The Fantastic Four used to be one of the premiere super-teams in Marvel Comics, so it was no surprise to see them take the spotlight when the rise of superhero movies began in the early 2000s. But the result wasn’t exactly what fans had imagined (a point driven home by the eventual sequel). 20th Century Fox eventually rebooted the characters with a stellar young cast and a promising director, but the end result turned out to be one of the worst superhero movies in the last decade. Instead of taking the lighthearted approach of the original franchise, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four headed into a grounded, dark, sci-fi reality that was ultimately chopped apart by studio interference.
Thanks to a mess of a third act, audiences walked out with no more desire for the mutated heroes, causing Fox to pull the sequel off their schedule completely. As the studio tries to decide what move to make next – with rumblings of a possible return to Marvel – one of the film’s writers recently revealed what the far more ambitious initial treatment looked like.
During a sit down with ScreenCrush to discuss just what went wrong with Fantastic Four, writer Jeremy Slater revealed a very different movie he initially wanted to tell. Instead of focusing largely on the origins and Doom, Slater hoped to feature a variety of well-known characters, including a lighter tone that characterized the Baxter Foundation (where Reed built the teleporter device) as “a sort of Hogwarts for nerds.” In fact, the bulk of the action featured in the original movie would only have taken place in the first half of his original story:
“In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone, we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet. We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed. And if you think all of that sounds great…well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.”
On the surface, this all sounds better than what was given to fans in the final product. If you’re still on the fence, then maybe Slater describing Annihilus as “a pissed-off cybernetic T-Rex” will. Even though it would have been a comic fan’s dream come true seeing such a story on the big screen, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Slater’s story would have had the Fantastic Four fighting three villains, plus the introduction to Galactus and Silver Surfer – and even for the imaginative, the screen time needed to properly show them all seems impractical.
And as Slater pointed out, it wasn’t just Trank’s more grounded vision that ruled such a story out: even if it was able to sell audiences on the characters and world, trying to turn a profit on the $300 million budget Slater estimates would have been a serious challenge. Still, do you think it would have been a wiser road to take? Or would the plan to make an Avengers-sized debut film for the Fantastic Four seem like just as much cause for concern? Let us know what you think in the comments.
There are no current plans for a sequel to Fantastic Four.