I’m feeling very lonely right now. I feel like I’m the only person on the planet that actually liked the recent Fantastic Four reboot.
Even though Josh Trank who had the responsibility of Directing the film publicly trashed it a day before release and excessive media coverage of the bad reviews were monumental, I honestly don’t think it was that bad. It definitely wasn’t ‘Days Of Future Past’, but it was a cool flip on a not so cool comic that could have very easily been ‘Fantastic’.
Trank was never going to have an easy ride as the Fantastic 4, it was never a cool comic compared to the X-men or the Suicide Squad, it was just drab and dull. Even though it was one of the longest running titles, Marvel never really figured out how to revitalise the comic book. The series ended this year, and although the Future Foundation offshoot was a good idea, they never managed to pull it off and it ended the series after 16 issues.
The original Fantastic Four story revolves around Reed Richards; an uncool ageing middle aged scientist who is married to the hot blonde scientist Susan Richards, who is the sister of Johnny Storm, a high octane playboy ‘living that life’. Meanwhile Benjamin Grimm is the big and stupid knucklehead friend who is also unbelievably a scientist.
On a journey into space all 4 were exposed to cosmic rays that gave them ‘Fantastic’ powers. Trank’s reboot is a very different storyline which is the core problem, as well as the issues with the script, the rumoured on set arguments, and disagreements with the studio.
It was a brave decision to cast Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm
Trank previously directed the very brilliant ‘Chronicle’, a film about 4 kids that gain super powers after discovering a strange object. It was a low key sci-fi classic that flipped the traditional super hero story, so there were always high hopes for what he could achieve with the ‘Fantastic 4’ storyline.
In Trank’s ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot he ripped apart the traditional story and I’m not sure if the core fans were ready for it. In Trank’s reboot, the Fantastic Four are in their 20’s not middle aged. Franklin Storm is Johnny and Susan Storm’s father. Franklin and Johnny are black, while Susan is a nerdy adopted white girl from Kosovo……straight away people weren’t going to be happy with this. A nerdy white girl from Kosovo they could stomach, but a black family replacing a white family? Hell no! A black family adopting a white girl? GTFOH!
This was too much of a radical cultural shift for fans of the original comic and middle America who are still coming to terms with a black President running their Country.
It was a brave decision to cast Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm even though the initial backlash suggested otherwise and once again raised the ugly spectre of racism. Jordan later personally addressed the backlash in open letter via Entertainment Weekly.
Michael B. Jordan also appeared in ‘Chronicle’ and he was very good in both films, he is a very believable actor and his casting as Johnny Storm made sense. He complemented the original comic book character and he was a better fit than Chris Evan’s portrayal of Storm in the previous Fantastic Four films.
Trank’s Benjamin Grimm character was a massive improvement on the comic; he wasn’t the stereotypical New York knucklehead, he was a loyal, articulate emotional kid that followed Reed Richards into the abyss of uncertainty for the worse.
Trank flipped the entire storyline of the Fantastic Four and gave it a ‘Chronicle’ edge, thankfully it was a lot darker than the comic. His treatment of the Fantastic four discovering their new powers was shocking, almost alarming in parts, much more mature than the comic.
Dr Doom was perfect. Doom by name, Doom by nature, his method of killing people that stood in his way was much more brutal and horrific than in the comic or the previous films.
It’s not easy to adapt a comic book to a film. Director’s have to stay true to the culture of the original comic, the fans expectations, the studios expected financial returns, and then have the actual audacity to add their own twist to the franchise. It can be a thankless task, but the recent Disney/Marvel productions have set a standard as to what can be achieved with a great singular vision.
The recent Fantastic Four reboot was a brave attempt by Trank to revitalise a not so cool title. It started off good, developed well and was promising, but you feel the overwhelming wave of embarrassment as you witness the clash of direction towards the end of the film. The fact that the actors look nothing like the characters in the artwork kind off says it all, and the actual ending was just corny and terrible, it’s obvious that Trank had nothing to do with this.
Despite the clash of direction, the film wasn’t as bad as the bashing it received in the press, or the 3.9 rating on IMDB. It could have been brilliant if Trank had the same support as Joss Whedon has had with the Avengers franchise, the benefit of Kevin Feige’s attention to detail, or the autonomy that Christopher Nolan had with the excellent Dark Knight trilogy.
Despite the decimation at the box office, a Fantastic Four sequel is scheduled for June 2017. Given the recent rumours of Marvel trying to take back the rights to the Fantastic 4 title from Fox Pictures, this could mutate into a much later release date……but who cares, its all about that forth-coming Deadpool flick right?