The first Fantastic Four movie, which ended up being way more fun than I ever expected, especially after suffering through as much of Taxi as I could tolerate, was originally slotted for a July 4th release date to take advantage of its title’s numericality (not an actual word). But Marvel’s first family flinched in the face of the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg/alien invasion trifecta, losing some of that marketing synergy.

They’re not prepared to make the same error twice — Fox has already put its feet down firmly on July 4th, 2007 for the sequel, which also confirms the rumors that production on a follow-up would begin early next year. This date will put it  against Optimus Prime and his mechanical buddies in Dreamworks’ Transformers project, which is currently also still a vapormovie.

No story ideas have been revealed for F4-2 or whatever abbreviation the promo-monkeys devise, but the main cast (including Jessica Alba’s exceptional backside) is all expected to return. I’m not sure if the same holds true for director Tim Story, but I’d like to believe someone with slightly more visual ingenuity could be secured.

Fox is gaining notoriety for sketching in a release date for their superheroes and worrying later about the small matter of actually making a movie — they originally saddled the first X-Men with a date and forced a filmmaking crunch on Bryan Singer and his crew (apparent in the film’s quality — come on, people, that movie could’ve and should’ve been so much better), and are now doing the same with Brett Ratner’s third mutant entry, which is hellbent on beating Singer’s own Superman to theaters, potential disasters be damned.