Why ‘Fantastic Four’ was such a huge disaster

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photo courtesy of the collider.com

Josh Trank stares onto set with utter misery.

Alec Badalian, Magazine Editor

Earlier this summer on Aug. 7, 20th Century Fox released their long awaited reboot of the Fantastic Four, which ended up being, literally, the worst superhero movie ever made. It was critically torn apart, as it currently sits at a dismal 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences were similarly dissatisfied with it, leaving it with an equal terrible 20 percent. Its box office draw, both domestically and overseas, was embarrassingly low, having only grossed an estimated $164 million worldwide on a projected $120 production budget, which doesn’t account for marketing. Overall, the film was said to have lost over $60 million for the studio.

A sequel is still set for a June 2, 2017 release date, but based on its critical and financial outcomes, there’s a high chance for it to be postponed or even fully scrapped. There were talks at one point that rather than moving forward with a sequel, Fox would instead rush a sequel to their highly-anticipated R-rated comic movie Deadpool. Greenlighting a sequel months before a film’s release has proven to be a bad idea, yet Fox is persistent on doing so for their newer Marvel properties, which the studio has been handling quite poorly.

Four of the six X-Men have been quite great, and Deadpool has shown some great potential, but other than that, Fox has done nothing but drop the ball with their attempts at adapting Marvel comics to the big screen. The first two Fantastic Four films, while somewhat financially successful, were critically panned, yet not as bad as the 2015 version. But what happened behind the scenes of this reimagining of the comic book franchise was far more interesting than anything that actually happened on screen.

Production was set to begin in May 2014, when just three days before principal photography began, Fox took writer/director Josh Trank’s script and made major changes to it, completely ruining his vision. The studio removed three major action scenes due to unexplained reasons, possibly due to budget constraints, which was one of the many things wrong with the film, the significant lack of action. It is a superhero movie after all.

But Fox was never concerned with the quality of the film, as they just wanted to rush a Fantastic Four film into production in order to maintain the rights. The studio’s contract with the Marvel Comics brand states that they must have a Fantastic Four film released at least once every six years or else the rights will go back to Disney’s Marvel Studios, which released all of the Avengers films. So the sole purpose the film was forced into theaters was because Fox just wanted to retain the rights, not because of some grand inspiration.

The studio’s mindset and handling of the project created a great deal of frustration for Trank, who previously wrote and directed Chronicle for the studio. His behavior on set was erratic, as he was rumored to be highly uncooperative and isolated, as he pitched a black tent around his monitor during shooting. He was also said to be horribly rude to actress Kate Mara, who was Fox’s first choice for the role of Sue Storm, not Trank’s. Trank did however get to have Miles Teller as Reed Richards the way he wanted despite Fox’s wishes for casting the Whiplash star. But that didn’t stop Trank and Teller from constantly bickering on set, to the point of actually throwing punches at one another.

After all of the madness on set, production ended in Aug. 2014, and Trank’s cut of the film screened for Fox executives the following month. The studio was not thrilled with what they saw, saying that it was extremely different from most superhero films and had a predominant sci-fi aspect to it, something the studio thought wouldn’t sell to mainstream audiences. That’s when Fox took total control of the production and things went completely off the rails.

In Jan. 2015, the studio mandated a supposed month’s worth of reshoots which not only cost them more money, but angered Trank even more. It’s unknown whether or not he was called back to finish the reshoots, but it’s speculated that he was not. The scenes that were reshot are painfully obvious in the film, as Mara is sporting a ridiculously noticeable wig for a majority of the last half of the film.

Once Fox wrapped the reshoots, they took away Trank’s final cut privileges, as they took complete control of the editing room. The studio cut huge scenes out of the film that, again, are noticeably absent, as they were featured in behind-the-scenes footage and various trailers. Such scenes include the Thing dropping from a helicopter, Reed Richards confronting Dr. Doom on a lab bed and the appearance of the Fantasticar, a staple from the comics.

The aforementioned tweet sent out by Josh Trank.
photo courtesy of thewrap.com
The aforementioned tweet sent out by Josh Trank.

At this point, Trank was in complete disapproval of the film as it in no way captured the vision he had for these characters. The studio’s meddling of the project was what caused Trank’s rage to grow and grow, ultimately leading to the infamous tweet (shown on the side) he sent out the night before the film was released. He took it down just minutes after tweeting it, but not before everyone on the Internet took a screenshot of it.

People have been taking different sides on this matter. Some are saying that Trank wasn’t capable of taking on such a big project with only one film under his belt and that his “fantastic” version of the film might not have been that fantastic. Others say Fox is to blame and that they should have just let Trank’s vision play out the way it was agreed upon once the studio greenlit his script.

No matter what side you take, it can be almost universally agreed upon that Fantastic Four was a fantastic flop and that Fox really needs to step their game up from here on out, because if they don’t, they could kiss their rights to the franchise goodbye.