By now, everyone knows that Twentieth Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot was an epic failure – both critically (becoming the worst reviewed Marvel movie ever) and commercially (earning $55.7 million domestically as of this writing). Whether you want to blame the studio for interfering or director Josh Trank’s alleged erratic behavior on the set for how things turned out, there’s no denying that the project has morphed into a mess for all involved.
Honestly, that fact is a little frustrating, since Fantastic Four was a film that had potential. Featuring a talented cast of up-and-coming young stars, and the possibility of crossovers with Fox’s X-Men franchise, there were plenty of reasons to look forward to it prior to the film hitting theaters. And it’s because of that squandered promise that many – including Fox’s creative consultant Mark Millar – have expressed regret over the final product.
In an interview with IGN, Millar talked about Fantastic Four‘s shortcomings, while also hinting that it could have been a very good film:
“It’s a shame because I think elements of it were good. Some bits were good. I remember the first half in particular works well. [Josh Trank] is brilliant. Chronicle was my favorite superhero movie in 2012 — and be reminded Avengers was out that year. I really love Chronicle. It’s just a shame sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Nobody goes in hoping it’s not going to work out. Everybody is trying their best and those guys worked their asses off. It didn’t quite come together as well as they hoped, which is a shame.”
Millar’s comments echo the sentiments of several who saw the film; the film’s first act is generally believed to be an intriguing piece of sci-fi drama, before the story completely derails after the main characters all get their powers. Millar seems to be offering a great deal of support for Trank (who claimed his original vision would have been better received), but he’s not exactly pointing the finger at Fox at the same time. He seems to just be disappointed in the end result instead of looking for someone to blame.
Despite Fantastic Four performing so poorly, Fox remains committed to figuring out a way to do a sequel. Given that the studio has lost close to $100 million on their investment, Fox might be better served rethinking those plans. Millar addressed the franchise’s future by saying it’s a fluid situation:
“I think everything’s open to discussion. No decision I think has been made on anything yet like that. There’s chats everyone’s going to have on the phone at some point, but the Marvel brand is such a powerful brand. Marvel doesn’t always work out great — Thor 2 didn’t work out especially well, Iron Man 2 didn’t work. But then Iron Man 3 comes along and it’s great. These things can be uneven sometimes. Avengers 2 is nowhere near as good as Avengers 1.”
Millar may be right in stating that Iron Man 2 wasn’t as good as the first Iron Man, but his comparison to Marvel Studios’ “inferior” films is simply apples and oranges. Thor: The Dark World grossed $644.7 million worldwide from a $170 million production budget and Iron Man 2 made $626.9 million globally (without 3D) on a $200 million budget. Those figures blow Fantastic Four‘s $164 million worldwide intake out of the water. Yes, some Marvel movies aren’t considered to be great films, but they still make large amounts of money – and Marvel has never put something out that got as bad reviews as Fantastic Four.
Finally, Millar chimed in on the future of the superhero genre, which has been a hot talking point among Hollywood big shots recently. Specifically, he offered a response to Steven Spielberg’s belief that comic book movies will eventually go the way of the Western:
“The human race will go the way of the Western. Everything has to end at some point. [Laughs] We’re just going to be atoms. It’s inevitable. I think [the superhero movie genre has] got at least another good five years. The stuff that’s coming up is so strong.”
Spielberg may have rattled some cages when he said superheroes’ popularity will eventually die out, but he did make a valid point. There will be a time (just like every other big genre in movie history) where comic book films are usurped by a different kind of movie at the top of the food chain. It’s true these projects can be a little more flexible in their tone and adapt to different genres, but chances are it can’t go on forever. And if Millar’s right and we “only” get five more good years of this, that means we’ll have three complete phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (culminating in a two-part Infinity War event) and two Justice League flicks. Fifteen years ago, comic book fans would have happily signed up for that.
Fantastic Four is currently 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 (probably not anymore) on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutantsis also in development.