Fantastic Four (2015 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Josh Trank|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$168 million|
Fantastic Four (stylized as FANT4STIC) is a 2015 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the third theatrical Fantastic Four film to be produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox and a reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise. Directed by Josh Trank, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg, the film stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell. In Fantastic Four, the team must learn to harness their superhuman abilities gained from an alternate universe to save Earth from a friend turned enemy.
Development of the film began in 2009 after Fox announced plans to reboot the franchise. 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 production, 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 was panned by critics upon its release, with criticism aimed at its screenplay, direction, lack of humor, gloomy tone, unfaithfulness to its source material, visual effects, choppy editing, lack of dynamic between the main characters, and pacing, though some praised the efforts of the cast; many considered the source material squandered. It was also a commercial failure, grossing $168 million worldwide against a production budget of $155 million and losing up to $100 million. At the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards, it won in the categories for Worst Director, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel and Worst Picture (the latter tied with Fifty Shades of Grey) and was also nominated for Worst Screen Combo and Worst Screenplay. It is the worst reviewed Marvel film to date.
This would be the last Fantastic Four film to be distributed by Fox until the film rights would revert back to Marvel Studios following the proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney.
Childhood friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm have worked together on a prototype teleporter since youth, eventually attracting the attention of Professor Franklin Storm, director of the Baxter Foundation, a government-sponsored research institute for young prodigies. Reed is recruited to join them and aid Storm's children, scientist Sue Storm and engineer Johnny Storm, into completing a "Quantum Gate" designed by Storm's protégé Victor von Doom.
The experiment is successful, and the facility's supervisor, Dr. Allen, plans to send a group from NASA to venture into a parallel dimension known as "Planet Zero". Disappointed at being denied the chance to join the expedition, Reed, Johnny and Victor along with Ben use the Quantum Gate to embark on an unsanctioned voyage to Planet Zero, which they learn is a world filled with otherworldly substances. Victor attempts to touch the green lava-like substance, causing the ground they are standing on to erupt. Reed, Johnny and Ben return to their shuttle just as Sue brings them back to Earth and Victor is seemingly killed after he falls into the collapsing landscape. The Quantum Gate explodes, altering Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben on a genetic level and granting them superhuman abilities beyond their control: Reed can stretch like rubber, Susan can become invisible and generate force fields, Johnny can engulf his entire body in fire and fly, and Ben develops a rock-like hide which gives him superhuman strength and durability. They are then placed in government custody in order to be studied and have their abilities tested. Blaming himself for the accident, Reed escapes from the facility and tries to find a cure for their changes.
One year later, Reed is now a fugitive and has built a suit that helps him control his ability. Hiding in Central America, he is eventually found by the United States military with Sue's help and captured by Ben, who has become a military asset along with Johnny and Sue. Johnny and Sue have been outfitted with specialized suits designed to help them control their abilities. Reed is brought to Area 57, where Dr. Allen conscripts him into rebuilding the Quantum Gate in exchange for giving Reed the resources to find a cure. Arriving in Planet Zero, Dr. Allen's explorers find Victor, who has been fused to his spacesuit and now possesses telekinetic abilities, and bring him back to Earth. Believing the human race needs to be destroyed so he can rebuild Earth in his image, Victor kills the scientists and soldiers in the base, including Dr. Allen and Professor Storm, and returns to Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate, with Ben, Johnny, Reed and Sue in pursuit.
Now dubbing himself "Doom", Victor activates a portal on Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate and begins consuming the landscape of the Earth using a structure he created from the rock formations in Planet Zero. He is confronted by the four and, after a short battle, Ben punches Doom into the portal's energy beam, disintegrating him while Johnny closes the portal. Returning to Earth, the group is rewarded by the US military for their heroics by being given a new base of operations known as "Central City" in order to study their abilities without government interference. They decide to use their powers to help people and adopt the mantle of the "Fantastic Four".
- Richards has been exploring the universe in his garage after school. After being transformed by one of his experiments, 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."
- A troublemaker, and thrill-seeker, he has the ability to mentally create and manipulate fire 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."
- Intelligent, independent and sarcastic, Storm has the ability to create and manipulate light. This allows her to create force-fields and turn herself invisible. Mara has said that she intended to focus on making her character "as real as possible". Trank has described Storm as "smart, dignified and [with] integrity."
- 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, Bell wore a tracking suit and stilts to match the height and eye-line of The Thing. Evan Hannemann portrays Grimm as a child.
- A computer technician and computer scientist who is mentored by Dr. Franklin Storm. Doom finds a new father of sorts in him. Angry, vengeful, and bright, Doom was changed in Planet Zero, as were the other characters but he is revealed to be deformed and merged with his space suit and then he decides to adopt his surname Doom as his alias. 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 it was changed back to "Victor von Doom" during reshoots, to match his name in the Marvel Comics universe. Kebbell also didn't participate in the re-shoots, meaning another actor played the character of Victor von Doom during the climactic battle.
- 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."
- 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.
