In the midst of big 2015 films like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Terminator Genysis, Jurassic Park 4 and Star Wars Episode VII, we're also getting a reboot of the Fantastic Four movie franchise - though you won't likely find it on most people's "Most Anticipated" list for the year.
First of all: there's been criminally little marketing or promotional material for the movie - a big missed opportunity, as far as we're concerned. Secondly, the casting has been way off target from what most fans expected; actors Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment), Kate Mara (House of Cards), Miles B. Jordan (Chronicle) and Jamie Bell (Jumper) are playing the principal four roles of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm - while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes actor Toby Kebbell will play the villain Doctor Doom, and Incredible Hulk star Tim Blake Nelson is playing Harvey Elder, a.k.a. Mole Man. Third, what vague story hints we've gotten have pointed to a revamped origin story (leaning more toward the Ultimate continuity) that may or may not draw from the comic books. All in all, The Fantastic Four is not getting a lot of love.
Chronicle director Josh Trank (and subsequently 21st Century Fox) is currently banking hard on the fact that completed footage will draw people into seeing this film - because there is near-zero hype working for them, thus far. Nonetheless, the cast of the film has had to do the usual cheerleading for their movie - which has sometimes been more to its detriment than its benefit.
The latest is "Mr. Fantastic" himself, actor Miles Teller, who is following up a breakout 2013 (The Spectacular Now, 21 & Over) with another year of both mainstream success (Divergent) and indie acclaim (the upcoming film, Whiplash). When tapped to talk about what The Fantastic Four will offer viewers that the 2005 film did not, here's what Teller had to sell:
It’s different in every way. All those actors were a lot older, their characters were in different places. The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.
We won't be the ones to hang Teller out to dry; suffice to say we still know of plenty of circles where people still love those kitschy Dick Tracy-style comic book movies. (We're not really part of such circles, but they are out there.) Almost every fan can agree, though: comic book movies don't necessarily need one general tone or flavor.
While it makes sense for a Batman movie to be "dark and gritty" it makes almost as much sense to make a Spider-Man movie irreverent and slightly campy; such is the nature of each respective character. So "realistic" or "serious" are buzzwords that will likely fill longtime Fantastic Four fans (the small circle that they are) with a bit of understandable trepidation.
But before we all get too worked up: it seems that Teller himself is aware of the variety that is needed in the superhero movie genre:
At the end of the day, it depends on the product. Guardians of the Galaxy was a really fresh take on it, I think people responded to that. In terms of where we are in the schedule, we’re playing the same weekend they were playing. But it’s a big summer: You’ve got Avengers, and my buddy [Whiplash co-star J.K. Simmons] is in Terminator, and you got Jurassic World. There’s a ton of movies out there, so if people have an appetite for it, they’ll see a couple, and if not, maybe they’ll just see one.
The question Teller so coyly avoids is: Will anyone want to see Fantastic Four?
As we've pointed out MANY times: Fantastic Four has been one of the lowest selling of the Top 100 comic books for years. It's not that popular with the masses. With little to no knowledge of what Josh Trank has planned (other than some obvious changes), this film has suddenly become one of the bigger gambles in what is, by now, a pretty safe-bet movie genre. Teller has to do his job - but even he (and his castmates') statements to press lack the confidence and enthusiasm of actors who know - for certain - they have a hit film on their hands.
Maybe when post-production work is further along?
In the meantime, The Fantastic Four's August 7, 2015 steadily approaches.
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