Both The Avengers and the Fantastic Four would agree that there's safety (and power) in numbers. It's not always easy to be a part of a team, as anyone who's ever had to work on a group project will tell you. But in the cases of these superheroes, they're stronger together than they are apart. And for movie-going audiences, they're more interesting, too. The Avengers have two team films and several solo ventures under their belt and the Fantastic Four are just now getting a reboot, hoping to put their mediocre mid-'00s past behind them. But how exactly are the Fantastic Four connected to The Avengers? They do share the Marvel universe, after all.
Although they've never teamed up on-screen (yet), the Avengers and the Fantastic Four have met several times in the pages of Marvel comics. They even blend, on occasion. At one point, Sue Storm and Reed Richards join Captain America to form an interim Avengers team, retiring from them when the actual Avengers came back together. (Reed and Cap endured a bit of a power struggle, so this was probably for the best.) And later, the two teams both formed part of a super defense that fights the "powerful psychic entity" Onslaught. Onslaught, by the way, is an aggressive force created by the merging of Dr. Charles Xavier and the "dark ego" of Magneto. Yes, those are X-Men. Yes, comics are extremely complicated.
Rumors flew in 2014 that the Fantastic Four would make an appearance in the second Avengers film, possibly as some kind of co-promotion. Fortunately, Age of Ultron was already bursting with characters, so nothing was missing, even without Mister Fantastic, The Thing, The Invisible Woman, and Johnny Storm. These rumors didn't offer much in the way of proof, largely because they didn't explain the business side of what's keeping the Avengers and the Fantastic Four apart. Both teams are Marvel creations, yes, but the rights to their screen versions are owned by two different studios. The Avengers are Marvel Studios' babies and their films are distributed by Walt Disney Studios. The Fantastic Four are no longer owned by Marvel; their fates are in the hands of 20th Century Fox. This leaves some obstacles in the way of their sharing a screen. It's more likely that the Fantastic Four and the X-Men will take down some bad guys together, since they are studio mates. Though producers recently nipped that rumor in the bud, too.
There are points of crossover among studios, though not in the traditional way. The character of Quicksilver appeared in both an X-Men and an Avengers film recently, though played by two different actors (Evan Peters and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, respectively) and given two very different backstories. In this case, both studios claim ownership of that character and so used him as they liked. Screenrant has a handy graph of who owns who, for you visual learners. Everything makes so much more sense now.
So, is all hope of the teams ever coming together lost? Not according to the granddaddy of Marvel. Answering fan questions on Larry King Now, Stan Lee acknowledged the studio issues but also said, "They'll all come together sooner or later." I like that kind of optimism, Mr. Lee. Bring it on.
Image: 20th Century Fox; Giphy (3)