It appears at long last the search to find a director for Fantastic Four has finally ended. Originally set to be directed by the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy director Jon Watts, the filmmaker departed the project in April 2022. In July 2022 at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios officially dated Fantastic Four for release on November 8, 2024, and it would kick off Phase 6 of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga. The search was a long one, and it appears the studio has finally found a director: Matt Shakman.
While the news is not confirmed (Marvel Studios might be waiting until D23 to officially make the announcement), it appears that Shakman will officially direct Fantastic Four. Marvel reportedly met with Love and Monsters director Michael Matthews and Dog co-director Reid Carolin, but it was Shakman who reportedly secured the gig. Shakman has a long list of television credits to his name across some of the most acclaimed TV series like Game of Thrones and Succession. However, to some, the news might be a tad disappointing as they likely wanted Marvel’s first family and an important foundation of the Marvel Universe to get a big-time director, and may see a television filmmaker as a relatively low-key or safe choice.
To the contrary, Shakman’s body of work shows a talented filmmaker who has been able to dabble in a variety of genres. Marvel Studios also has a really strong track record with directors, and while at times some picks might appear unconventional their past work illuminates what exactly Marvel Studios is looking for in terms of bringing a property to life.
Nothing in James Gunn’s filmography screamed cosmic space adventure before Guardians of the Galaxy, but Marvel Studios recognized his past work about fractured individuals finding purpose and his clever wit made him the perfect person to bring the team to life. Destin Daniel Cretton’s filmography about troubled families and deeply intimate human dramas like Short Term 12, The Glass House, and Just Mercy made him the right pick to bring Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, even though he had never directed an action film. There are four key projects in Shakman’s career that illustrate why he is also the right pick for Marvel, and a great director for Fantastic Four.
The first thing to address is that Shakman has already worked with Marvel Studios on WandaVision, the kick-off to Phase 4, and the first MCU Disney+ series. WandaVision broke out in a major way and was nominated for multiple Primetime Emmys including Outstanding Limited Anthology Series and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for Shakman, as he helmed all nine episodes of the acclaimed series.
WandaVision itself was a love letter to various classic sitcoms, and the Fantastic Four property is an inversion of the classic sitcom family archetype seen in the 1950s and 1960s so Shakman has experience playing with those aesthetics and archetypes. WandaVision also proved he could handle the big Marvel spectacle while maintaining the grounded human drama and Fantastic Four are first and foremost a superhero family so that is an important balance. While it might not seem like it on paper, WandaVision served as a perfect calling card for Fantastic Four.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the most iconic comedy series in television history, and is still running after 15 seasons. The series has gained a large fanbase and is well regarded among critics and audiences. The series’ primary comedy comes from the gang’s arguments and squabbles with one another, which is also a similar comedic basis for the Fantastic Four. It has even become a meme online to cast Fantastic Four with It’s Always Sunny characters, so there is a lot of overlap in terms of the two properties.
Shakman has directed a whopping 43 episodes of the series over its run, including the iconic musical episode ‘The Nightman Cometh.’ Having directed that many episodes of a series focused on a group of friends/family arguing and squabbling with one another, there is no wonder he got the job to direct Fantastic Four.