8. The Fight For The Rights:
When Marvel were facing bankruptcy in the ’90s, they sold off the film rights to some of their most popular characters. Spider-Man went to Sony, while Fox scooped up Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. Since then, the House of Ideas has obviously capitalised on the characters they do own, turning B-List heroes like Captain America and Iron Man into A-List box office draws even more popular than those they originally pawned.
The fine print of those deals has never been revealed, but it’s thought that if the studios do nothing with the characters they own for seven years, the rights will revert to Marvel. That’s why Daredevil went back to Marvel in 2012, and also why Fox rushed both X-Men: First Class and Fantastic Four into production (they can get around that seven year rule by keeping a project in active development).
Make no mistake about it; Fantastic Four was rushed into production so the studio wouldn’t risk losing the rights to Marvel. Their decision to do so was no doubt motivated by the fact that Marvel had made it clear they wanted Fantastic Four villains Galactus and Silver Surfer in 2012 when they offered Fox the chance to keep Daredevil – which would have robbed us of that amazing Netflix series – in exchange for them. Talk about an early sign this film wasn’t being made for the right reasons.
While many fans have spent this past weekend fantasising about the Fantastic Four going home, Fox can sit on the team for another four or five years before moving ahead with another movie, something that would then give them yet another seven years !
7. Early Rumours:
With Josh Trank confirmed to direct and an impressive young cast in place though, it appeared as if Fantastic Four had the potential to be as good a reboot as X-Men: First Class was back in 2011. However, it was a few weeks after they had all been announced that the first negative rumour about the movie surfaced, and it was this which almost immediately soured a lot of fans on the prospect of it being made.
According to Bleeding Cool, Fox wanted to fire Trank and writer Simon Kinberg and start over. The site also claimed that they also weren’t too keen on the cast and wanted to replace them too. This was six months before Fantastic Four was set to start shooting, and a lot of websites laughed off this rumour as being complete nonsense. As time passed, there was no sign of any major changes being made to the movie, and these claims were quickly forgotten about. Even so, the fact that Fox potentially had no faith in this version of the movie swayed the opinions of many.
Nearly a year later, Bleeding Cool would report that Fox were considering not bothering to shoot what Kinberg claimed was only a few days worth of reshoots and just scrap the movie altogether. That would have meant it would never be released, and after their previous report had amounted to nothing, the site were widely ridiculed for their seemingly ridiculous claims.
Over the past few days, a number of reliable sources (including The Hollywood Reporter and HitFix) have confirmed that Fox did clash with Trank over the casting of the five young leads and were unsure of his vision from a very early stage, leading to later clashes on set. It’s also been revealed that Fox did seriously consider just throwing in the towel before those reshoots, giving Bleeding Cool some vindication. More importantly, these rumours were a clear indication that Fantastic Four was in serious trouble from before the cameras even started rolling, even if no one was sure if they should believe them at the time!
6. Victor Domashev Controversy :
Kate Mara put her foot in her mouth by revealing in an Esquire interview that Josh Trank had told her and the rest of the cast not to bother reading the comics while preparing for Fantastic Four, a statement which is easily the last thing fans of the source material want to hear. After this, everyone was convinced that this movie wouldn’t be a faithful take on the team, and even more fans would turn against it as a result.
This was made worse when Toby Kebbell confirmed those fears in an interview with Collider about his take on Victor Von Doom. Revealing that his version would actually be called Victor Domashev, the actor described the beloved villain as an “anti-social programmer” who is known as “Doom” only on blogging sites.
Needless to say, the outrage at these comments online was massive. Fans were horrified at the character – a Latverian dictator in the comics – being botched on the big screen for a second time, and the fact that Doctor Doom was essentially going to be transformed into an internet troll led to the movie being widely ridiculed by even non-fanboy websites.
Now, most movies would forge ahead regardless of a vocal online reaction like this, but Fox (clearly lacking confidence in Trank’s vision) removed almost all of this from the movie in response, and the only glimpse of Victor Domeshev which remains is perhaps his first scene in Fantastic Four which sees a dishevelled Kebbell sat in front of a number of monitors and using technology to control his surroundings. The actor would later try and talk his way out of the controversy by claiming what he had said was just a “rumour.” Eh ?
5. Josh Trank Losing It?
Surprisingly, Fantastic Four was absent from the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. The lack of even a single official image had fans fretting about why Fox were sitting on the movie (the release date had already been pushed back from a prime spot in June to August), but then one possible explanation surfaced which had everyone talking.
A anonymous LSU forum post claimed that, “Trank showed up to set late or so high he couldn’t speak almost everyday. Some days he didn’t show up at all. He treated crew terribly. He trashed the house the production company rented for him. From what I’m told he did a couple hundred grand worth of damage.” Another even said that the director had been fired after principal photography wrapped up and that post-production and the later reshoots would all be handed over to other parties involved with the movie.
Despite those comments bordering on slander and a forum post never being a reliable source of news, they still received a lot of attention and dealt the movie another serious blow.
Some months later when, Josh Trank was a no show at Star Wars Celebration and then parted ways with Disney and Lucasfilm over his 2018 Star Wars Anthology movie, The Hollywood Reporter ran a story which seemed to confirm all of the above. While there was no mention of the filmmaker’s possible drug use, his behaviour on set was described as hostile and erratic, while he apparently had indeed trashed the house which was rented for him by the studio. The trade claimed that Trank simply couldn’t deal with the pressures and responsibilities involved with making a movie like Fantastic Four.
Even Fox weighed in on this controversy, admitting that “there were some bumps in the road” but promising that they were still “very happy” with the film. Yeah, right!
