Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Mister Fantastic

Go To

"I've done it! I'm drifting into a world of limitless dimensions!! It's the crossroads of infinity — the junction to everywhere!"
Reed Richards, Fantastic Four #51, "This Man, This Monster", written by Stan Lee

Reed Richards, better known as Mister Fantastic, is a Marvel Comics character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, first appearing in The Fantastic Four #1 (dated Nov. 1961).

Dubbed one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe, Reed was a mild-mannered scientist who —alongside his girlfriend Sue Storm, best friend Benjamin Grimm, and Sue's younger brother Johnny— gained fantastic powers and abilities together while on a mission in outer space. In a classic example of superhero irony, the accident turned obstinate, rigid Reed into a Rubber Man with super-flexibility.

In the years since becoming Mister Fantastic, Reed has married Sue, became a father, joined The Illuminati, and reconstructed the multiverse with his family. In many ways, he's the father of the Marvel Universe, and is perhaps the most well-known superhero dad in all of fiction.


While far from a joke character in the truest sense, Reed has a reputation of being somewhat ineffectual, and is the trope namer of Reed Richards Is Useless. By contrast, he's also the namer of Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome, which is references the popular opinion that alternate universe versions of himself (such as the villainous Maker of Ultimate Marvel) are superior to the original.

As one of the first true Marvel characters, Reed has appeared quite often in other media. He most notably appeared in every Fantastic Four film, portrayed by Alex Hyde-White, Ioan Gruffudd, and Miles Teller in each, respectively.


Mister Fantastic has appeared in:

     Notable Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four (various runs):
    • vol. 1 (1961 — 1996, 2002 — 2012, 2015)
    • vol. 2 (1996 — 1997)
    • vol. 3 (1998 — 2003)
    • vol. 4 (2013 — 2014)
    • vol. 5 (2014 — 2015)
    • vol. 6 (2018 — present)
  • FF vol. 1 (2011 — 2012)
  • New Avengers vol. 3 (2013 — 2015)
  • Secret Wars vol. 2 (2015 — 2016)



