When the Golden Age of Hollywood superhero spectacles began en force with the first X-Men movie in 2000, metahuman fans looked forward to the coming of a great Fantastic Four feature. After all, it was Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Girl, The Thing, and The Human Torch who kicked off Marvel Comic’s creative comics explosion of 1961, changing pop culture forever.
By the time CGI caught up to cinematic storytelling, adapting the FF was a no-brainer. The mythology had built-in dysfunctional family dynamics, a cosmic origin, awesome superpowers and freaky supervillains – what else do you need?
Still, there’s never been a really good FF movie. The mid-2000s efforts from Tim Story were instantly forgettable. The unreleased 1994 version was a nice try that suffered from a low budget. But Josh Trank’s 2015 Fantastic Four effort stank worse than a pile of Dragon Man’s doo-doo. And as bad as audiences think it was, the reality both in front of and behind the camera is even worse!
Here’s 15 Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About The Terrible Fantastic Four Movie.
15 No Stan Lee Cameo
Just as was the case with Alfred Hitchcock and his films in the past, looking for the obligatory Stan Lee cameo in any Marvel Comics-based movie has become a parlor game for fans. And it’s not exactly a Where’s Waldo? situation.
Ever the showman, Lee makes sure he is easy to spot every time his famous creations hit the silver screen. Scenes are even written to make him participate as a more active extra, saving lives, delivering mail and more. So why didn’t he make sure to appear in the 2015 FF? Was it the rumors of just how lousy it was going to be?
14 The Actor Playing Mr. Fantastic Dissed It
There’s an old saying – “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” It’s pretty amazing just how many of the cast and crew ran away from Fantastic Four once the bad reviews and poor box office became official. Not even the legendary team’s Mr. Fantastic, actor Miles Teller, could stretch himself into defending this flop. .
Teller even twisted into a defensive stance of his own performance in the film, stating in an interview, “You work harder on the bad films, or the films that turn out maybe not the way you intended, because something’s not working…”
Did you catch that? The FF was the “bad film” he was talking about. Not even Reed Richards could save it, it would seem.
13 The Actress Playing Sue Storm Won’t Watch It
One of the most consistent common of big Hollywood movie stars is, of course, vanity. In order to become a worldwide celebrity, you would have to be very into seeing yourself in pictures over and over again. But when it comes to Fantastic Four, lead actress Kata Mara just can’t bear to take a look at herself.
Becoming as invisible at the film’s screenings as her character, Sue Storm, Mara has chosen in this case not to gaze upon her performance.
In fact, when asked if she had seen the final product, not only did Mara reply in the negative, she added, “Neither did the rest of the world.” Ouch! She probably wishes she could jump on Doctor Doom’s time machine and prevent the whole movie from happening.
12 The Director Also Dissed It
If your own daddy isn’t going to love you, then who will? The ultimate disowning of the FF film came in the person of none other than Josh Trank, the movie’s director. Not even he wants to own this universally unloved superhero debacle.
Coming hot off of his critically-acclaimed debut feature film Chronicle, Fox Studios put a lot of stock into Trank’s sophomore effort. After its terrible reception, nobody wanted to take the blame. At one point, Trank tweeted, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.”
Soon after, he deleted the bitter missive. But the internet is more eternal even than the great Galactus himself, so Trank’s diss is forever.
11 Marvel Made Fun of the Film in a Comic
At this point, it’s not much of a secret that Marvel Comics is no fan of Fox Studios’ refusal to let their licensed X-Men and Fantastic Four characters play in the greater MCU movies. It’s so bad, that the FF doesn’t even have a monthly series at Marvel anymore. This is a huge bummer for fans of Marvel’s “first family” and it may be that the anger actually made it into the pages of another title from The House of Ideas.
In Punisher #12, three actors who look exactly like Kate Mara, Miles Teller and Jamie Bell – who is actually wearing a shirt with a “4” on it – lounge in a hotel restaurant. And they’re waiting for a guy named “Mike” (Michael B. Jordan?) to talk about a sequel being made by a director named “Trang” (thinly veiling Josh Trank).
