20th Century Fox’s bid to rejuvenate one of its Marvel properties payed off last year, when X-Men: Days of Future Past became a critical/commercial hit – paving the way for three new X-Men films (Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Gambit) to be green-lit for a 2016 release. This year, the studio is aiming to repeat that trick with its Fantastic Four movie reboot: a project that already has a sequel scheduled for 2017.
Fantastic Four (2015) was scripted by Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg and directed by Josh Trank. Based on what we’ve heard and seen thus far, the movie is going to fall into the Christopher Nolan camp of superhero filmmaking (see the Nolan movie-esque teaser trailer), combined with a storyline that offers modern coming of age drama via a super-powers fantasy parable – recalling Trank’s debut feature, the found-footage Chronicle.
Trank has previously spoken a bit about this “grounded” approach to the Fantastic Four property – an approach that stems right from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book continuity of the 2000s – and how this has informed everything from the film’s general tone to the title characters’ costumes favoring practical function over stylishness with their design. The director offered more insight on the matter, when interviewed by Empire (via The Playlist):
“The original two [‘Fantastic Four’ films from the 2000s] to me are very similar to a lot of recent movies that have come out, in terms of that kind of cartoonish [tone]. It’s just not something that me and [producer] Simon [Kinberg] are interested in as storytellers. There’s the opportunity to make something that is challenging and tragic and dramatic. The opportunity is right there in the material. We’d rather steer it in that direction as opposed to just embracing a tone that comes right off the page.”
It was during that same interview with Empire that Trank compared the Fantastic Four reboot to a Steven Spielberg Amblin feature from the 1980s/90s, regarding how the film blends the fantastical (sci-fi setting, super-poweres) with realism in terms of character drama. His comments about recent movies having a “cartoonish” tone was presumably a reference to the various comic book adaptations released by Marvel Studios – whereas Fantastic Four, as suggested before, seems closer in atmosphere to the recent slate of DC comics-based features.
Fox is certainly hoping that this new take on Fantastic Four resonates with moviegoers, what with a sequel already planned. Disney/Lucasfilm’s announcement yesterday that Star Wars: Episode VIII will be arriving May 26th, 2017 has prompted Fox to scoot Fantastic Four 2 back a week (to June 9th) that year – giving it extra breathing room, away from said Star Wars film. For the time being, the Fantastic Four sequel is the only tentpole scheduled for arrival on its new date.
The short of it: between the casting of younger leads – Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell – and Fox planning ahead for the future (see: the mystery Marvel film scheduled for 2018), the pieces are in place for this rebooted comic book film series to live beyond a single installment. Whether or not those plans will come to fruition – that remains to be determined.
Fantastic Four opens in U.S. theaters on August 7th, 2015, with Fantastic Four 2 to follow on June 9th, 2017.