     Video Games 

Mister Fantastic contains examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Sometimes extending as far as Ditzy Genius. Whenever there's a Broke Episode, Reed is usually the culprit.
  • Action Hero: He is actively involved in the battles of his heroic team.
  • Aesop Amnesia: He learns during the arc with the Council of Reeds and the Four Cities not to do everything alone and that he should rely on and involve people and heroes he knows who can help. He promptly ignores this while remaining a member of the Illuminati and completely forgets it during the Incursion crisis. In fact it can be said for such an intelligent man Reed consistently finds a reason to ignore the lessons he's learned to screw things up by himself for not trusting his family.
  • Alliterative Name: Reed Richards.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: In universes when Reed is not bound by Status Quo Is God, he's capable of even more amazing scientific accomplishments than in the main 616 verse. Gets deconstructed in Hickman's run, where every other Reed Richards is awesome because they've either morally corrupt arseholes, or they abandoned their families in the name of the Greater Good.
  • Always Someone Better: Mixed with Always Second Best when it comes to Tony Stark. As Reed explains to Steve Rogers, when it comes to problem-solving a single problem, Reed is just a little bit smarter than Tony, but when it comes to multi-tasking, Tony has the advantage.
  • Anti-Villain: Becomes this in the 'Perfect world' storyline. While he still has good intentions and didn't push the button himself; it doesn't change the fact (as he himself points out) that he helped murder an entire team of superheroes and destroy an inhabited planet.
  • The Atoner: At the start of Mark Waid's run, Reed revealed to his infant daughter Valeria that he still felt guilty for the circumstances that led to the creation of the Fantastic Four, and that he made them celebrities in part to make up for robbing them of their normal lives.
  • Badass Beard: Reed has begun to be consistently drawn with a full beard starting in the late 2000s, under the tenures of Slott and Hickman.
  • Badass Bookworm: Something that tends to get lost in many adaptations. People often forget that he's a war vet, and in his younger days he did some very Indiana Jones-esque missions for the US government and, oh yeah, stole a rocket and tried to fly to the moon.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Double Subversion. His college sweetheart, Alyssa Moy turned him down because she believed that she should try and have children with less intelligent men to smarten up future generations. When this didn't work out, she became interested in Reed again, but by this time, he was Happily Married.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Recently, some artists have given Reed a resemblance to John Krasinski.
  • Constantly Curious: Partial justification for his ditzy, shortsighted or otherwise callous actions. Notably, one evil scientist that stole his intellect began suffering Sanity Slippage, as he couldn't stop questioning how things worked and how to improve them. He found being disintegrated a relief from the stress.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After the combined forces of the Fantastic Four, The Avengers and Doctor Strange prevent a starving Galactus from destroying the Earth, Reed Richards shows the Devourer of Worlds mercy. In exchange, Galactus calls Richards "friend" before vowing that Earth need no longer fear his hunger.
  • Depending on the Writer: Reed's disposition varies from series to series. Sometimes he's nice but a bit unnecessarily gruff, sometimes he's a complete Jerkass, sometimes he's just absent minded.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Reed used to smoke a pipe from time to time, before the dangers of smoking became well-known.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Happens a lot with major antagonists for Reed, such as with Doctor Doom and Galactus.
    • Notable when Reed's daughter Valeria brokered a deal with Doom. Doom will work with the Future Foundation to bring down a group of amoral alternate Reed Richards. In exchange, they would heal his super-intelligence crippling brain damage. Doom upon being restored gathers a summit of the FF's most intelligent enemies to work on strategies to kill the Reeds. At the Foundation's headquarters.
  • Foil: To his brother-in-law Johnny. Reed is law-abiding hero with a sense of duty who plans things ahead for his teammates, while Johnny is a reckless Leeroy Jenkins hero who has little care about laws and want to do what is right. Both Reed and Johnny also took different sides during the Civil War events.
  • Happily Married: To Susan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It really depends on the era the book was written and who is writing it. In the 60's he came off as bit offish and the early 70's had him as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Afterwards, he's been consistently portrayed as the Nice Guy.
  • Master of Disguise: Mr. Fantastic has infrequently used his stretching powers to assume a different face.
  • Military Superhero: An oft-overlooked in adaptations fact about Reed and Ben is that they served in the army. In the early comics, it was World War II until Comic-Book Time made that impossible and it spent decades dropped. In 2019, it was reinstated as part of the Siancong War.
  • My Greatest Failure: Being responsible for changing Ben into the Thing, as well as his failure in being able to reverse it, gives Reed a lot of grief. To a lesser extent, he feels like he wrecked Sue and Johnny as well, having ruined all three of their chances to live normal lives; it being his idea to steal the starship that led to the events granting them their powers. His formation of the Fantastic Four and turning the team into celebrities is his attempt to make up for it.
  • Nay-Theist: Reed is stated to be a humanist, although he does believe in the existence of God. Helps that Reed and the others have all actually met God face to face (in the form of Jack Kirby, incidentally) and he even brought Ben Back from the Dead. What kind of pathetic excuse for a scientist would he have to be to meet God in person and reject the scientific evidence that he exists? It doesn't mean the experience would have to change his philosophy though, which is why Reed still identifies as humanist.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Mister Fantastic's skin is virtually impervious to laceration or punctures unless he willfully relaxes his reflexive control over small areas of his body. In that case, scalpels and ordinary needles can penetrate his skin.
    • Due to the great malleability and elasticity of his molecular structure, Mister Fantastic is able to absorb the impact of any type of man-made ballistic projectile by deforming his body along the path of the projectile's trajectory at the point of initial impact. He can also contain explosions by enveloping them and allowing their force to expand him.
  • Not So Different: With Victor. Although they're on opposite ends of the good vs. evil thing, both Reed and Doom are insanely intelligent, somewhat condescending, and often only care about completing whatever task at hand will best benefit whatever, tossing aside everything else. They both also fall into the same spectrum in the Order Versus Chaos area (being the "lawful" type character).
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Reed is an expert in biochemistry, human and alien biology, chemistry, communications, computers, electronics, energy generation, electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering, extra-dimensional travel, holography, mutations, all levels of physics, robotics, space travel, spectral analysis, synthetic polymers, time travel, transportation, and more. He's the namesake for an in-universe science award for excellence in multiple disciplines.
