As Reed Richards and Sue Storm prepare for their wedding, a silver object enters Earth's atmosphere, creating immense craters around the world. General Hager directs Reed to track and identify its movements.
During the wedding, Reed's systems detect the phenomenon approaching New York City, which suffers a blackout from the object's electromagnetic pulses. Johnny Storm pursues the object, discovering it to be a silver humanoid on a flying surfboard. The "Silver Surfer" drags him into the upper atmosphere, suffocates and then drops him. Johnny barely survives, successfully flying only at the last moment. Later, Sue and Johnny find they have switched powers after touching, prompting Reed to deduce that exposure to the Surfer has affected Johnny's molecular structure, allowing these transfers of their powers. Tracing the Surfer's cosmic energy, Reed discovers that a series of planets the alien has visited are all destroyed.
Reed and Sue contemplate abandoning their lives as superheroes in order to have a normal life and raise a family, but are unaware Johnny is listening. With the Surfer creating craters around the globe, Reed determines that the next will appear in London. The team arrives too late to stop the crater, which drains the River Thames, but they manage to prevent the London Eye from collapsing after it is damaged by the quake (although Johnny nearly thwarts their attempt when he unwillingly switches powers with Reed). Meanwhile, the Surfer's movements around the globe bring him past Latveria, where the cosmic energy affects their ex-friend Victor Von Doom, freeing him from two years encased in metal. A scarred Doom traces the Surfer to the Russell Glacier and offers to join forces. When the Surfer rebuffs him, Doom attacks. The Surfer retaliates, blasting Doom through the ice, but the cosmic energy of the Surfer's blast heals Doom's body.
Doom leverages his experience into a deal with the American military, which forces the Fantastic Four to work with Doom. Deducing that the Surfer's board is the source of his power, Reed develops a tachyon pulse generator that will separate the Surfer from it, while Doom devises a machine whose function he keeps secret. In the Black Forest, the Surfer confronts Sue and reveals he is merely a servant to the destroyer of worlds, and regrets the destruction he causes. The military opens fire on the Surfer, which distracts him and allows the Fantastic Four to fire the pulse, separating the Surfer from his board. The military imprisons the Surfer in Siberia, where they torture him for information. Sue uses her powers to sneak into his cell, where he informs her that his master, known by the people of his world as Galactus, is a massive cloud-like cosmic entity that feeds on life-bearing planets to survive, and that his board is a homing beacon summoning Galactus to the planet. The Silver Surfer has to serve Galactus, who will otherwise destroy the Surfer's planet.
Using the device he created earlier, Doom betrays Hager and steals the board from the compound, killing most of the Army personnel there. The Fantastic Four rescue the Surfer and pursue Doom in the Fantasticar, confronting him in Shanghai. During the battle, Sue is severely wounded. With the Surfer powerless, Johnny absorbs the combined powers of the entire team in order to battle the now cosmic energy-empowered Doom. Johnny succeeds in breaking Doom's control over the Surfer's board, and Ben Grimm uses a nearby crane to knock Doom into the harbor. However, Galactus arrives and Sue appears to die in Reed's arms. The Surfer regains control of his board, restoring his power. He revives Sue and chooses to defend Earth, flying, with an extra boost from Johnny, into Galactus. The conflict results in a massive blast of energy that engulfs Galactus, and apparently kills the Surfer as well. Johnny recovers his stable molecular state after touching the Surfer's board.
Reed and Sue marry in Japan, in an abbreviated ceremony. Receiving news that Venice is sinking into the Adriatic, the team heads to Italy. In a mid-credits scene, the Silver Surfer's seemingly lifeless body floats through space. His eyes then open and his board races toward him, hinting that he is still alive.
With Fantastic Four grossing $330 million worldwide, 20th Century Fox hired director Tim Story and screenwriter Mark Frost in December 2005 to return for the superhero team's sequel. Screenwriters Frost and Don Payne were hired to write the screenplay. Payne has said the film is based upon "The Galactus Trilogy", in which Galactus also makes an appearance, as well as issues 57-60 in which Doom steals the Surfer's power. Payne has also said the film takes inspiration from the Ultimate Marvel limited series Ultimate Extinction. As of March 2, 2007, Galactus's design was not yet done, and by April 18, until hiring Laurence Fishburne to perform the voice of the Silver Surfer, the filmmakers were unsure of whether the character would speak.
The film includes the Fantasti-Car, a larger role for Kerry Washington's character Alicia Masters, and in June 2006, the Silver Surfer was announced to appear in the sequel as a "villain / hero". The Silver Surfer was created by combining the performance of actor Doug Jones and a grey-silver suit designed by Jose Fernandez. FX shop Spectral Motion created the Surfer, who was then enhanced by a new computer-generated system designed by WETA.
