One thing that cannot be denied about today’s modern media is that superheroes have grown immensely popular. Marvel studios has put out more and more movies, especially following its time where it was given to Disney in 2009 not too long after the release of their first Marvel-Studios sanctioned movie of Iron man in 2008. Before that time, many of the Marvel movies such as the first Spiderman was owned by Sony and The Fantastic Four was owned by 20th Century Fox Studios. Recently, along with a few Spiderman reboot series that were produced in 2012 and 2014, another attempt was made to reboot The Fantastic Four in what might be the biggest movie flop of this generation.
The movie starts off easily enough, giving some back story to the characters of Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic, and Ben Grimm, also known as The Thing. The entire film is an origin story of how the Fantastic Four came to be, talking about how Reed wanted nothing more than to be the first person to invent teleportation. What he didn’t realize was, in his research, he ended up making teleportation to another dimension rather than to another location on earth. This caught the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm, a scientist researching inter-dimensional travel, and he asks Reed to become part of his program, making him part of the primary research team which includes his son Johnny Storm, also known as the Human Torch, and his adopted daughter Susan Storm, also known as Miss Invisible. After researching and finding a successful means of travel to another planet in another dimension, things go horribly awry after they attempt to send themselves there to make their mark before any government jerks get their hands on their success. From there, it goes downhill having their bodies gain their superpowers and are then trained to be used as weapons for the government while also preparing to find a way back to that other planet to use it for resources.
There were many changes made to the movie in comparison to the films that arose in 2005. One of the biggest differences was in the casting, making Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) black as well as his father (Reg E Cathy), while making Susan Storm (Kate Mara) their white, adopted daughter. When it was first known that Johnny was going to be black, there were mixed results in the aftermath. Some were outraged, saying that you can’t make a guy black when he’s supposed to be white. Others supported the decision, thinking it was good of Fox studios to attempt getting some more representation because the world needs more black superheroes. However, the movie was such a gigantic flop and when even the trailers didn’t look that interesting, most people were completely unaware of the decision and didn’t care.
The movie itself is terrible. The characters are as flat as possible, showing very little emotion throughout the film, with the exception of a scene where some of them were drunk. There is very little backstory on all of them, so their character introductions are horribly rushed. The effects of the movie were lovely to look at, however many feel that it would have been better to have the movie released in 3D and the director refused to do so. The director was Josh Trank, who directed other movies such as Chronicle. This pretty much summarizes his entire career as a director other than his work on Fantastic Four. All others he participated in he was mostly doing so as an editor, not as a writer or a director. And much of the blame for the 120 million dollar movie’s disastrous opening weekend, which only gave Fox 26 million dollars, is put on him.
According to different sources from the set, Trank was often withdrawn from others as he created the film, spending most of his time in his trailer instead of with others on set. And although Fox was reluctant to micro-manage their director as they didn’t wish to gain that kind of reputation, Trank was quick to micro-manage his actors down to the point where he would tell them when to blink and breathe during their scenes to keep their characters as flat as possible. He was not kind to his actors either, often getting into fights with them over the scene and being abusive to Kate Mara, who played Susan Storm despite his objections to her casting. Though it never escalated to fist fights with the actors, it did almost get to that point with Miles Teller, who fought with him very often due to his sarcastic nature and Trank’s rather withdrawn personality.
Now with 20th Century Fox out over 60 million dollars, it’s not likely that they will put trust in Trank, despite his success with his movie Chronicle that he directed for them in the past. Trank’s reputation as a director is unsightly, and the hopes of seeing more representation among future superhero cast members is not strong. Luckily, this movie was not made by the same studio that created the Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies. So perhaps Marvel fans can hope to see more black superheroes in the cast for any upcoming films.