‘Fantastic Four’: Matt Shakman Says Marvel’s Recent Problems Haven’t Affected His Film & Talks “Responsibility” Of Getting The “First Family” Right

There’s a lot of upheaval at Marvel Studios of late. Amid an ever-rearranging theatrical release schedule and months of VFX backlash against the studio, there’s also Marvel’s emergent TV Reckoning. “Daredevil: Born Again” will essentially start from scratch, with “Wonder Man” also rumored to be scrapped, too. That’s a lot of shifts creatively, and fast. So where does that leave other future Marvel projects, like the upcoming “Fantastic Four” film in Phase 6?

READ MORE: Mila Kunis Debunks Marvel Casting Rumors: “I’m Not In ‘Fantastic Four'”

In an upcoming episode of “The Discourse Podcast,” part of The Playlist’s Podcast Network, host Mike DeAngelo sat down with Matt Shakman, who directs that MCU film. While most of the talk was all about “Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters,” Apple TV+‘s upcoming series that Shakman executive produces and directs the first two episodes of, the director also talked a bit about his future with Marvel and what fans should expect from his “Fantastic Four” film. And while Marvel may be veering away from the creative vision that made “WandaVision,” which Shakman directed, such a big hit, he’s nonethless aware of the responsibility he has to get Marvel’s “first family” right.

But did Shakman ever meet with Marvel about anything other than “Fantastic Four” after the success of “WandaVision”? “No, it’s just about “Fantastic Four,”” confirmed Shakman. “Yeah, I love that comic. I certainly let them know that I love that comic. I think John Watts was on it for a while, and he would have done a fantastic job, but he moved on, and I was thrilled that I was able to jump into the director’s chair on it and take his place.”

As for any casting news for “Fantastic Four,” Shakman couldn’t give anything away, but stressed the importance of chemistry between his ensemble. He also promised there would “be an announcement at some point” whenever the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike resolves. “I’m thrilled that people are as passionate about these characters as I am,” Shakman said about Marvel’s fanbase. “The fact that there is so much debate, I love it. I have been thinking about who should play these characters before I had the job to direct the movie, and I understand why everybody would be thinking in the same way. Chemistry is super important…It’s Marvel’s first family. I have to get it right. I have to get that chemistry right.” As for a casting announcement: “it’s not going to be immediately when the SAG strike has resolved, but we’ll be able to share some news at some point. And I hope people are as excited about this cast as I am.”

Shakman also said Marvel’s recent troubles haven’t affect development on “Fantastic Four” at all. “It hasn’t,” he confirmed. “I mean, we’ve been on our process consistently. I’ve been on the project for a little over a year and working away hard at it the way we’d work on any film at Marvel, and certainly, the way we worked on “WandaVision,” which is starting with, you know, what is the story we want to tell? What is the theme of the story? Why are we telling this story? And just developing then the best possible version of that story, and how do we want to bring these characters to life? So, you know, in terms of outside influence or conversations, it hasn’t really been a factor. It’s always high stakes. You always have to get it right.”

So will “Fantastic Four” pay homage to any classic storylines from the Marvel comics, or does Shakman have an original story in mind? Shakman didn’t provide specific details, but said that “the idea that I’ve loved so much about Marvel is that we’re not just going to take a run that exists and translate it to film. We’re going to do what every great run has done, which is stand on the shoulders of what came before, but then think about how we as artists living in this moment, processing what we’re all processing, what story do we want to tell right now that feels true to us as people? And that is informed, though, by everything that’s come before.” Shakman also mentioned that he keeps comic book writer Matt Fraction, who also worked on “Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters” and had a run on the Fantastic Four comic, in the loop creatively. “Yeah, I can absolutely talk to Matt about it,” he continued. “Yeah, he’s great. He’s brilliant. And, you know, he’s a big part of the Marvel family over there in terms of Hawkeye, for sure, as well as, you know, he’s worked on several of the films too. I think he worked on Thor. And yeah, he’s a brilliant guy.”

Did Shakman provide any specific news or names about “Fantastic Four”? Yes, a new writer on the film: “WandaVision” scribe Cam Scquires worked on a draft of the film with “Avatar: Way Of Water” co-writer Josh Friedman. Shakman also worked with Friedman on the script for the “Star Trek 4” movie that never materialized. “I came on [to “Star Trek 4”] and worked with Josh Friedman, who I’m working with on “Fantastic Four” now, and Cam Squires, who I’d worked with on “WandaVision,” and we worked on a draft together, which was tremendous fun.” But as for casting news, sit tight, Marvel fans. That’s still not coming until after SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP finally agree to terms.