A Short History of How That Star Nabbed a Beloved Superhero Cameo in ‘Doctor Strange 2’

And what's next for the superhero property he might be starring in.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”]

The third “Fantastic Four” reboot, and first as a Marvel-owned property, has already lost one director and seemingly gained a new star.

The gasps were audible in theaters around the world as (spoilers) John Krasinski was revealed as Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, “the smartest man in the world” and leader of the Illuminati. We already knew that a new “Fantastic Four” film was in the works thanks to a 2021 promotional video for upcoming Marvel titles that included the “Fantastic Four” logo after Disney acquired the 20th Century Fox property. Yet after years of Krasinski hinting at the role, the “Office” alum officially donned the stretchy blue onesie to become the MCU superhero.

So, how did we get here? Let’s jump back into this multiverse for a moment and rewind the clock to chart Krasinski’s epic Marvel debut.

John Krasinski Was Almost Captain America

Captain America
“Captain America: Winter Soldier”Jay Maidment/Marvel

We never thought we’d ever ever say this, but step aside Chris Evans: John Krasinski almost had your MCU job. Krasinski famously auditioned to play Captain America for the 2011 film “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Krasinski revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2020 that he set out to play Captain Steve Rogers in the WWII-set Marvel flick while still on “The Office.”

“The truth is, they hadn’t offered it to [Chris] yet, so they were like, ‘Let’s see who else is out there before we offer it to Chris Evans.’ And um, I went in and I tested for Captain America,” Krasinski explained. “I acted my heart out that that day and it didn’t work out.”

Fans crafted a viral deepfake placing Krasinski in the Captain America costume, while simultaneously the “Quiet Place” director was rumored to be playing Mr. Fantastic.

But Krasinski Wanted Marvel to “Continue to Consider” Him For Mr. Fantastic

“Jack Ryan”Jan thijs

While Krasinski maintained that Marvel had not reached out to him as of 2020 about leading a new “Fantastic” reboot, he told Men’s Health that he was still very interested in joining the MCU.

“I would love to be in the Marvel universe. I love those movies because they’re fun, but I also think they’re really well done,” Krasinski gushed. “And certainly a lot of my friends are in those movies. I have no idea what [Marvel is] thinking. But if they are considering me for Mr. Fantastic, continue to consider me because I would love it.”

Emily Blunt Slammed “Fan Casting” Rumors That She’s Sue Storm

Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow
“Edge of Tomorrow”Everett

Krasinski’s real-life wife Emily Blunt — who similarly turned down the Avengers role of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a., Black Widow, due to scheduling conflicts — shut down rumors in 2020 that either her or Krasinski would appear in a Marvel film.

“That is fan-casting. No one has received a phone call,” Blunt said on The Howard Stern Show. “That’s just people saying, ‘Wouldn’t that be great?'”

Blunt previously was forced to exit the Black Widow role in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” due to a scheduling conflict with “Gulliver’s Travels.” However, a decade later and Blunt didn’t seem to be as keen on the franchise.

“It’s not that it’s beneath me. I love ‘Iron Man’ and when I got offered Black Widow, I was obsessed with ‘Iron Man.’ I wanted to work with Robert Downey Jr.— it would’ve been amazing,” Blunt continued on The Howard Stern Show at the time. “But I don’t know if superhero movies are for me. They’re not up my alley. I don’t like them. I really don’t.”

She added of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “It’s been exhausted. We are inundated — it’s not only all the movies, it’s the endless TV shows as well. It’s not to say that I’d never want to play one, it would just have to be something so cool and like a really cool character, and then I’d be interested.”

However, MCU insiders have since speculated that Krasinski and Blunt would star as husband and wife superhero duo Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm, aka The Invisible Woman, in the next “Fantastic Four” reboot. Mr. Fantastic did say in “Doctor Strange 2” that he has a wife and kids…

Is There a Multiverse Where Krasinski Directs the New “Fantastic Four”?

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt on the set of "A Quiet Place"
Director John Krasinski and Emily Blunt on the set of “A Quiet Place”Everett

Despite the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) turning Krasinski’s Mr. Fantastic into string cheese in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” it’s clear that Krasinski will most likely lead the upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” director Jon Watts pulled out of the film on April 29, just a week before Krasinski appeared in the role for “Doctor Strange 2.” Watts reportedly stepped away to focus on other non-MCU projects, including an upcoming Apple Original film starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

“Collaborating with Jon on the Spider-Man films has been a true pleasure,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said following the announcement. “We were looking forward to continuing our work with him to bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU but understand and are supportive of his reasons for stepping away. We are optimistic that we will have the opportunity to work together again at some point down the road.”

Enter…Krasinski as the director?

The “Imaginary Friends” writer-director previously told ComicBook.com that he’d “jump in” as a director to any Marvel film if MCU boss Feige asked him. “In Kevin [Feige] I trust,” Krasinski said. “That dude is not only the most talented guy, but the nicest guy. Yeah, whatever he wants, we’d discuss it.”

As of print, no “Fantastic Four” director has been announced yet following Watts leaving the film.

What’s Next for “Fantastic Four”?

Emily Blunt and John Krasinski
Emily Blunt and John KrasinskiAP

Sure, maybe the Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic for “Doctor Strange 2” was just a way to cater to fans. He was killed off in one universe but there are many universes in MCU’s new multiverse-driven storytelling. Plus, familiar faces Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), and Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Eijofor) were all in that universe too as part of the Illuminati, seeming to prove that no matter which galaxy you’re in, the alternate paths all center around the same actors.

And so much for the rumors that Chris Evans would truly bend MCU fans’ minds as doing double time reprising his Human Torch “Fantastic Four” role after hanging up his shield as Captain America. Ah, how we miss stunt crossover casting like Evan Peters in “WandaVision” (despite it being a narrative fakeout).

“Fantastic Four” reportedly began casting in January with production slated to start in 2023. We have a feeling Blunt and Krasinski may be first on the call sheets….

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now in theaters.

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