    • This was also lampshaded in the mini-series Fantastic Four: True Story, where Reed said at one point; "This will require me to create an entirely new field of scientific study. Give me a couple of days."
    • Middle-lampshaded when Reed told Hank Pym he's the best biochemist in the world, so he would need weeks to be as good as him. Pym comments it's no wonder that people hate Reed.
    • Has come up in other stories; Reed once went to great lengths to recruit the aid of Doctor Octopus to help during the last stages of Sue's second pregnancy (the first time around) because he recognised that Otto Octavius had superior knowledge of radiation compared to him, and in another storyline that saw the FF work with Spider-Man to deal with an alien invasion that had mutated most of the human race, Reed noted that Spider-Man was better suited to view the problem from the perspective of a biologist than Reed was.
  • Papa Wolf: Don't mess with his kids.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Reed can stretch any part of his body — and yes, it has come up in subtext that this is why he and Sue are so Happily Married.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The Trope Namer. A certified super-genius and one of the smartest people in the whole universe, he regularly invents mind-bending devices that tell physics where to shove it, but almost never devotes his considerable talents to anything other than superheroics. While Marvel has attempted to justify his lack of world-changiness in various ways, including that his inventions are too expensive and that nobody else can understand them, the real reason is that allowing him to make a real difference would make the world far too different to reality. The justification being used in Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four and F.F. and by Bendis in the Ultimate Marvel universe, is that it's his family which prevents Reed from putting all his efforts into changing the world. He has to choose between being a loving father and husband and devoting himself to advancing humanity (although why Reed can't take a middle ground has yet to be explained). It's implied that the world is lucky when Reed takes the first option since, if he doesn't or if things don't work out between him and Sue, he becomes a Knight Templar (Hickman's books) or full on villain (the Ultimate 'verse).
    • Other justifications given (making this both the Trope Namer and the Unbuilt Trope) is that while a lot of Reed's stuff does get patented, he avoids a lot of dangerous superhero stuff like the death rays and portals to hell that can't be trusted to the general public. Also, many companies pay him explicitly not to patent his stuff because they know they can't keep up with his inventions, which would put millions of people out of work.
    • Subverted in that he does invent many things that have everyday uses. Most of them are bought by companies with competing products in order to keep them from hitting the streets and putting them out of business.
  • Rubber Man: He possesses the ability to convert the mass of his entire body into a highly malleable state at will. How his body's respiration and circulatory systems function at these distorted extremes is as yet unknown. He can alter his form in a matter of seconds, often much less (depending on the complexity of the shape), and revert to his normal humanoid shape within a similar time. The greater the distance he stretches or the more extended the size of the object he becomes, the weaker his overall strength becomes.
  • Science Hero: He uses science in the name of heroism and has always considered his mind to be his true super-power.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: With frequent requests from Ben to dial it down a notch so everyone else can understand.
  • Skunk Stripe: His hair includes grey temples.
  • Small Steps Hero: What originally made Reed different from Doom. While Doom believes Utopia Justifies the Means, Reed will forego scientific progress if it harms too many people. Later stories, however, started to revoke this.
  • Smart People Build Robots: Every other week, it seems like.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Against Doctor Doom. With no board. Finishing a game started decades before. While setting things in motion to thwart Doom. Who's basically doing the same thing.
  • The Smart Guy: Even by Marvel standards where everyone seems to have a minimum IQ of 240, Reed is recognised as the go to guy for intelligence. He is one of the most intelligent beings on the planet.
  • Super Intelligence: Often held as the standard for Super Intelligence in the Marvel Universe. It's generally accepted that Reed is the World's Smartest Man. It is generally accepted that his powers really do give him this, as while he is naturally a scientific genius with an Improbably High I.Q. without them, the fact that his brain is literally malleable gives him an intelligence boost even to that. On the rare occasions he loses his powers he sometimes gets slightly dumber - still super-smart, but not solving problems quite as easily as he could before.
  • Teen Genius: Entered university at age 14, had doctorates by the age of 20.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Often finds himself in this situation, particularly in regards to Doctor Doom's Diplomatic Impunity. Unfortunately, he often ends up siding in the "lawful" in many of these situations as evident with his hesitation trying to break international law to capture Doctor Doom and the events during the Civil War events where he sided with the Pro-Registration superheroes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Reed will usually always pick out the easiest solution, not giving any foresight to matters such as tact, emotions, feelings, practicality, or possible future consequences (such as permanently shrinking an alien race to evacuate them off a doomed planet, or turning Skrulls into cows without considering the ramifications of ingesting alien flesh or the morality of it). When this happens, Sue will usually call him out on it.
    • One of the interesting common threads in alternate-universe Marvel stories is that in the event something terrible happens to Sue, Franklin, and/or Valeria, Reed will immediately go straight off the deep end. He's relying so heavily upon his family to keep him in check that if the unthinkable happens, he rapidly goes through all the stages of grief and right into insanity. This can be seen most clearly in the What If? where Sue died while giving birth to Franklin; Reed ignores the baby in favor of going on a suicide run against Annihilus. In more modern stories, Reed goes instantly nuts in the Marvel Zombies universe when Franklin and Valeria are killed.
    • Made a plot-point in Jonathan Hickman's run. Reed is faced with two choices. One: run off and join an interdimensional Council of Reeds from different universes committed to making creation itself a better place—ahem, by any means necessary, up to and including murdering Beyonders, killing Galactuses and carving up solar systems. The other choice is to stay at home in the 616 with his loving family and be the father to Franklin that Nathaniel never was to Reed. The Council of Reeds is by far the more logical choice—Valeria and even Nathaniel (a little) call him out on it—but Reed stalwartly refuses. Why? One reason: Franklin. The one thing our Reed created that all those other Reeds, with all their science and vast machinery and good intentions never could.
  • World's Smartest Man: Reed Richards is usually recognized as the smartest man in the Marvel Universe, being the most esteemed mind in the scientific community. In fact he himself considers his intellect to be his real superpower rather than his elasticity.


Video Example(s):


Magneto Defeated by Wooden Gun

After Reed reveals how he tricked Magneto into thinking he lost his powers, Magneto is so shocked he doesn't even remember he didn't actually lose his powers.

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ForgotAboutHisPowers

Media sources:

Main / ForgotAboutHisPowers