4. 40 Pages Of Reshoots :
Despite the fact that some sites like to make a big deal out of a movie undergoing reshoots, they’re perfectly normal, and pretty much every major release has at least some. However, despite writer/producer Simon Kinberg’s claims that Fantastic Four would only undergo them for a few days, The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit has since revealed that as many as 40 pages worth were done.
The fact that Kinberg even found it necessary to comment on Bleeding Cool’s claims that Fox execs were describing the movie as a “mess” says a lot, and this ultimately just gave us all another reason to worry about Fantastic Four. It’s a shame too, because the first trailer actually won a lot of people over, especially as the tone Trank was going for started to become clear.
Tellingly, the majority of scenes in that teaser weren’t in the final cut. While watching the movie, it’s easy to see where the new scenes begin thanks to Kate Mara’s hilariously awful wig (the actress cut her hair shortly after filming wrapped), while other notable changes include the mysterious substance on Planet Zero being changed from red to green in what seems to be an attempt to simplify Doom’s origin story.
Some recently revealed B-Roll footage spilled the beans on even more drastic alterations. Reed, Sue, and Johnny – it’s not clear where The Thing was at this point – would have originally travelled to Planet Zero in a ramshackle Fantasticar created by Reed and hinted at during the opening scenes of the movie when his teacher poked fun at the youngster for wanting to create a flying car.
It’s clear that whatever Fantastic Four was at one point, the reshoots turned it into something completely different…
3. Miles Teller Predicts The Future :
None of the Fantastic Four cast had seen the movie when it came time to promote it, an unusual occurrence, but one which might make sense given that it would have been tough for them to enthusiastically promote something they knew was terrible. However, if their unenthused performances in the movie’s final act – almost all of which is made up of footage from reshoots – didn’t make it clear that they must have known it wasn’t great, Miles Teller’s surprising comments days before Fantastic Four was released certainly did!
“This is not a movie we’re going to go on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s going to be at 80 or 90 per cent,” he said. “We did try to do something more than soulless, popcorn action. We tried to make something coming from a more dramatic standpoint so we’re hoping that people enjoy it and recognise that we’re trying to do something original.” There’s something ironic that movie, particularly in its final act, is just that: soulless, popcorn action.
Teller’s comments were quickly circulated and interpreted as him having no faith in the movie being any good. Even if that wasn’t what he originally meant, the fact that even one of Fantastic Four’s leads weren’t sure about it being a critical hit gave fans yet another excuse to not care about the movie. Even the relatively divisive Ant-Man has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 79%, so it’s not like plenty of comic book movies don’t reach the numbers Teller was talking about being unlikely for Fantastic Four. Of course, no one expected it to go quite so low…
2. The Reviews :
The fact that reviews for Fantastic Four were embargoed until a day before release was not a good sign. Reviews for the majority of Marvel Studios movies – or any release which the studio has full confidence in – tend to come online a good week or two ahead of the film’s big screen debut, so Fox holding them back was a clear indication that they had little faith in it.
The first wave of reviews for Fantastic Four came from trades like The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and Variety. They always tend to be tough on superhero movies, but found nothing good to say about the reboot. With it being described as “not an embarrassment, but an experiment that didn’t gel” there were still those who thought that entertainment websites and geek blogs would be a little kinder to the movie; they weren’t.
Every review was of the 1* and 2* variety, with the odd 3* review which seemed to struggle to justify going even that high. That already low Rotten Tomatoes score plummeted as a result, and Fantastic Four now has a 9% approval rating, making it one of the worst reviewed comic book movies of all-time. Of course, there are plenty of movies which have received terrible reviews but still been box office successes, so there was still nothing at this point to say that wouldn’t be the case for Fantastic Four.
Not even word of mouth could save the movie, as it received a dreaded C- CinemaScore from moviegoers in North America. That’s the worst rating ever for a superhero move (worse even than Batman And Robin), and a sure fire sign that Fantastic Four failed to connect with critics, fans, and the general audience. That would be reflected in its abysmal box office performance.
1. Josh Trank’s $10 Million Tweet:
Days before Fantastic Four was released, Josh Trank apparently sent select cast members an email in which he said Fantastic Four was “better than 99 percent of the comic-book movies ever made.” The response from one cast member was simply, “I don’t think so.” Perhaps it was that – and the overwhelmingly negative reviews – which prompted the director to vent his frustrations on Twitter with the Tweet you see above.
Box office analysts have since predicted that the Tweet – which was quickly deleted, but still received mainstream media attention – cost Fantastic Four as much as $10 million during its opening weekend in North America. Fox likely won’t sue the filmmaker for that, but Entertainment Weekly reported that he was biting the hand which has been helping to stop the truth coming out about his behaviour on set by sharing that.
Perhaps that’s why The Hollywood Reporter has since been able to run an exposé of sorts, revealing that Trank acted even more bizarrely than previously though. Among the allegations are that he told his actors when to blink and breathe during takes, built a tent around his monitor during shooting to hide from his cast and crew, and defaced the photos of the family who owned the house he was kicked out of for trashing.
Regardless, after a dismal opening weekend, Fantastic Four is a guaranteed flop and is expected to cause Fox to lose upwards of $60 million. Where the franchise will go next is a mystery, but when even a movie’s director doesn’t want you to see it, you know that it has to be bad and so Fox can thank Josh Trank for the hit they’ll take on this ill-advised reboot!
Did you see Fantastic Four? Did it deserve to bomb so badly?
Share your thoughts in the comments.