Marvel Studios appears to be one step closer to finalizing plans for the highly anticipated “Fantastic Four” reboot, with news that “WandaVision” helmer Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the project, Variety has confirmed. And with Shakman shifting focus to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the in-demand director has now exited his planned “Star Trek” feature at Paramount Pictures.
That studio released a statement late Friday announcing the change, writing: “Matt Shakman is an incredibly talented filmmaker, and we regret the timing didn’t align for him to direct our upcoming ‘Star Trek’ film. We are grateful for his many contributions, are excited about the creative vision of this next chapter and look forward to bringing it to audiences all around world.”
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The latest “Star Trek” installment is currently slated for release on Dec. 22, 2023.
In regards to “Fantastic Four,” at San Diego Comic Con in July, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed that the movie would kick off Phase 6 of the MCU when it debuts on Nov. 8, 2024. However, news of who will be cast as the superhero team — Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing — and their primary foe, Doctor Doom, remains a mystery. John Krasinski, who’s been a longtime fan favorite to play Mr. Fantastic, appeared as an alternate version of the character earlier this year in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” but it’s unknown if the actor will reprise the role in this new movie.
Marvel’s first priority, though, was to lock in a director.
Jon Watts, who helmed all three of Sony and Marvel’s recent string of “Spider-Man” films, had previously been announced as the director for “Fantastic Four,” but he exited the project in April.
Rumors that Shakman had been tapped to take the job hit the internet earlier this month, with the choice heralded by fans, given the director’s success piloting “WandaVision” as Marvel Studios’ first foray into television. For his work on the Disney+ series, Shakman landed an Emmy nomination for directing for a limited or anthology series or movie, as well as a nod in the outstanding limited or anthology series category as an executive producer. Shakman is also an Emmy nominee for his directing work on Hulu’s “The Great,” following his impressive entry into genre television with “Game of Thrones” after sharpening his directing skills on shows including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Good Wife,” “Psych” and “Ugly Betty.” The director is represented by UTA, Todd Rubenstein at Morris Yorn and Artists First.
The “Fantastic Four” comics debuted in 1961, with the characters created by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby becoming one of Marvel Comics’ most beloved and important properties. But the superhero quartet’s big-screen history has been a bit of a roller-coaster — from the never-released film produced by Roger Corman in the 1990s, to the middling popcorn fare of 2005’s “Fantastic Four” and its 2007 sequel “Rise of the Silver Surfer,” and, finally, the disappointing 2015 reboot, which officially scrapped plans for more movies. However, when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, which had owned the rights to the comics, the characters finally became available to Marvel Studios, with Feige teasing that a movie was in the works at the end of Marvel’s Hall H presentation at Comic-Con in 2019.
Deadline was first to report news of Shakman’s involvement in the project; Marvel could not be reached for comment. The Hollywood Reporter announced the director’s departure from “Star Trek.”
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