Dr. Reed Richards, Ph.D aka Mr. Fantastic is an American Nobel prize winning scientist and inventor, who has been considered the smartest man on Earth. Richards was exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation along with his best friend Ben Grimm, then girlfriend Sue Storm and her younger brother Johnny Storm, during a trip to space in the stolen rocket; Marvel-1. The radiation mutated him and his friends, allowing him to stretch and mold his body at will. Together they became the Fantastic Four, a team of adventurers who explored space, time and alternate dimensions and saved the world along the way from science-based threats.
Perfection — and nothing less. Those were the expectations that Ned and Donna Van Allen had for their son since the day he was born, and thankfully, Reed seldom disappointed them. As a pair of upper middle class parents obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, Ned and Donna needed a son who could prove that they were just as good — if not better — than all the other families on the block, and to his credit, Reed often delivered.
A gifted student and slightly better than average athlete, respectful of authority and kind to everyone, Reed was popular and loved throughout his childhood and adolescence, even if he could never shake the insecurity of being just slightly too bookish, or the fear that one small step out of line and he'd lose it all. It wasnt that his parents were cruel or witholding. They praised their son more than anyone in fact. But that praise was always tied to his accomplishments, and Reed never had the courage to let them down.
So at eighteen they sent him off to college, a textbook people-pleaser and perfectionist whose whole sense of self was tied up in success. Luckily, those types were a dime a dozen at Harvard where he concentrated in physics, and at MIT where he got his doctorate in biotechnology, and at Stanford where he worked on a post-doctorate in a bio engineering lab. All along the way, Reed was a success. Or at least, he certainly seemed that way. High-achieving in every way it seemed to matter, it was easy to overlook the lack of meaningful relationships in his life and the worry that nothing he was doing really mattered — even for Reed himself.
A postdoc turned into a professorship and for a moment it looked like this would be it from here on out, a life of isolated laboratory research in between trying to be the best mentor possible for his students. It could have gone exactly that way until a diagnosis changed Reed's life -- not his own, but his college roommate and best friend, one of the few people who had managed to pierce through Reed's seemingly flawless exoskeleton to see the real man underneath.
He knew he had to leave treatment to the doctors, but almost to fight his own anxiety, Reed started pulling overnighters in the lab and full weekends involved in research, putting in extra time to try and understand the condition, find a way to make a difference. The science was fascinating to Reed's mind, but it needed to do so much more than that. It needed to help people. And suddenly there it was — an innovation. Technically it was a small tweak to an existing model, correcting a few errors in biologic understanding with his knowledge of physics and engineering - but in the preliminary tests it was clear: this could save lives. The idea came right as his friend made his own recovery with the help of doctors, but Reed knew he owed so much of this breakthrough to him.
After that, in short succession, Reed made some of his riskiest and most spontaneous choices to date. He quit his job, moved to San Francisco, and is in the middle of learning how to scale a business through trial by fire. Its hard and its exhausting and that's exactly how Reed knows its the right thing to do. He might fail, but hopefully he can save some lives along the way.