The sequel, whose working title was Fantastic Four 2, was officially titled Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in August 2006 with filming beginning on August 28 in Vancouver and set for a release date of June 15, 2007. Michael Chiklis's prosthetics as The Thing were also redesigned to allow him to take it off in between takes and for better ventilation.
In August 2006, actor Andre Braugher dropped out of his supporting role in the TV series ER to be cast in Rise of the Silver Surfer. Braugher was cast as General Hager, whom director Story described as "an old acquaintance of Reed Richards and one of the major additions to the movie". In September, Jones was confirmed to portray the Silver Surfer in addition to Julian McMahon reprising his role as Doctor Doom. The Baxter Building was also redesigned.
There were 14 filming locations: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Giza, Egypt; London, England, UK (second unit); Los Angeles, California, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai, China; Pemberton; Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada; Vancouver British Columbia, Canada; Dumont Dunes, California, USA; Russell Glacier, Greenland; Suruga Bay, Japan; Fallston, Pennsylvania
The teaser trailer was initially exclusively attached to Night at the Museum. It was released to the general public online on December 26, 2006 on the film's official website. The theatrical trailer was scheduled to appear with the film Disturbia, on April 13, 2007, but errors occurred and Tim Story announced that it would be released with Spider-Man 3 on May 4, 2007. The theatrical trailer was finally released online on April 30, 2007 on Apple Trailer's website. 20th Century Fox launched an outdoor advertising campaign at the end of February. The cast also made an appearance at the Coca-Cola 600 Nextel Cup NASCAR race in Charlotte over Memorial Day weekend.
In late May 2007, 20th Century Fox struck a deal with the Franklin Mint to promote the movie by altering 40,000 U.S. quarters and releasing them into circulation. All of the altered quarters were minted in 2005 and honor the state of California as part of the 50 State Quarters program created by the U.S. Mint. The altered quarters feature the Silver Surfer on the reverse along with a URL to the movie's official website. Once the U.S. Mint became aware of the promotion, it notified the studio and the Franklin Mint that it was breaking the law by turning government-issued currency into private advertising. The federal mint did not indicate whether a penalty would be effected.
The film was released October 2, 2007 on DVD in two versions. The first was a single-disc Widescreen/Full Screen version. A two-disc "The Power Cosmic" Edition was also released that day, as was a high-definition Blu-ray Disc. The film was also released on HD DVD outside of the U.S.
On its opening weekend, the film was the highest-grossing movie at the U.S. box office, reaching approximately $58 million, $2 million more than its predecessor. On its second weekend, the film had a 66% drop, and then had a 54% drop in its third weekend. The film grossed $289 million worldwide, including a $131.9 million gross in the United States and Canada and $157 million overseas. The budget was $130 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 37% based on 168 reviews with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While an improvement on its predecessor, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is nevertheless a juvenile, simplistic picture that has little benefit beyond its special effects." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 45 out of 100 based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the same grade earned by its predecessor.
Rise of the Silver Surfer won two awards: the 2008 Golden Trailer Award for "Best Teaser Poster", and star Jessica Alba winning the 2008 "Favorite Female Movie Star" Kids' Choice Award. Rise of the Silver Surfer was nominated for five additional Kids' Choice awards. The film was nominated for two Razzie Awards including Worst Actress for Jessica Alba and Worst Screen Couple for Alba and Ioan Gruffudd, but lost both awards to Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me.
The main four cast originally signed a three-movie deal, with Fox Studios and Julian McMahon also signed for a third film. Michael Chiklis was told Ben Grimm's relationship with Alicia Masters would have had a greater focus in a third film and Jessica Alba expressed interest in introducing Franklin Richards, while Beau Garrett wished to return as Nova. Tim Story said he was interested in directing a third and fourth film and writer Don Payne stated while he had not discussed a sequel with the studio, he was interested in working with more Fantastic Four characters saying "I’ve always loved the Inhumans, the Skrulls, the Puppet Master, and Annihilus and the Negative Zone". As Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer performed less at the box office than the first film, 20th Century Fox was unsure of the series' future, and no script was in development. In March 2008, Chris Evans revealed, "I'm pretty sure we won’t do another one. I’m assuming that one is a closed book."
In August 2009, Fox announced plans to reboot the Fantastic Four film franchise, with Michael Green and Jeremy Slater writing, Seth Grahame-Smith polishing the film's script, and Akiva Goldsman and Matthew Vaughn producing. After the release of 2012's Chronicle, Josh Trank was linked to the reboot, and in mid July 2012, he was officially announced to be director. Filming started mid September 2013. As it is produced by Fox, the film is independent from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fantastic Four was released on August 7, 2015 and fared worse than its predecessors both critically and commercially.