UPDATE: Someone Misspoke. READ HERE how The Fantastic Four reboot Relates to the Comics.
Fox’s reboot of The Fantastic Four has been criticized since its inception as being a bastardized knockoff of the classic Marvel Comics property. The two biggest reasons why hardcore fans have been so upset over this new take on the F4 (shephereded by Chronicle director Josh Trank) have been unorthodox casting choices (read: they made the Human Torch black) and a script that – even while wrapped in secrecy – seems to be taking some big liberties with the comic book source material.
As Comic-Con 2014 rolls around (where we expect some Fantastic Four surprises), it seems that this film could be under heavy scrutiny (read: all-out assault) – especially when fans learn that The Fantastic Four has even less to do with the comic books than they may have originally thought.
Now, just to be clear: Nobody really knows what Trank and his co-writers Simon Kinberg (Days of Future Past) and T.S. Nowlin (The Maze Runner) have in store for us – but according to one of the principal cast members of the film, they aren’t looking to the comic books for any inspiration. Here’s what Kate Mara (a.k.a. the new Sue Storm/Invisible Woman) had to say to Esquire Latinoamérica:
I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published. So I chose to follow his instructions. The one fact is I am a fan of comic book movies, so it’s very exciting to be part of a movie like this.
I don’t feel more responsibility with this role that I’ve felt with others. I understand that there are many fans of Fantastic Four and I guess they expect a lot from me, but I prefer not to be pressured by that. We are also trying to create a new way of seeing these superheroes, I’m focusing on making her (Susan Storm) as real as possible.
I was excited, but I only focused on doing the best I could. I think there are roles you get if that’s what needs to happen. I kept everything in perspective although expected to stay with the paper, because the movie has great actors like Michael B. Jordan (who will be the Human Torch).
Now, just to be clear again: An actor does NOT have to be a die-hard comic book fan to portray a superhero onscreen in convincing and honorable fashion. An actor simply has to understand his or her character, which the writers have hopefully adapted in a way that jibes with the core elements of the source material. So Kate Mara never having read a comic book is not the crime here.
What many fans may identify as the crime, is the implication that Trank and the writers aren’t using anything from the history of Fantastic Four comics to create their new vision (beyond the character names and basic characteristics, powers, etc.). However, there is room here for some debate as to whether or not breaking free of the source material is a good move.
Whatever fans may want to say about fidelity to source material, the actual numbers don’t lie: Fantastic Four has had some of the lowest comic book sales of any Marvel property for quite some time. In other words: the source material isn’t that popular. In that sense, avoiding direct emulation of something that is clearly unpopular is more pragmatic than it is heretical. It’s also funny to hear Mara say that the film isn’t adhering to anything “already published“; there’s room in that statement to assume that, if successful, The Fantastic Four movie reboot could end up influencing the comic that inspired it.
Right now, it seems that Marvel’s handling of Fantastic Four (a low-selling comic book they pay to produce, servicing a movie whose profits they don’t see the bulk of) is an uncertain one. It’s not out of the question that if Josh Trank and Co. produce a blockbuster hit out of their revised vision of the super team, Marvel Comics wouldn’t mold their book after it, in order to maybe capitalize on better sales. It wouldn’t be the first time a successful movie altered the nature of its comic book source material (see: the black leather invasion within X-Men comics of the early-to-mid 2000s) – the key is making the movie a success in the first place.
Hopefully we find out more at SDCC 2014 next week, where The Fantastic Four could potentially make a surprise appearance and finally reveal footage that might turn the tide of low expectations and fanboy hate. We’ll see (maybe).
The Fantastic Four will be in theaters on June 19, 2015.
Sources: Esquire Latinoamérica via CBM