Additionally, Dan Castellaneta portrays Mr. Kenny, Reed's teacher and Tim Heidecker appears as Mr. Richards, Reed's stepfather. Chet Hanks, son of actor Tom Hanks, has a minor appearance as Jimmy Grimm, Ben's older brother.
—Simon Kinberg on adapting the Fantastic Four comic books into film
In August 2009, 20th Century Fox announced that they would reboot the Fantastic Four film franchise. Akiva Goldsman was attached as producer and Michael Green was hired to write the screenplay. At the time, actors Adrien Brody and Jonathan Rhys Meyers were considered for the role of Mr. Fantastic, while Kiefer Sutherland was considered for role of The Thing. In July 2012, Josh Trank was hired to direct, and Jeremy Slater was hired as screenwriter. 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. In February 2013, Matthew Vaughn was attached as a producer and Seth Grahame-Smith was hired to polish the script. In October 2013, Simon Kinberg was hired to co-write and produce the film. The Calvary FX was hired in April 2014 for the pre-visualization of the film.
According to 20th Century Fox's consultant for their Marvel Comics-based films, Mark Millar, 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".
In January 2014, Kinberg finished rewriting the script, and casting for the roles of Reed Richards and Sue Storm began. Miles Teller, Kit Harington, Richard Madden, and Jack O'Connell were tested for the role of Reed, before Teller was cast. Meanwhile, Kate Mara, Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, and Emmy Rossum were tested for Sue. In February, it was revealed that Michael B. Jordan would play Johnny Storm / Human Torch, and Mara was cast as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman. In March, Toby Kebbell was cast as Victor von Doom, and Teller confirmed that Jamie Bell had been cast as Ben Grimm / The Thing. Sam Riley, Eddie Redmayne, and Domhnall Gleeson were considered for Doctor Doom. Mads Mikkelsen also auditioned for the role of Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic; initially reported as having walked out calling the audition process "mad" and "wrong", Mikkelsen later stated that the only thing he was asked to do during his audition was stretch his arms as long as he could make them. In April, Tim Blake Nelson entered final negotiations to play Harvey Elder. In May, Reg E. Cathey was cast as Sue's and Johnny's father, Dr. Storm.
The casting of a black actor, Michael B. Jordan, as the new Johnny Storm spawned controversy among some fans. Director Josh Trank justified his decision by saying the move to cast Jordan as Johnny Storm was taken to bring the iconic comic book team in line with real-world demographics.
Fantastic Four had a production budget of $155 million. Principal photography commenced on May 5, 2014, at the Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and ended on August 23, 2014, lasting for 72 days. Matthew Jensen served as director of photography. The film was planned to be shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but was moved to Louisiana due to the state's film production tax incentives. During filming, producers Hutch Parker and Simon Kinberg rewrote Trank's original script and gave the film a different ending. In January 2015, reshoots were ordered by 20th Century Fox executives who were not satisfied with the film, feeling that the movie felt more like a sequel to Trank's previous film, Chronicle.
Before the film's release, several sources had reported that there were multiple disagreements between 20th Century Fox and Trank during production. After being unsatisfied with Trank's original cut, Fox ordered their own changes to the film without Trank's supervision, changing and omitting certain major plot points from Trank's version. Many other sources claimed that there was "erratic behavior" from Trank on the set of the film, which resulted in Fox's negative treatment of Trank. Trank posted a message on Twitter one day prior to the film's release that criticized the finished film. Expressing heavy dissatisfaction towards the final product, he stated, "A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though." Trank deleted the message shortly after. While Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson claimed that Fox supported Trank's version of the film, Kebbell conversely stated, "I tell you, the honest truth is [Trank] did cut a great film that you’ll never see. That is a shame. A much darker version, and you’ll never see it." Trank further disowned the movie by removing it from his Instagram filmography. After Stan Lee's passing, he lamented that he "let him down", though after the film's release, he received a personal letter from him asking him to be okay.
The film used the Los Angeles-based company OTOY for the visual effects. Moving Picture Company, Pixomondo, Rodeo FX and Weta Digital also created visual effects for the film. Moving Pictures Company took on the visual effects for The Thing, rendering a fully digital character based on Jamie Bell's on-set performance and the Human Torch's fiery visual effects. Weta Digital handled Reed Richards' stretch effects. Pixomondo delivered Sue Storm's force-field and cloaking effects and augmented Doom's costume. James E. Price served as the over-all visual effects supervisor. Kinberg stated that the film would be converted to 3D in post-production, but those plans were canceled, with Trank stating that he wanted "the viewing experience of Fantastic Four to remain as pure as possible for the audience, which means in 2D". A sequence showing The Thing performing a "dive-bomb" in the film was cut due to budget constraints.
