The Big Picture

  • Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four reboot should not use Galactus as its main villain because he is too big of a threat to start with.
  • Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone, would be a perfect foe for the reboot and can rectify the mistakes of the previous installments.
  • The Negative Zone has been a fundamental part of Marvel lore and using Annihilus as the villain can open up new storytelling opportunities and add a horror element to the film.


Recently, rumors have begun to fly with an alarming ferocity about where Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four reboot is heading. First, there was the news that Pedro Pascal was in talks to play the Four’s leader Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. Now there is a rumor floating that either Javier Bardem or Antonio Banderas will be stepping into the armor of Galactus. Galactus is one of the most formidable foes that the Four have ever faced, as he seeks out and consumes entire planets — hence his title as the “Devourer of Worlds.” He even menaced the previous film version of The Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surferbut in the form of a giant cloud (which longtime Marvel Comics fans were less than pleased with).

Despite the temptation to “rectify” any perceived mistakes that were previously made, The Fantastic Four reboot shouldn’t use Galactus as its main villain. For one thing, it feels like way too big of a threat to start a first movie off with. Galactus belongs in the same vein as Thanos or the DC Universe’s Darkseid as a character one builds up to. More rumors seem to indicate that the Four’s perennial arch-foe Doctor Doom will replace Kang the Conqueror, particularly since Avengers: Secret Wars is on the horizon and Jonathan Majors‘ growing legal woes. However, there is one foe that would be perfect for the reboot: Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone


Annihilus Hails From the Negative Zone

Annihilus made his first appearance in Fantastic Four Annual #6, when Reed Richards discovered the alternate dimension known as the Negative Zone. In order to treat his wife Sue’s pregnancy — which is being affected by the cosmic rays that gave the Four their superpowers — Reed and the rest of the Four need Annihilus’ Cosmic Control Rod, but he holds them hostage. They escaped, but it wasn’t the last they’d see of Annihilus. Over the years, he’d breach through portals that connected Earth to the Negative Zone and end up battling the Four once again. Annihilus would even face off against other heroes in the Marvel Universe, including Thor and the Norse pantheon when he tried to conquer Asgard. Annihilus’ biggest attack on the Marvel Universe took place during the Annihilation crossover.

In Annihilation, Annihilus led an incursion of Negative Zone warships into the opposing galaxy. He started to lay waste to everything in his path, completely annihilating the planet Xandar, home of the Nova Corps, and joining forces with other cosmic menaces, including Thanos, to construct a bomb that will wipe out all life in the universe. Eventually, Annihilus’ conquest is halted when Richard Rider — the last living Nova — kills him and Galactus utterly wipes out his “Annihilation Wave.” Annihilus was eventually reborn, and continued to menace the Marvel Universe. Annihilation proved to be a true game changer for Marvel, especially where its cosmic properties were concerned. The biggest of these changes was the birth of the modern incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy, which James Gunn used as an influence when crafting the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Annihilus also became fierce rivals with Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, during Jonathan Hickman‘s run on Fantastic Four. Johnny seemingly sacrificed his life to stop another Negative Zone incursion, but Annihilus resurrected him and forced him to fight in endless gladiator battles. Eventually, Johnny managed to wrest away Annihilus’ Cosmic Control Rod — the weapon from which he drew his strength — and gained power over the reborn Annihilation Wave. Annihilus eventually found a new source of power in the Nega-Bands, but that was short-lived as the Avengers destroyed the Negative Zone portal he was powering with the Bands.

Using Annihilus in the ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot Can Rectify the Previous Installments Biggest Mistakes

In the years since Annihilus’ introduction, the Negative Zone has been a fundamental part of Marvel lore. Ultimate Fantastic Four, which took place in an alternate Marvel Universe, took things one step further by having the Negative Zone be the source of the Four‘s powers. A teenage Reed Richards discovered the Zone when he created a makeshift teleporter; he was invited to the Baxter Building, which was reimagined as a think tank for the government. After a teleportation event went wrong, the Four — and a future Doctor Doom — were bathed in the Negative Zone’s energies. In order to further study the effect of the Zone on their bodies, the Four traveled deep into its borders and met the Ultimate version of Annihilus, who called himself “Nihil.” Nihil attempted to kill the Four and lead an incursion into their world, but the Four eventually managed to stop him in his tracks — though they did end up destroying half of Las Vegas in the process.

2015’s Fantastic Four by Josh Trank would adapt elements of Ultimate Fantastic Four, including the origin and the Negative Zone playing a large role in the process. Whole essays have been written about why this film failed to connect with critics and audiences, so we won’t attempt to relitigate it here. Instead, we’ll keep our focus on the Negative Zone; namely, the film never bothers to fully explore it. Apart from an all-too-brief final fight with Doctor Doom in the climax, the Zone remains a mystery. Even worse, the Four’s origin was drastically changed — Sue Storm never goes with the group. This majorly robs Sue, who is the first major Marvel Comics heroine, of her agency. In all versions of the origin, she chooses to go with Reed on his journey.

If the Fantastic Four reboot does choose to go with Annihilus as its foe, it can still keep the cosmic scale of the Four’s adventures and open up a new corner of the Marvel Universe to explore. So far, the “Multiverse Saga” has seen different universes spring into being; an entire dimension could provide great storytelling fodder. Given his insectile appearance, Annihilus could also provide a horror element to contrast with the sci-fi vibe of the Four. The ball’s in Matt Shakman‘s court.

Fantastic Four is scheduled to be released on May 2, 2025.

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