One of 2015’s most-anticipated films, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four ended the year, instead, on countless “Worst Movies” lists. Still, months later, moviegoers remain divided on the whether the film had any redeeming qualities (read our Fantastic Four review). Some fans believe that Trank was on track for something special (a sci-fi story that didn’t shy away from horrifying moments in the team’s origins) but was sidelined by studio interference. Others were less generous, claiming the film was a complete failure on all levels – though detractors disagree about where exactly it all went wrong. Some criticisms were more level-headed than others but, in the end, few were satisfied – including 20th Century Fox, who earned only $56 million of a $120 million production budget back domestically.
Trank’s Fantastic Four would eventually go on to earn over $160 million at the global box office (with further revenue coming from merchandise, home market sales, and rentals); nevertheless, even if the studio made money back on the film overall – there’s no question that the reboot hurt the brand more than it helped. In an increasingly packed superhero movie market, the 2015 Fantastic Four movie was a chance to prove the classic team could remain relevant – a chance that was ultimately squandered. Still, with Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s always possible that Fox could still work out a deal for F4 characters to appear in MCU films. If they did, Michael B. Jordan is interested in returning as the Human Torch.
In an interview with IGN, Jordan reflected on Trank’s critical and commercial bomb – suggesting that he and his fellow actors gave the project 110% but, understandably, had no control over the final product:
“I look back at the film as a learning experience. Every film isn’t going to be a home run. Everybody involved didn’t set out to make a film that didn’t work. I think everybody wants to do the best job possible. I think it was a big education for me to realize that things aren’t in your control, and you can do everything you’re supposed to do. You can give 110% every day, and the movie still may not work out. But that may or may not be on you and you’ve got to be OK with that. Moving onto the next thing. For me, first thing off I had this project [Creed] coming on right after, so it makes it a little bit easier to swallow.”
Pressed to elaborate on what went wrong, Jordan blamed the “extra stuff” that goes on “behind closed doors” for why the film didn’t work:
“I’m not sure man. Honestly, there are so many things outside of the actor’s control. You know, as much as we want and we like these characters, and we like these worlds and stuff like that, we have such a small say in what goes on behind closed doors – all that other, extra stuff. Also, I love the character. I’m a big comic book fan, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it in the first place. We’ll see what happens.”
Jordan doesn’t point a specific finger or take a side in the ongoing blame game between Trank and Fox, the actor simply relays his own personal frustration with the final product. While the Jordan’s casting was a source for pre-release controversy, one that still ruffles the feathers of certain Fantastic Four fans, the choice to portray Johnny and Sue Storm as different ethnicities was ultimately explained in the film: Dr. Franklin Storm, Johnny’s biological father, had cobbled together a “family” of young geniuses that were previously shunned by society (going so far as to adopt Sue as his own). It was an interesting idea, one that (in a more coherent movie) might have reinforced the Fantastic Four‘s long-running exploration of a superhero “family.” Unfortunately, thematic parallels were as undercooked as the central character arcs, offering little room for Jordan, or any of his fellow cast members, to define their characters beyond franchise outlines.
Yet, even after Fantastic Four became one of 2015’s most criticized movies, the Creed star is still open to the possibility of reprising his Human Torch role and giving the character another go.
Asked whether he’d ever be willing to return, Jordan flat-out stated:
“Johnny Storm is an incredible character. Why not?”
Critics will, without question, scoff at the idea but Jordan isn’t wrong: comic book readers know Johnny Storm is an incredible character and wasn’t afforded a fertile foundation to develop in Trank’s Fantastic Four. Even though the Fantastic Four comic book was recently cancelled, and the film franchise has (again) been shelved at Fox, that doesn’t mean that individual F4 characters couldn’t be put to good use in a future Marvel Cinematic Universe film (assuming their owners can work-out a cross-studio, Spider-Man-like, deal). Most Marvel readers will easily recall the importance of Reed Richards in the print Civil War story – and, as recently as October 2015, Johnny Storm joined the newly-formed Avengers Unity Division as a core team member.
That all said, no matter how much faith Marvel might have in Jordan as an actor, it is near-impossible to imagine the studio would have any interest in connecting their successful shared universe with the convoluted world established in 2015’s Fantastic Four. After all, Marvel didn’t want to bring Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man into the MCU, favoring to cast an entirely new actor for a full reboot of the hero instead; so, it’s highly-unlikely they’d be open to reintroducing Jordan’s version of Johnny Storm – no matter how good the actor might be in the role.
More than likely, it will be a long time before fans ever see the Fantastic Four again on screen – as a team or separately. Though, it’s encouraging to know that, even after all the problems with Trank’s film, Jordan is still passionate about the character. It is that passion that caused a lot of comic readers to look past race and get excited about what the talented actor could bring to the part. Unfortunately, all that “behind closed doors” “extra stuff” (whatever it was) got in the way.
There are currently no Fantastic Four movies in development.