20th Century Fox is rebooting the Fantastic Four comic book movie franchise next year; and, in case you’re just tuning in, many people online aren’t so happy about the version that director Josh Trank (Chronicle) appears to be putting together. The project, for quite some time, has seemingly been drawing from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book continuity – which, like any superhero comic iteration, has its fans and detractors alike – and the film’s official synopsis provides further confirmation of just that.
Trank’s film, like the Ultimate comics, features versions of the titular super-powered group that are younger than their counterparts in more traditional F4 comics as well as the live-action films of the ’00s. The cast includes rising stars Miles Teller (Whiplash) as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara (House of Cards) as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, Jamie Bell (Snowpiercer) as Ben Grimm/Thing, and – most controversially – Michael B. Jordan (who worked with Trank on Chronicle and costarred with Teller in That Awkward Moment) as Johnny Storm/Human Torch.
Unofficial plot details for the Fantastic Four movie reboot – based on a final script draft penned by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) – have leaked in the past, but IGN has received confirmation from 20th Century Fox that the following synopsis (which first appeared on Rotten Tomatoes) is the real deal.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR, 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.
This narrative setup, as mentioned before, resembles that of the Fantastic Four team’s re-imagined origin story featured in the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book run (which ran from 2004-09). In that case, the future members of the Fantastic Four – due to a mistake made by their “friend turned enemy” Victor (Toby Kebbell in the reboot) – are teleported by accident to the “N-Zone” during an experiment being run by Richards; and thereafter, return to Earth mutated with super-powers.
Thereafter, in the Ultimate storyline, the Fantastic Four battle with Victor – who’s now the villain Doctor Doom – only after taking on the dangerous Mole Man. Harvey Elder, the scientist who becomes Mole Man, is played by Tim Blake Nelson in the movie reboot, but word is Harvey won’t be a super-villain in Trank’s film. (Maybe that’s being saved for the sequel scheduled to arrive in 2017…).
In truth, the idea that the Fantastic Four reboot is this huge departure from anything that’s come before in the property’s history is… well, simply not accurate. The film’s eponymous heroes, as far as we know, are essentially the same characters types that they have usually been; and even Doctor Doom’s tweaked origins aren’t that big a change, as was discussed by our editors on a recent episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast. And with a talented young cast, a director on the rise, and a screenwriter on a hot streak, the 2015 version of Fantastic Four has a lot going for it.
… However, as our editors also discussed, for the time being the Fantastic Four reboot very much faces a conundrum. Its multi-platform marketing options are limited and with no proper marketing to speak of right now (even while other Summer 2015 tentpoles are starting to build buzz), it’ll be all the more difficult for Trank’s movie to stand out as something worthy of attention. That’s, of course, assuming that the film proves to be a worthwhile addition to the superhero cinematic genre, in the first place.
One memorable trailer could change that but first, y’know, that footage needs to be made available for the general public to see…
Fantastic Four opens in U.S. theaters on August 7th, 2015.