have to be honest, I saw this mess coming.
if you follow the story about the 2015 release of Fantastic
Four and director Josh Trank, you know about some of the
hysterical stuff that has hit this project. Heck, you really only
need to know one story -- do a search and check out Trank’s comments
just before the film was released, where you could basically say
he was apologizing because the film heading to theaters wasn’t
the one he wanted to make -- to see how hampered and comical the
production just may have been. But it was something else for me.
was a story about the sequel that was making the internet rounds
a week or so before the film was released. It seems that as the
cast were making their appearances and doing their interviews
for pre-release publicity, the subject of the second film from
this attempted run was being raised. And go figure, the name of
the Silver Surfer came up as an answer. And the first thought
that hit me was close to this: “Silver Surfer? Wow. So instead
of blazing their own trail they basically plan to do exactly what
a majority of people say didn’t work ten years ago.”
have to understand a few things in order to truly follow this.
The Fantastic Four as a group of superheroes does not exactly
face the most incredible or recognizable roster of villains. They
have faced a lot of villains. It’s just that many of them aren’t
that memorable, and several are known more for their involvement
with other heroes. And yet, as their most impressive challenger,
they do have one of the greatest villains of all time… Doctor
Doom. And that can be a wonderful advantage or a terrible curse…
it all depends in how you approach it.
and Lex Luthor are similar subjects for Batman and Superman… tremendous
characters, and yet any time someone mentions any type of project
at all involving The Dark Knight or Man of Steel, pretty much
without exception the questions begin about what role these specific
foes could have.
a blessing to have such an amazingly recognizable character to
build around. Use it properly and it can be amazing. Ah… but do
Von Doom has basically been the lead challenger in each of the
efforts to bring this team of good guys to cinemas. Could have
been Roger Corman’s unreleased film, the two efforts from a decade
ago, or this year’s release… Doom… Doom… Doom. And again, it makes
sense. He’s a dominating, great villain. But none of the four
theatrical projects has really been accepted as capturing a great
portrayal of him.
then… there it is… the next effort could go to the Silver Surfer.
Which… with all sorts of rumors about Josh Trank and troubled
production swirling around… just seemed like the wrong answer,
whether it’s a bunch of hogwash and speculation or an opinion
based in some really possible thoughts. It struck me that instead
of blazing a new, daring, unique trail for this cast and this
run, it sure seemed like they were planning to take the easy route
that had been attempted previously. (And, not attempted with amazing
here are three suggestions from me for working on a Fantastic
Four project, trying something new, and getting it right…
Number One -- A truly developed trilogy
Doctor Doom is a necessary part of any complete story. He has
to be involved. You could argue he needs to be in any Fantastic
Four movie. But does he need to be part of the first movie? I
mean… a big part?
could tell an origin story with the first film that introduces
Doctor Doom, but relies on solid villain options such as Puppet
Master, Mole Man, or possibly even stretch a bit to Namor.
on, Diablo is a tremendous option as a villain for Fantastic Four
films, given the “cure for Ben Grimm” aspects involved. If the
first film successfully establishes the franchise, a Diablo story
could bring in terrific depth and character development. (Side
note -- Want a great modernization of classic comic books? Diablo
running a pharmaceutical company. Lots of room in that one.)
open with origins and Mole Man, fight Doctor Doom, and wrap up
with Diablo… not a bad run. The point is, even if you use different
stories and villains, commit to the complete arc and expand beyond
repeated approach of opening of the first film and adjusting future
plans based on response has been a disaster. You can’t hedge your
bets here. If you want a franchise, then build a world and develop
it. Get the story right… don’t just jump in, decide Fantastic
Four and Doctor Doom, and then take some time off because that
combination seems like an easy winner just from naming it and
a vacation is in order. Learn from history.
Number Two -- Attempt the unexpected, but very possible
crossovers. (And yes, I have heard that 20th Century Fox is getting
giddy about possibly combining the Fantastic Four with their other
Marvel property, the X-Men.)
link I am most familiar with when it comes to Marvel characters
involves Spider-Man teaming up with the Fantastic Four. Doctor
Doom and Doctor Octopus are two big ones that involve characters
if not story lines… Electro, Sandman and Hydro-Man are others.
Fantastic Four has worked with several of Marvel’s biggest names,
either in teams or with elements moving from one group to another.
If Doctor Doom is the central element of an opening film… and
sure, I could see approaching any Fantastic Four effort with that
in place one more time as a starting point since Doom is so intertwined
in significant moments of their history… then one of the best
second steps could be expanding the excitement. Imagine bringing
in X-Men and Magneto around for a second film, and then finishing
off a three-picture run with combined heroes facing off against
Galactus. Not too shabby.
even I went Silver Surfer and ultimately Galactus. I get the appeal.
But heck… you have room here for Kree and Skrull and Avengers
to become involved. What you need in order to make it happen is
the right story and then agreements with the right property ownership
groups. Look… I admit, it would be stretching the comic book canon…
could you ever imagine if 20th Century Fox reached out to Marvel/Disney
and could get the Fantastic Four a cameo in the Infinity War
point here is simple, for this option you would need to reach
out to other studios… other companies holding rights to heroes
and villains and foundations of stories. But it is possible. It’s
being done with Spider-Man right now. And a solid association
with other projects could add tremendous depth and strength to
Number Three -- Break up the band
don’t love this thought, but I do find it intriguing. How about
The Thing or Human Torch getting a film?
all… we love us some Iron Man, in solo films and Avengers efforts.
Until Iron Man was released, the character was not a top tier
superhero. It was a combination of a great first story, great
actor in the part, and a really strong job from the director.
A Johnny Storm movie could be an interesting project… could involve
his sister (for plenty of reasons)… and maybe some details about
the other members of the team that could lead to a bigger film.
trick to all of this is pretty basic… the obvious and simple is
not being received all that well. That doesn’t mean the property
is a dud. Fantastic Four efforts will be met with excitement when
announced, but people are passionate about the characters… and
that needs to be met with a passionate set of director, cast,
date though, it often seems like all of the Fantastic Four movies
have been made with the same approach as the one that began the
Roger Corman effort… maintaining the rights first, and not necessarily
doing the property justice. At times, it sure seems that even
when the group working on it has good intentions, the people controlling
the funding, production, and ultimate releases aren’t exactly
onboard with delivering something brilliant. (And do not make
a mistake in understanding… whether everyone is onboard and working
together or not… there is no intention to lose the rights to the
have seen plenty of examples that show there are people that can
take these comic books and create something brilliant. Trouble
is… there is so much riding on these titles, including just maintaining
the rights to the characters and the stories… that a ton of hands
and interests will be involved in any production. That means different
visions, different priorities, and, unfortunately, tension and
in no position to make a movie with the Fantastic Four. I don’t
have a script, don’t have the character rights, and don’t have
the money. I can suggest better designed movie runs, more interaction
with the Marvel universe, or individual character development
as possible improvements all I want… doesn’t mean it’s going to
don’t believe anyone wants to make a bad movie. I don’t think
anyone wants something that does poorly at the box office or gets
hammered by critics and fan reviews. I can tell you that as long
as every attempt keeps beating the same drums though, with the
same underlying pandemonium, we are going to be continuously treated
to the same results. And that’s anything but fantastic.