By the bottom of the page, the whole building they’re in explodes, obliterating all within. Can you be more obvious?
10 A Lot of the Movie Was Reshot, and It Shows
Whenever rumors swirl about a big-budget tent pole property being sent in for extensive reshoots, you know that can’t be good. With Fantastic Four, word of production woes and dissatisfaction with the early screenings came much sooner than usual. As we now know, the movie was indeed overhauled with a great deal of new scenes filmed, apparently at the behest of Fox.
There are enough erratic story disruptions and questionable editing to serve as ample evidence for the audience. But all anybody has to do to be convinced is keep an eye on Kate Mara’s hair. Once you notice how many scenes feature her wearing a wig that’s way different than the actress’ real hair, you can't unsee it.
It’s understandable – when Mara returned for reshoots, she had a far shorter hairstyle than she did during the original production. But you can’t tell us there wasn’t at least one Hollywood makeup artist who couldn’t have found a better match?
9 Fox May Have Rushed to Make the Film in Order to Maintain Rights
Hollywood contracts can be wacky things. Back before Marvel Comics knew how to properly milk its universe into the cinematic money-maker it has become, the then-struggling company sold off a bunch of movie for their characters to studios like Universal, Sony, and Fox. It turned out to be a good risk for the production giants as they’ve enjoyed big hits in the Spider-Man, X-Men and Hulk franchises.
The deals broadly state that the studios can hold the movie rights in perpetuity – but only if they’re actually making movies. They have seven years after each movie's release to make another one in order keep those rights at Fox. If they don’t, the rights go back to Marvel.
The previous FF film, Rise of the Silver Surfer, came out in 2007. So a 2014 production set for a 2015 release pushes right against that deadline. This leads many to speculate that the project was rushed in a mad dash to preserve the rights. Which might be one of the reasons it came out so bad.
8 Fox Could Give Some of the FF Back to Marvel, in Exchange for Daredevil
However of a brave face Fox puts to it, it’s pretty hard for them to deny that its stewardship of Fantastic Four properties have been sub-par, to say the least. It may be just enough for it to yield some of that cosmic power in exchange for some hopefully greener pastures. There have been reports that in exchange for extending Daredevil rights to Fox, Marvel could receive two huge characters from the pages of the Fantastic Four: Galactus and the Silver Surfer.
Now why give up heavy hitters like that? After all, along with Doctor Doom, those two guys are the FF’s chief antagonists and supporting players. You would think they’d make for an awesome storyline. Giving up these classic figures in favor of a more gritty street level character like Daredevil may be a sort of admission that some stories are way too cosmic for Fox to handle.
7 It Broke Some Very Undesirable Records at the Box Office
Studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars making superhero franchise movies every year, because the global return can literally be in the billions. But when it came to Fantastic Four in the summer of 2015 – not so much.
By the end of its run, it was the lowest grossing film ever to be released in more than 4,000 theaters. It was also the worst superhero performer of that year, making a measly $56.1 million domestically against a budget about $120 million. Factoring in marketing budgets, it probably lost money even when the global take of $167 million.
Fantastic Four ranks #74 out of 120 all time superhero movie earners according to Box Office Mojo. And in terms of Marvel movies alone, it ranks at #40 out of 46 films whose totals are known, making it dangerously close to the worst performer of that universe ever. It may be time to flush this puppy out into the Negative Zone.
6 The Director Was Infamously Difficult On Set
We know, we know – this is hardly the first time we’ve heard about Hollywood folk behaving badly on film sets. Everybody from Christian Bale to Julia Roberts and Jared Leto have all had notorious meltdowns behind the cameras. While the cast of the besieged FF movie all ended up playing nice, director Josh Trank apparently may have not. F
or starters, he somehow apparently did $100,000 worth of damage to the house he was renting while filming in Baton Rouge. Reports of unhinged rants and hiding out in his trailer also emerged. But the weirdest thing is that he may have been banned from the actor’s dressing room at one point. Why? Looks like he and lead actor Miles Teller almost came to fisticuffs on set one day.
