Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot (or, colloquially, “Fant4stic”) was more or less the notorious box-office bomb of 2015. In addition to being despised by critics, roasted by Marvel fans and roundly rejected by mainstream moviegoers, it was openly disowned by its own director amid a career downturn that may have led to (among other things) his no longer directing an unnamed Star Wars spinoff. As a final indignity, Fox recently opted to quietly take plans for an immediate sequel off the schedule entirely – signaling that the franchise is once again quite dead.
Well, maybe next to final indignity: Movie-dissecting YouTube fixture CinemaSins has finally turned its sights on the feature, resulting in a video takedown that runs nearly a full 20 minutes.
On one level, it’s not entirely surprising that CinemaSins would be able to find 20 minutes worth of complaints to register about the film: It was one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, jam-packed with head-scratchingly bad creative decisions and obvious budget-handicapping giving critics and audiences alike plenty to grouse over already. It was also highly derivative of other superhero films, meaning that the same overused cliches and tired plot devices pointed out in prior instances can be raised once again here. Since nearly everyone (who bothered to see it) seemed to agree that it was awful, there’s no incentive to spend any time trying to answer “defenses” that could instead have been spent on further analysis.
What’s noteworthy about the piece is that, apart from some very general questions raised about what Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby would’ve thought about a particularly dark spin on the origin of the “It’s clobberin’ time!” catchphrase, the roster of “sins” is largely free of so-called “fanboy complaints” about things like the team’s uniforms, altered origin stories, Dr. Doom’s costume, Johnny Storm’s ethnicity, etc; instead favoring criticisms of film technique and narrative structure almost exclusively. An interesting approach, especially that a common defense for poorly-received adaptations of this nature is that they’re unfairly attacked for fandom nitpicking rather than legitimate flaws.
On the other hand, CinemaSins itself has proven to be a controversial brand in its own right. Many film critics and cultural-commentators have cited the series as an example of “clickbait” web content, or opined that “checklist-criticism” undermines the nuance and thematic observation that film criticism is ideally meant to be conducted with. That having been said, while the series itself will undoubtedly continue to have its detractors, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming enthusiastically the defense of Fant4stic.
Whatever CinemaSins has to say or not say on the matter, future prospects indeed look dire for The Fantastic Four. With sequel plans seemingly off the table, the studio clearly more interested in setting up future X-Men spinoffs, and Marvel Comics itself putting its onetime flagship title in mothballs (allegedly) until the movie rights no longer rest with a rival film company, all eyes look to Marvel Studios hopefully reacquiring said rights to rescue the characters… but, as yet, there’s been no indication that Marvel has any immediate interest in doing so. With a full slate of films scheduled through 2019 (at least!) it’s unclear where an MCU Fantastic Four would even fit in.
Whatever happens, we’ll likely be following the future of the Fantastic Four for some time to come.