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Fantastic Four: Four clues (and one more, for luck) hidden inside Marvel Studios' new key art for the movie

Retro stylings, costume choices, robot helpers, and more!

Fantastic Four details
Image credit: Marvel Studios/Popverse

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As a statement of intent, Wes Burt’s promo art for Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four is a fascinating thing, seemingly filled with clues about what to expect from the movie, which remains more than a year out from release. Sure, there’s the fact that it confirms the casting rumors, but more than that, there are some curious hints that may (or may not!) pan out to tell a lot about what to expect from the MCU debut of Marvel’s First Family.

Fantastic Four
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Brand new, you’re retro

There are a lot of retro touches to the key art, from the finish and pastel color scheme of the illustration itself — both amazingly mid-20th century, albeit arguably more 1950s than the 1960s era in which the FF debuted in comics — to the revised version of the Marvel Studios logo above the movie’s title. Is this simply a cute nod to the nostalgic aspect of the characters that fandom traditionally hews towards, as well as the rough era of their conception, or something more?

After all, many have speculated that the traditional FF origin — that sees them getting their powers thanks to a rocket mission in an attempt to beat the Communists in the Space Race — feels outdated and impossible in the current MCU, where space travel is an everyday occurrence and the Cold War is over for everyone bar the Winter Soldier.

But what if the Fantastic Four movie turns out to be a version of Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel, where a flashback origin leads to the characters reappearing in the current day, complete with retro attitudes and a new position filling out the MCU’s backstory?

Those costumes, though

While all four characters are wearing FF colors — all five, if you include HERBIE the robot, but we’ll get to him later — only Reed and Sue are wearing anything close to a traditional Fantastic Four costume.

If these are the costumes the characters will be wearing in the movie, I’m a fan: they seem to be made up of sweater/pants combos, with nods to the reverse-color scheme introduced to the comic during the John Byrne era of the 1980s, with a focus on practicality rather than comic book accuracy. (In many ways, harkening back to Captain America’s costume in The First Avenger, again.)

Given the relationship of the two characters in the comic books, I’m also a fan of the way the Burt has the costuming of Ben and Johnny mirroring each other, as well; it’s a nice nod to the fact that the two are more similar than either would feel comfortable saying out loud.

Ben Grimm, astronaut

While the Thing is looking very Thing-ly in the foreground of the image — and very similar to his comic book look, in such a way that, if it’s a hint as to what he’ll look like onscreen, the MCU version might be the most comics-accurate version of the character to hit the big screen, just as was true for Spider-Man — there’s a portrait of his human self hanging above his head in the background, looking more than anything like he’s a NASA astronaut, instead of simply a guy who stole a rocket with his best friend and hoped for the best. Is this a clue about Ben’s background in the movie?

HERBIE?!?

For those unfamiliar with the robot on the far left of the image, a brief history lesson: when DePatie–Freleng Enterprises and Marvel got together to make an animated series based on the FF in the late 1970s, the Human Torch was unavailable because the rights to the character had already been licensed out to another television project… meaning that the team needed a new fourth member. Enter HERBIE — it stands for Humanoid Experimental Robot. B-type, Integrated Electronics, officially — who was created by the original FF team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; the character would later be added into comic book continuity in 1979’s Fantastic Four #209, although never as a fully-fledged member of the team.

His inclusion in the key art suggests that the movie isn’t just interested in re-creating the comic book glory days of the team, but looking at a more holistic approach towards the Fantastic Four as a property overall — or, perhaps, just a sign that Marvel Studios is filled with a lot of guys who grew up watching reruns of that 1978 animated series.

Oh, and one last thing…

Look at the logo of the movie. Is the movie actually called “The Fantastic Four,” with the definitive article included? If so, that’s a surprise; the comic dropped the “the” all the way back with July 1963’s sixteenth issue, and hasn’t looked back ever since.

Fantastic Four — or, perhaps, The Fantastic Four — will be released July 25, 2025.


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Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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