Most people will agree that 2015's Fantastic Four was not a success. With only a 9% on RottenTomatoes.com, clearly it was a disappointment to a majority of its viewers. In fact, the movie has not even grossed half of the money that was put into producing it.
But where did this film go wrong? To me, it started as a good movie. There was plenty of character development, interaction and back stories that were consistent throughout the film, until it reached one certain point...
The climax / final battle 'ruined' the film
The most important part of giving a movie a good reputation is having a good ending. That final note is what fans will remember when they leave the theater and tell their friends about it.
The rushed atmosphere, the vague details and the overall unbelievable events made the finale of Fantastic Four into what many consider to be a disaster. The movie had a strong build up with different character interactions, but all of that was thrown away when this other conflict suddenly appeared. It was unbelievable and hard to follow, which gave this movie a bad reputation.
What could they have done differently?
Clearly, there could have been a much better path to follow to make the ending bigger. But what is it? It all goes to one of the biggest complaints about the movie: Doctor Doom. The villain, who is one of the best Marvel villains in the comics, came off completely different in the movie. His story was rushed and was never really explained, his actual powers were never introduced and his 'evil plan' made very little sense. Doom was rather out of place in this movie.
So if Doctor Doom was not the right villain for the finale of Fantastic Four, then who was? The answer was sitting right in front of us during the entire course of the movie.
"Dr. Allen" should have become the main villain
When Tim Blake Nelson was first cast, his character name was reported to be Harvey Elder. This was, for unknown reasons, changed during the production of the movie to Dr. Allen. For those who don't know, Harvey Elder is one of the Fantastic Four's recurring villains in the comics, named Mole-Man.
In the comics, Elder was a nuclear engineer and explorer who was very misunderstood (so basically Dr. Allen). He decided to explore an unknown location (similar to the rest of the plot of Fantastic Four) which damaged his eyes, but improved his other senses. He went onto become a supervillain who used his genius and technological skills to become a threatening foe to the Fantastic Four.
How could Mole-Man have been portrayed during the movie?
We already saw Dr. Allen (Harvey Elder) becoming a sort-of villain as the plot of the movie built up. He began to become mad with power once he started working with the government. He finally had the control and recognition he had dreamed of; he easily could have just kept trying to move up from there. Soon, his power-hungriness would have made him an enormous threat to the four kids, trying to enforce them as slaves to follow his order. Perhaps he could have even tried entering the other dimension himself to become Mole-Man, improving his senses and making him stronger.
This scenario would have caused the Fantastic Four to unite as a team to fight for themselves and their freedom instead of saving the world from its unexplained doom. We could have seen the progression of the four choosing to team up as they put aside their disagreements to rise up and take a stand for themselves and for their freedom.
The movie does not cover them actually putting aside their differences and resolving the conflict that had risen earlier in the film. Instead, it only shows them teaming up only because they had a common enemy. Adding the idea of rising up against the forces trying to control them would have made their unity as a team much more believable and relatable. It would add a much stronger feeling of accomplishment when they go off on their own as a team rather than the vague resolution we were given during the movie that just didn't feel complete.
Where would we have seen Doctor Doom?
Doctor Doom would still need to be referenced during the movie since Victor played such a big part during the first act of the film. This absence could be solved by referencing Victor after his death (which the movie failed to do) about how they wished he was still alive. From there, when they 'scan' the other dimension, perhaps they could have sensed a distant, human-shaped life form in that mysterious, uninhabitable world.
At the end of the movie, there could have been an end credits scene, perhaps of Mole-Man, who would have been banished to the other dimension, coming across the distant figure who revealed himself to be Victor before killing Mole-Man. This build up would make fans much more willing to go see the sequel, in addition to giving Doctor Doom time to have a legitimate story during the next movie.
The change of making Mole-Man the main villain over Doctor Doom may be big, but it could have made Fantastic Four into a much better and more enjoyable film. It would have properly resolved the conflict that was building up throughout the rest of the movie instead of tossing it away when a bigger conflict arises. It also would have made the final resolution of the movie much more understandable, giving the audience a larger feeling of relief and joy when the team finally goes off on their own, not because of a horrific event, but because they stood up for themselves. It truly would have resolved what the rest of the movie had built up to and made Fantastic Four into a much more superior movie.