Twentieth Century Fox is so confident in what they have with the reboot of the Fantastic Four movie franchise that they greenlit a sequel before the public had even seen a photo from the first movie. Now that the veil of secrecy on the superhero team’s new origin story has been lifted, we can see concerns and skepticism about the project begin to fade away.
The first trailer for director Josh Trank’s take on the Fantastic Four has finally been released, and with it, the first official poster, photos and some interviews from Trank himself and producer Simon Kinberg, who both helped co-write the Fantastic Four reboot with Jeremy Slater. Alongside the trailer debut, the pair spoke to a few publications about the project and what’s revealed in the trailer, adding a lot of much-needed contest but maintaining a certain level of secrecy for good reason.
We’ve gathered the highlights of what they’ve along with our thoughts on the marketing assets released thus far, to compile a list of cool things we now know for certain about the new Fantastic Four and what it aims to bring to audiences.
1. This Is The Ultimate Fantastic Four
Josh Trank takes inspiration from the artwork by Bryan Hitch in The Ultimates – the Ultimate Marvel Comics version of The Avengers. The grounded approach, characters and origin story of his Fantastic Four movie reboot is based largely on the Ultimate Fantastic Four (read about the differences to the original team here). That means a new origin story, a younger team and even a different team dynamic.
Given that the Ultimate X-Men comics are also used as a source of inspiration for the X-Men films, it’s easy to see potential future connections between the properties and why Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four co-creator Mark Millar was brought into the fold by the Twentieth Century Fox as a consultant on their own Marvel universe.
2. It’s All About The New Generation
Josh Trank made his big break with the superhero found footage film Chronicle, which helped land him the Fantastic Four director’s chair (and that of a Star Wars spinoff!). While Fantastic Four doesn’t use found footage, it is embracing a similar theme. Simon Kinberg explains to Yahoo:
“We wanted to tell a generational story. We did it in Chronicle and we do it in this movie with it being about the next generation. It’s one of the reasons we looked at The Ultimates as part of the inspiration because they are a younger Fantastic Four.”
This helps differentiate this take on the property from the previous theatrical Fantastic Four films by the studio, and will hopefully help the brand avoid the same issues Sony is facing in rehashing the same material in The Amazing Spider-Man movies and not differentiating them enough from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy.
3. Modernizing Is The Only Way
The amount of doubt and skepticism surround the Fantastic Four is exactly why it’s being built and marketed the way it is (more on that later). The idea is to modernize the Fantastic Four and make them relevant again – to take elements of a comic that doesn’t sell greatly, one that Marvel Comics is cancelling – and make it something different, interesting and viable as a film franchise that can compete in a crowded, big budget genre. The official Fantastic Four plot synopsis speaks for itself:
A contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
Josh Trank sold FF creator and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee the same way he sold Twentieth Century Fox.
“I told [Stan Lee] why I wanted to do the Fantastic Four and he just genuinely loved the idea that somebody would be taking the Fantastic Four seriously like that and putting them into a modern space.”
Pre-conceived notions on the story, characters of this new version of the Fantastic Four and casting don’t matter. This is a new and modern version. There are reasons why Fox wanted to keep this property while letting Daredevil go back to Marvel and why it already has a sequel scheduled. You’ll just have to wait and see if the plan works.
4. Grounded & Dramatic
Those dreaded marketing buzzwords “grounded” and “dark” have been overused since filmmakers, talent, media and fans began comparing anything and everything to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Sure. Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four will avoid the campiness and highly comedic route of the previous iteration, but when the creative team explains that they are going for “grounded and dramatic” that’s how they constructed the story and cast the film.
Kinberg explains that they “wanted to be grounded and dramatic we went for the four best dramatic actors.” And up until now, the cast was the only thing interested moviegoers had to go on in setting their expectations for a Fantastic Four reboot. Now that we know the “grounded” science fiction angle Trank is taking as well (more on this next), and we context for which to understand the tone of the Fantastic Four – a tone fans have been clamoring for from this property.
In the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, the characters don’t really use their codenames or refer to themselves as the “Fantastic Four.” That might be the case in the film as well.
5. More Science In Science Fiction
Where Disney’s Star Wars is more fantastical than sci-fi, and where Disney-Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a superhero-esque adventure in space, Fantastic Four aims to keep its outlandish plot elements and settings grounded by science.
When the FF comic and characters were created in the ’60s it was a time where the race to the moon was that next major scientific milestone and accomplishment for the world and that played into the origin story of the Fantastic Four characters. For a new generation, a new generation of heroes needs that new frontier to explore. This is where the Ultimate Fantastic Four inspiration comes into play with its inter-dimensional origin story (more on this later). For Trank, he “really wanted to see science in science fiction.” Simon Kinberg:
“I remember from the beginning with this movie [Josh Trank] wanted to explore what that new frontier would look like and do a superhero movie that was as grounded in science and reality.”
X-Men: Days of Future Past introduced time-travel into Fox’s Marvel universe and Fantastic Four introduces the concept of multiple dimensions. Marvel Comics aficionados can piece together where this may be heading…
6. The Thing Is CGI For A Reason
Four years ago at Comic-Con, we spoke with someone from Fox’s special effects department who told us that in the next Fantastic Four they would make The Thing 100% CGI. That holds true with the exception that Jamie Bell, the actor playing Ben Grimm this time around, will have his eyes show through from his motion capture performance. Josh Trank explains:
“It only made sense to use mocap technology to bring Ben Grimm to life and being able to register all the details of expression and emotion through the motion capture performance because Jamie Bell is such a terrific actor.”
