Fantastic Four (styled as FANT4STIC) is a 2015 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. Directed by Josh Trank, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg, it stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell. The film follows a group of intelligent teenagers that build a transdimensional portal, causing them to gain superhuman abilities.
20th Century Fox announced plans to reboot the franchise, and development of the film began in 2009. Trank was hired to direct in July 2012 and the principal characters were cast in January 2014. Principal photography began in May 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and lasted for two months. Dissatisfied with the director’s original cut, Fox executives mandated reshoots, which took place in January 2015.
Fantastic Four premiered at Williamsburg Cinemas in New York City on August 4, 2015, and was released on August 7 in the United States. The film received negative reviews from critics, who called the film “woefully misguided” without the “humor, joy, or colorful thrills” found in the source material. It grossed $167.9 million worldwide against a production budget of $155 million, becoming a box-office bomb, losing over $80 million. At the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards, it won several awards, including Worst Director and Worst Picture. Trank also voiced his displeasure with the final film, blaming the studio’s interference.
A sequel was scheduled for a June 9, 2017 release, but was cancelled after the film’s failure. It was the last Fantastic Four film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, as the film rights to the team, along with that of the X-Men and Deadpool, reverted to Marvel Studios following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney in 2019. An MCU Fantastic Four reboot is scheduled for release on May 2, 2025.
In August 2009, 20th Century Fox announced that they would reboot the Fantastic Four film franchise. Akiva Goldsman was hired as producer, and Michael Green to write the screenplay. At the time, actors Adrien Brody and Jonathan Rhys Meyers were considered for the role of Mr. Fantastic, and Kiefer Sutherland the role of The Thing. In July 2012, Josh Trank was hired to direct, and Jeremy Slater as screenwriter. While Trank was being considered as director, X-Men: First Class writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller were assigned to work on the script. After Trank officially signed on, he decided to write his own script instead. Slater’s original script featured the villains Galactus and Dr. Doom with Doom depicted as a spy who becomes a herald of Galactus, and eventually the dictator of Latveria.
Trank and Slater’s ideas for the movie were tonally opposite, with Slater revealing that he viewed 2012’s The Avengers as a template, while Trank “just fucking hated every second of it.” Despite claiming to have been a fan of the Fantastic Four “when [he] was a kid”, Trank had only seen the 1994 cartoon series and had no interest in the superhero movie genre. He admitted that he found himself unable to identify with Slater’s more comic book-centric tone. Trank left Slater out of discussions with Fox Studios and withheld certain studio notes. Slater added “I never saw 95% of those notes,” and left after six months. In February 2013, Matthew Vaughn was attached to produce, and Seth Grahame-Smith hired to polish the script. In October 2013, Simon Kinberg was hired as co-writer and producer. In April 2014, the Cavalry FX was hired for the film’s pre-visualization.
According to Mark Millar, 20th Century Fox’s consultant for their Marvel Comics–based films, the film would take place in the same universe as the X-Men film series. Although Kinberg contradicted this statement, Bryan Singer confirmed talks of a potential crossover among Fox. Trank has said that the film is heavily influenced by David Cronenberg, that 1981’s Scanners and 1986’s The Fly influenced the look of the film, and that its overall tone would feel like a “cross between Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton”.
- Miles Teller as Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic:
Richards has been exploring the universe in his garage after school. He gains the ability to stretch his body into different forms and lengths. Teller said of the role, “When I read the script, I didn’t feel like I was reading this larger-than-life, incredible superhero tale. These are all very human people that end up having to become, I guess, what is known as the Fantastic Four. So for me it was just a really good story and gives me an opportunity to play something different from my own skin.” Owen Judge portrays Reed as a child while Fernando Rivera portrays Reed in disguise.
- Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm / Human Torch:
A troublemaker, thrill-seeker and the younger brother of Sue Storm, he has the ability to shoot fireballs and fly. Jordan said of the cast, “We’re more or less a bunch of kids that had an accident and we have disabilities now that we have to cope with, and try to find a life afterwards – try to be as normal as we can.” Jordan previously worked with Trank on 2012’s Chronicle, and according to Trank, Jordan’s character in Chronicle shares characteristics with Johnny Storm. Trank has described Storm as “smart, hilarious and charismatic.”
- Kate Mara as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman:
Brilliant, independent, and sarcastic, Storm has the ability to become invisible and generate force-fields. Mara has said that she intended to focus on making her character “as real as possible”. Trank has described Storm as “smart, dignified and integrity.”
- Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm / The Thing:
Warm, sensitive, a loyal and protective friend, Grimm’s stone body gives him super-strength and makes him “indestructible”. Trank said Grimm grew up an alienated child in a “tough” neighborhood. Trank also said that Bell has “qualities” of warmth and strength which people would want to see from Grimm. Bell has said that Grimm is the “heart of the group [Fantastic Four]”. In preparation for the motion-capture performance, Bell approached actor Andy Serkis for advice. During filming, he wore a tracking suit and stilts to match the height and eye-line of The Thing. Evan Hannemann portrays Grimm as a child.
- Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom / Dr. Doom:
A computer technician and computer scientist who is mentored by Dr. Franklin Storm. Doom finds a new father of sorts in Storm. Angry, vengeful, and bright, Doom was changed in the Negative Zone, as were the other characters. Kebbell said that he concentrated the most on the voice of the character, adding, “on the animated series, they never got his voice what I imagined it to be when I read the comics as a little boy. What I spent the majority of my time doing was not just being a fan, but being a bit of pedant and making sure I got exactly what I always wanted to see.” Kinberg said that Doom is as central to the film as the “titular” heroes. He added that Doom has “aspirations and struggles that are a little bit more classically tragic than the other characters” and that the film would show how he becomes a villain. Dr. Doom’s full name in this film was originally going to be “Victor Domashev”, but after backlash by fans, it was changed back to “Victor Von Doom” during reshoots, to match his name in the Marvel Comics universe.
- Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm:
The biological father of Johnny and adoptive father to Sue. Cathey described Franklin as a “brilliant scientist who has achieved much more than he thought he would” and that Franklin’s main drive in life is to help “brilliant” kids who may have been dropped through the cracks or who were misunderstood.
- Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Allen:
A scientist who works for the government and takes part in training the members of the team to hone their abilities. Nelson said that Allen is “responsible for what the creative people do that he has to rein them in and discipline them.”
August 6, 2015
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