In the current golden era of superhero films, there are few that have garnered as much fan and critical derision as Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot. The blame for the film’s stale reception has been blamed on the behavior of the director during filming and clashes with the studio that kept many of the geek-friendly concepts from making the final cut, although Stan “The Man” Lee would have us believe that it was his lack of involvement in the picture.
In the wake of scrapped Planet Zero and Doom Castle concept art that recently surfaced online, a few very revealing concept images for the proposed Fantasticar and the H.E.R.B.I.E. robot have now been revealed. Fans can check out two different concepts for H.E.R.B.I.E. and four versions of the Fantasticar that give us a further taste of what could have been.
These images of H.E.R.B.I.E. and the Fantasticar were posted on Facebook by concept artist Fausto De Martini. Moviegoers may know De Martini’s work from the recent Robocop reboot . He was responsible, along with designer Eddie Yang, for design work on the RC001 and RC002 Robocop suits. H.E.R.B.I.E. was going to be included in the Fantastic Four reboot not just as a nod to long-time fans, but also to provide some comic relief – a concept that Fox executives were not on board with.
H.E.R.B.I.E., or Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics, is a comical robotic member of the Fantastic Four that was first introduced to audiences back in 1978 in the Fantastic Four cartoon. The lovable robot was added to the team in lieu of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, as the original team member was optioned by Universal for a live action television pilot at the time. That television pilot never came about, but a new addition to the Fantastic Four fictional universe was born.
A spin-off character like H.E.R.B.I.E. normally wouldn’t get a lot of fan respect, but Fantastic Four creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created him themselves, adding much needed credibility to the friendly robot. A robot character was likely the natural choice in the wake of the rabid popularity of the original Star Wars film and its lovable droids just one year prior. H.E.R.B.I.E. sports an impressive list of abilities, which range from lasers and several hidden tools, to being able to connect with any computer. He would become one of the first cartoon characters to crossover to the comic books just one year later in Fantastic Four #209, pre-dating the now infamous cartoon-to-comics crossover of Batman villain Harley Quinn.
The Fantasticar has been part of the Fantastic Four team almost from the beginning, debuting in the comic book Fantastic Four #3 (1962). The car has underwent several modifications and re-designs over the years, but all versions were created by Reed Richards, also known to fans as Mr. Fantastic. The original car was able to split into multiple sections, so that each team member had their own individual flying portion. This feature has been present in every version thereafter. Its unclear from the artwork whether the Fausto De Martini designs would have included this special feature. The Fantasticar, unlike H.E.R.B.I.E. has already had a feature film debut. Fans were given a very different version of the flying car in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).
What do you think of the unused designs for H.E.R.B.I.E. and the Fantasticar? Would they have made the film better?
Fantastic Four was released in theaters on August 7, 2015. Deadpool opens February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.