Saving Fant4Stic

“I think the truth is we would not make another Fantastic Four movie until it was ready to be made. One of the lessons we learned on that movie is that we want to make sure we get it 100% right, because we will not get another chance with the fans.”

             — Producer Simon Kinberg, 20th Century Fox

That’s very much true. The previous Fantastic Four film was made for the sake of being made in order for Fox to hold on to the movie rights. They also made the film to be different for the sake of being different by casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch thereby having to race-bend the Storm family and portraying Susan as being adopted. Many fans found it to be a travesty and unnecessary. To be fair, the rest found the twist okay and upon watching didn’t seem to matter much except for the story and how they handled Doctor Doom.

Fox made the same mistake as with the previous Doctor Doom by tying his origin to the four and giving him powers of his own. First, we got metallic Doom which was awkward already. Instead of acting like a malevolent but sympathetic character, we got a Doctor Doom that was obnoxious, petty and childish. He was the Magneto from the 60s cartoon trying to rob a bank instead terrorizing the world in his fight for mutant supremacy. Now we have a lovesick Doctor Doom with no real motivation, no charisma and totally looking like a mess, something which drove comic book fans crazy. Doctor Doom is a great character onto himself and has the potential to solve Marvel’s villain problem.

With the explosion of geek culture and social media, comic book and gaming fans have a louder voice than ever before and have the power to drive comic book movies through the roof with YouTube videos, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and endless articles of what they think about upcoming and screening superhero films. Like I often say, please those fans and the rest of the public will come. You can’t just go building a mall in the middle of the desert and expect people to shop like that character did in the 2002 film Eight Legged Freaks. Even with African-American fans, the race change for established Caucasian character Johnny Storm was not well accepted even though Michael B. Jordan is a fine actor. The internet went wild with what happened.

But didn’t race and gender bending on The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, not to mention having bad villains work for Marvel? Well, Marvel has a good track record when it comes to their films, and what they often do works and their what-happens-next-soap-opera-like shared universe keeps fans coming. Story-wise, they have to make compelling screenplays, or a bad film will be like a monkey-wrench in their massive machine. Directors’ creative egos cannot be a factor in Kevin Feige’s grand plan as the main story is already at play since the beginning. Any character changes will only work with his approval of the screenplay.

Except for the X-Men, Fox doesn’t have that kind of structure. Even the X-Men shared universe is rather messy where films like Deadpool and Logan are difficult to place in. Logan has so far had good preliminary reviews, and hopefully, both films will reconcile and correct the mess of a timeline Fox has after X-Men Apocalypse.

Fantastic Four is currently dead in the water, at least in the next few years, for the movie studio unless 1) They give up and sell the rights to Marvel Studios, 2) They make a similar deal with Marvel like SONY did with Spider-Man and 3) They make a film that’s true or very close to the source material and not the mess that was Fant4stic. Kinberg was correct in saying that the Fantastic Four film should be made when it’s ready, when they get the film to be 100% right. He, however, is partial to keeping the current cast which takes a good chunk out of that 100%. Miles Teller and Kate Mara even voiced their willingness to work on the sequel.

The only thing that can save Fant4stic, should Fox decide on a sequel would be a good script and solid direction and perhaps even a blessing from Marvel Comics in the form of a new Fantastic Four comic book series. Marvel cancelled the Fantastic Four after the Secret Wars II event due to its rift with Fox, but they kept Doctor Doom who is now known as the Infamous Iron Man.

Apart from selling the franchise or making a Spider-Man deal with Marvel, another way to save Fant4stic is to reboot the film again and forget the previous film ever happened. Fox has until 2022 to launch another film. They could keep the project secret until 2021 in order for the public to forget the 2015 film as much as possible and stick as much as possible to the source material and maybe begin with Mole Man as the villain instead of sticking with Doctor Doom. Some fans suggested that they do a period piece in the 60s during the space race much like Fox did with X-Men: First Class.

Another is to make Doctor Doom the central character of the franchise as an anti-hero, in a film set perhaps in the 70s or 80s with the still human members of the Fantastic Four as supporting background characters (It’s actually a good idea for a TV series like Legion). Read a previous article I made if Doctor Doom is to be integrated into the MCU and tweak it a bit. He is a migrant freedom fighter from Latveria with two other motivations like a love for Sue Storm, a scientific rivalry with Reed Richards and freeing his witch mother from the clutches of Mephisto in hell. There, you have a complex sympathetic character that fans, the public and critics will love and not the amorphous blob of the previous film.

Bottom line, to save Fant4stic, do not continue that schtick unless handled competently. Haven’t seen Logan yet but they say it’s another bright light in the X-Men universe.