As the story goes, that was also on the top of a lot of abuse directed at the cast. It seems like somebody thought he needed a time out from attacking his thespians, Not the best way to direct a movie.
5 One of the Main Characters Is Naked for the Whole Movie
Every true believer of the Mighty Marvel stable of characters has a soft spot for the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing, otherwise known as Benjamin Grimm. His horrific transformation by cosmic rays left him tragically deformed as a rock-encrusted bruiser, a trauma he has spent the rest of his life struggling against. But one thing you've got to give to the comics creators writing and drawing Ben at least they gave him the dignity of wearing pants!
Actor Jaimie Bell was the first film version of The Thing done as CGI rather than makeup and prosthetics - and somebody made a choice to not give the guy any clothes. Once you realize that, you can’t not stare at his junk area, which is just another craggy mess of rubble. There is no obvious “exit” in front or back of the character’s nether regions, leaving one to wonder how nature takes its course for this Ken Doll of a superhero.
We also have to imagine that, as originally imagined by artist Jack Kirby, there must have been at least an outcropping to be covered up for modesty's sake, as a nice pair of blue shorts were always tailor-made for the big lug.
4 Critics Weren’t Allowed to Review the Movie Until the Last Minute
Anybody he knows anything about the movie biz knows that to launch the best possible marketing and publicity campaign for an effective release, studios need to give professional critics some advance screening opportunities so they can muster up a proper write-up for reviews...
Unless all involved believe the movie totally blows. In that case, you want to lock the movie up in a steel vault, buried deep under the ocean floor, so that nobody will see it until right before it hits theaters. Which is what happened with Fantastic Four.
The studio would not allow critics to watch the film until 48 hours before release, giving media precious little lead time to warn audiences to stay away, stay very far away, until it was too late. A pretty unheroic move for a movie about such super good guys.
3 3D was scrapped
Reshoots may have done more damage than just wig malfunctions and story problems. Originally, Fantastic Four was announced to be released in a 3D as well as 2D version in the theaters. And why not? Pretty much every big budget tentpole franchise blockbuster gets the additional dimension treatment these days. In fact, it’s downright weird that it wasn’t released in 3D.
Pretty much every other superhero movie since about 2010 has used the technology to great appeal. There were even poster prototypes made saying the FF film would be available in the format. So what happened?
Speculation is that budget overruns due to the extensive reshoots were to blame. But let’s face it, two dimensions of this hugely disappointing mess was more than enough. A third may have scarred us worse than Victor von Doom.
2 The Film Won a Razzie Award for Worst Picture of 2015
What’s that? There was zero consideration at the Oscars for Fantastic Four? The Academy overlooked this sadly misunderstood work at its annual awards gala? Well, no worries, because where the movie failed to win Hollywood’s highest honors, it picked up great notice from The Razzies, an award ceremony reserved for the least liked films every year.
In 2015, Fantastic Four won for Worst Film of the Year, tying with Fifty Shades of Grey for the dishonor. But that wasn't the only award! Josh Trank received the Worst Director nod, and perhaps most cruelly of all, the film ran off with the Worst Remake/Rip-Off or Sequel prize. This is the sort of thing that can really add insult to injury. But hey! At least the filmmakers can say they were the best at something that year!
1 The Director Has Vowed to Never Make Superhero Movies Again
For most directors pursuing a big-time Hollywood movie-making career, one of the biggest brass rings to reach for is being awarded the helm of a big budget movie produced by one of the major studios. It’s not only a huge payday, it’s a reputation-sealing gig, the kind of thing that Spielbergs and Lucases are made of… at least if the movies in question are big successes. Which Fantastic Four was not.
This lead to Trank tweeting that he would never work on a comic book movie again. It’s probably safe to assume that not only does that mean superheroes, but we shouldn’t expect him to lead a production of a new Peanuts movie either. Prior to Fantastic Four's release, Trank was on board to direct a standalone Star Wars movie, but after the disastrous production of FF, the plans fell apart.
But never fear, Josh is currently working on another movie, this time about none other than Al Capone. Maybe the mob will treat him better than Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny did.
What did you think of 2015's Fantastic Four movie? Sound off in the comments!