What’s on Wayne: Why the Fantastic Four was doomed from the start and how to save it
- Credit: Archant
So, the recent Fantastic Four reboot Trank-ed at the box office, what a surprise. The script was rushed, too dark, the shoot was a mess and Marvel’s first family are, frankly, duller than Superman.
Director Josh Trank - who basically used the money to make an even worse version of his 2012 superpower flick Chronicle - blamed Fox, tweeting the night of its release he’d made “a fantastic version” of the film that audiences would “probably never see”. Somewhat at odds with the email he reportedly sent some cast and crew members days before, saying he was proud of the finished film which he claimed was “better than 99% of the comic book movies ever made”.
Hit indie directors rarely fare well with blockbuster franchises; look at Alien 3. Sources say Fox wanted a gritty new take on the foursome and on the basis of Chronicle thought Trank was their man. The warning signs were obvious early on.
He fought Fox for Miles Teller to play Reed Richards; allegedly then nearly coming to blows with the actor on set. The studio then cast Kate Mara as Sue Storm despite the director’s wishes. Reports of Trank’s erratic behaviour soon began to surface. On-set sources say he was cold and abusive towards the cast and crew, withdrawn and unwilling to accept help. Talk of rewrites and reshoots - borne out by Mara’s changing hair - in an attempt to save the movie in the editing suite followed.
The studio clearly buried its head in the sand. There were signs of trouble before the cameras started rolling, with rewrites and delays. The only reason it pushed forward with the film was because it didn’t want the rights to revert to Marvel, which had been forced to sell heavy-hitters like the FF, the X-Men and Spiderman in the 1990s when it was facing bankruptcy. By the time it realised the train was out of control, everybody had no choice but to cling on and hope for the best.
Despite the FF’s distrastrous opening - the worst featuring a Marvel character in the last 10 years, take a bow Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengence - Fox is reportedly “committed to the property”. A better idea would be to delay the proposed 2017 sequel and have the FF crossover with the X-Men. Its spot in the schedule could be replaced with a sequel to its comic book stable-mate Deadpool which is attracting a lot of buzz.
The comic-book die-hards won’t rest until the FF are back under Marvel’s wing. Nearly 30,000 fans have already signed a Change.org petition demanding Fox sell it back the rights. Given what I’ve read about X-Men Apocalypse I’d like the X-Men sold back too.
The FF - a somewhat middle-tier comic book - on the big screen has always been a hard-sell. One of the biggest criticisms of Trank’s take was it was a humourless, joyless, colourless translation. If Fox or Marvel want to make it work they need to look at Captain America: The First Avenger or the excellent Agent Carter TV series and set it in the 1960s where its kitschness can be capitalised on.
The movie’s clobbering won’t halt the wave of superhero movies heading to our screens but one good thing has come out of this mess. Trank won’t be helming a Star Wars stand-alone film after all. It seems the force was with me...
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