While promoting Twentieth Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot that’s finally in theaters after several delays, star Miles Teller – who plays super genius Reed Richards in the film – attempted to temper expectations when it came to review scores. But there was nothing he could do about this.
Fantastic Four, directed by Josh Trank and starring Teller alongside Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, and Toby Kebbell, currently sits at a whopping 9% on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes with 6% Tomatometer score for its “Top Critics.” The actual average review score is 3.4/10, putting it even less than 2005’s awful Elektra film starring Jennifer Garner.
With 145 reviews currently counted on RT at the time of this publication, the Fantastic Four reboot has solidified itself as not only the worst-reviewed Fox-Marvel movie ever, but the worst reviewed film (judging by the Tomatometer) out of any and all theatrically released movies with a Marvel license. Even on Metacritic, the other notable review aggregator, Fantastic Four sits with an average review score of 27/100 with only one (1) review out of 37 scoring higher than 50/100.
“Rarely are films of this size critically well received. This is not a movie we’re going to go on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s going to be at 80 or 90 per cent.”
-Miles Teller talking to BBC News
Only part of this is true, Mr. Teller. By comparison, the most recent Fox-Marvel movie (X-Men: Days of Future Past) sits at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 7.6/10. Here’s how 2015’s Fantastic Four compares to Marvel’s worst over the years – and think about that for second, that in 2015, as we near double-digits of DC/Marvel movie releases annually, that a relaunch of a key property is sitting alongside the worst ever:
- Elektra (2005) – 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Howard The Duck (1986) – 14% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) – 17% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Blade: Trinity (2004) – 25% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Ghost Rider (2007) – 26% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Punisher: War Zone (2008) – 27% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Fantastic Four (2005) – 27% on Rotten Tomatoes
- The Punisher (1989) – 28% on Rotten Tomatoes
- The Punisher (2004) – 29% on Rotten Tomatoes
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) – 37% on Rotten Tomatoes
There are some exceptions of note here, including Howard The Duck which has far less reviews but an actual lower average score on RT. There’s also the original 1990 Captain America which is actually listed on Rotten Tomatoes with a 9% but it never got a wide theatrical release and it only has 11 reviews.
Early reactions and reviews to Fantastic Four from advanced screenings painted at bleak picture, but no one suspected the film was going to get as critically panned as it currently is. It’s so bad in fact, that the director (Trank) took to Twitter the night before the film even opened in theaters to say that it’s not his fault – that he had a better version a year ago that the studio ruined. That Tweet was quickly deleted.
The result of the poor reviews is a significant one financially. Early estimates had Fantastic Four opening domestically to a near $50 million weekend debut, a forecast that was adjusted down to $40 million. And as of yesterday, this estimates dropped again to $30 million as reviews and overwhelmingly negative word-of-mouth turn moviegoers away. It also has a major impact on long-term franchise plans.
Needless to say, the 2017 date currently held by Fox for Fantastic Four 2 probably won’t be used for a followup. There likely won’t be a direct sequel at all, meaning Fox can use these actors (who are all contracted for multiple pictures) in another movie, potentially crossing them over with the X-Men; reboot them again; or sell/trade them to Marvel.
Reports over the years indicate that if Fox doesn’t have a Fantastic Four film in production after a certain period of time, the rights automatically revert back to Marvel (just like Daredevil did) so we find ourselves in a situation similar to Sony Pictures’ with Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed to hit the studio’s high financial and critical benchmarks and they fell into a publicity hole where for moviegoers and critics suffering of franchise fatigue, it was down to what mass audiences want to see more: Amazing Spider-Man 3 and forced spinoffs or a new Spider-Man who can share the screen with The Avengers? Marvel and Sony found a way to help each other out while bolstering both of their cinematic universes and box office appeal.
After this bomb for Fox, there’s going to be little interest in seeing an FF sequel or another all-too-soon reboot that’s not part of Marvel, so the best option for the future of the Fantastic Four is seeing them in the MCU. Perhaps Fox can benefit from this by trading rights for the TV rights to the X-Men live-action series they’re planning, or long-term, even merging continuities much like Sony is doing with Spider-Man appearing in Captain America: Civil War next year.
And it’s not just about the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom. By Fox failing to relaunch Fantastic Four as a sustainable series, they’re preventing other key characters and alien races that they hold the rights to from getting their own debuts in followup stories or stories Marvel wants to tell in their franchise. In Guardians of the Galaxy for instance, James Gunn couldn’t use the Badoon – an alien race Fox has the rights too – even though Fox will never use them either. There are many others too, including the key cosmic character Galactus and Silver Surfer – the latter of which FF star Jamie Bell wants to see in a sequel that probably won’t happen.
Fox had their chance. It’s time for a change that could benefit all parties involved, most especially the fans.
Update: Not to keep piling on, but Fantastic Four has also earned the lowest CinemaScore of any superhero movie ever with a C-. Keep in mind, this is from polling actual moviegoers and not critics… That’s even worse than The Spirit.
Fantastic Four is now in theaters. 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.