The Fantastic Four teaser trailer showcases a snippet of Grimm’s transformation scene where he breaks out of a rocky cocoon. The final shot features him in all his rock-like (and pants-less) glory (see below) with his larger shape and size more reminiscent of the comics. We’ve yet to see his face.
7. There Will Be Costumes
After Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm acquire super powers due to their experiment gone awry, they develop and wear what Josh Trank calls “containment suits” that help control their powers and keep them in check. The early artist renderings of these suits from this week match that which was revealed in the trailer and depicts the Human Torch’s suit featuring air vents and Richards’ suit built with springs, seemingly to recall his limbs when they stretch. Expect these designs to just be the first iteration of their field outfits and they might get something a little more superhero-esque at some point during the movie… or in the sequel.
Kinberg tells Empire:
“We want some of that to be a surprise. It is in many ways an origin story, but it’s also about how they react to this transformation, and the ways the world does or doesn’t react to them, which is different, I would say, than all other superhero films.”
The Fantastic Four, in the comic and the earlier movies, were always a very public team. How would modern society actually react to young 20-somethings with superpowers performing heroic deeds and saving the world? They’d become celebrities and they may just wear the costumes to live up to that. It remains to be seen if and how that’s explored in this Fantastic Four or its 2017 sequel.
8. Another Dimension
From the trailer we know that the construction of a device to allow for inter-dimensional exploration is a key plot of point of the film, and like in the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, the use of this device has severe repercussions and gives the heroes (and villain(s)) to be their powers. Beyond that, we don’t know what this technology will be used for in the story or future Marvel movies by Fox. Kinberg would only say that the “characters go to another dimension” and that “it was something we discussed from our earliest conversations.”
In the original Marvel Comics, the Fantastic Four are hit by cosmic rays while on a starship. A version of that was adapted in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie and this time around, it’s the Ultimate storyline all the way. The potential for what this science fiction element brings to the movie – and the larger universe the studio is building towards – is limitless.
Inter-dimensional travel could be the doorway to bridging this movie and its sequel into the X-Men franchise. Perhaps it paves a path for Galactus and space-based adventures to make their way to Earth. Fox does own the film rights to lots of space-based characters Marvel Studios very much wanted back. For the hopeful fans out there, this plot device could theoretically even be used to bridge universes together if you believe it’s possible to see the Fantastic Four meet The Avengers one day…
9. There’s A Reason The Marketing Is Late
Up until this week, there have understandably been a lot of complaints about from eager fans about the marketing – or lack thereof – for Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot. We had it on good authority that Fox was planning to debut the project and its cast at San Diego Comic-Con last summer but it never came to be because Trank and the team were simply not ready and they wanted to ensure that when they do unveil Fantastic Four, it would be with finished effects. There’s too much riding on this venture to introduce it without a bang, after all.
“We wanted the visual effects to be as complete as possible. We know this movie is going to have a little more scrutiny than most, and we wanted to make sure the visuals represented what Josh really pictured for the film. Creating a fully CGI Thing is no easy task!”
The trailer, poster, images and interviews all coming out this week for Fantastic Four erase concerns and questions about the marketing of the project and represent just the beginning of the eight-month marketing campaign before Fantastic Four releases worldwide in theaters in August. Believe it or not, there was even more skepticism surrounding the lack of marketing of James Camerson’s Avatar – another Fox tentpole film – and look how that turned out. Even the marketing for X-Men: First Class started two months later relative to Fantastic Four.
10. Avoiding Spoilers
The Fantastic Four teaser trailer is just that – a teaser. Similar to what we’ve seen from Marvel Studios’ marketing of their 2015 flagship release, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, they aren’t showing much. And we’re very pleased with that. We even had to write a long list of films partially spoiled by their trailers recently which included the first Avengers. It’s an unpleasant trend to see many highly anticipated releases be over-marketed by studios in an attempt to draw in more ticket buyers.
Josh Trank tells Empire that they’re carefully balancing marketing the film with keep the surprise, taking a page out of the J.J. Abrams book of movie secrecy, which is why Doom is barely in the trailer but is shown in two key scenes with some mysterious dialogue at the end.
“We live in a time where there’s a required instant gratification from audiences. That’s a fun challenge in terms of putting together this teaser, picking and choosing how much you’re actually giving away.”
“What we’re doing is quite different, and we want people to get a sense of it. There is a mystery, and the slow immersion into that is part of the experience of what will ultimately be the movie. We wanted it to feel different and represent what’s unique about the film. It has a little more restraint, maybe, than some other trailers these days.”
Did you find the first Fantastic Four trailer to be effective? Did you opinion on the project change after watching it? Are you eager to see and learn more or are you ready to keep the surprise and see it in theaters? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Josh Trank directs Fantastic four from a screenplay by Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg and himself. It’s produced by Matthew Vaughn, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Robert Kulzar, Gregory Goodman and stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell.
Fantastic Four opens August 7, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Gambit is coming October 7, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 2, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.