In January 2015, Marco Beltrami was hired to compose the film's score. Philip Glass was also hired to work on the score with Beltrami. Additionally, American hip-hop recording artist El-P scored the end credits of the film. To promote the film, Kim Nam-joon, known as RM of the Kpop group BTS, and American recording artist Mandy Ventrice, worked on the digital single "Fantastic", which was released alongside the South Korean run of the film. In July 2015, Beltrami attended the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International to discuss scoring the film. Beltrami described the score as "eerie" and "mysterious", landing it in a "musical territory leaning towards fantasy." The film score was released on August 14, 2015, by Sony Classical Records. In spite of the film's negative reception, the soundtrack still gained a positive response.
The teaser trailer for Fantastic Four was released in January 2015 to a generally positive response. Graeme McMillan of The Hollywood Reporter gave the trailer a positive review, calling it a "surprisingly strong step in the right direction for a faithful adaptation of an often-problematic property." Abraham Riesman of New York's Vulture also responded to the trailer positively, saying that the film "could be the most innovative and tonally unique marquee superhero movie." However, correspondents for Newsarama noted that there was "nothing" in the trailer to characterize it as being based on the Fantastic Four, feeling it could have easily been a substitute for similar science fiction films such as 2014's Interstellar. The trailer became the most-watched trailer in 20th Century Fox's history, surpassing the previous record-holder, 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The second trailer for the film was released in April 2015. Sean O'Connell of CinemaBlend called the trailer "amazing" and said that it "does a much better job of setting up everyone's roles." Drew McWeeny of HitFix said the film "looks like it was approached with serious intent" and that the scale "feels positively intimate." In the same month, the cast attended CinemaCon to present footage from the film, which also generated positive reviews.
The world premiere of Fantastic Four occurred at Williamsburg Cinemas in New York City on August 4, 2015. It was released in North America on August 7, 2015, on 3,995 screens. In December 2012, the film was scheduled for a March 6, 2015, release date, and was later changed again in November 2013 to June 19, 2015, before settling on its final date of August 7, 2015.
Fantastic Four grossed $56.1 million in North America and $111.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $167.9 million, against a production budget of $155 million (estimated $200 million including marketing and distribution costs), making it the lowest grossing Fantastic Four film to date.
In the United States and Canada, Fantastic Four was projected to take the top spot and earn around $40–50 million on its opening weekend, which would be lower than the opening weekend gross of 2005's Fantastic Four ($56.1 million) and 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($58.1 million). The film made $2.7 million from late night previews on the night of August 6. On its opening day, Fantastic Four earned $11.3 million (including Thursday's preview screenings), lower than early tracking, and $25.6 million on its opening weekend, marking one of the lowest openings of all time for a big-budget superhero movie which box office analysts have attributed to poor critical reviews and audience reception. It came in second place behind Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation ($28.5 million). When asked by The New York Times to comment on the weekend box office results, Chris Aronson, Fox's president of domestic distribution said: "There's not much to say. I have never seen a confluence of events impact the opening of a movie so swiftly," referring to negative reviews and a renegade tweet by Trank that blamed the studio for the poor reviews. In the film's second weekend, it grossed $8 million, dropping 69% from the opening weekend. Its low financial performance led to it being categorized as a box office bomb. It was dubbed the second biggest box office bomb of 2015, behind Tomorrowland, estimating the film's losses to be between $80–100 million.
Outside North America, the film grossed $33.1 million on its opening weekend from 43 countries from 8,996 screens, coming at second place behind Rogue Nation at the international box office. While it underperformed in certain countries, it opened at number one in 20 countries. Its top openings were in Mexico ($5.29 million), the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($4.19 million), France ($3.85 million), Venezuela ($3.81 million) and Brazil ($3 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 9% based on 228 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 3.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great." The film has a lower rating on Rotten Tomatoes than any other film based on a Marvel Comics property. The website Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 27 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". It received a "C–" rating from audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on a scale of A+ to F, which was referred to by Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter as "the worst grade that anyone can remember for a marquee superhero title made by a major Hollywood studio."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave Fantastic Four one star out of four, calling it "the cinematic equivalent of malware" and "worse than worthless." Jim Vejvoda of IGN criticized the film as "aesthetically drab and dramatically inert", said that the two previous Fantastic Four films "seem better in hindsight", and that the film did not show enough character development between the members of the team. He also criticized the blatant continuity errors, such as Mara's changing hair style and color and Teller's disappearing facial hair, brought on by the film's reshoots. Brian Lowry of Variety found the film to be a technical improvement over the 2005 release but criticized its uneven pacing and writing, saying "Ultimately, Fox's stab at reviving one of its inherited Marvel properties feels less like a blockbuster for this age of comics-oriented tentpoles than it does another also-ran—not an embarrassment, but an experiment that didn't gel." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter felt the film is "like a 100-minute trailer for a movie that never happens." He called the film "maddeningly lame and unimaginative" in addition to criticizing the visual style as a "dark, unattractive, gloomy mode." In a review for Screen Daily, Tim Grierson criticized the film's narrative as nonsensical, making the film "progressively more muddled and tedious."
David Jenkins of Little White Lies praised Fantastic Four for its stylistic deviation from other recent superhero films, and argued that the film's characters "make decisions which may appear to lack credibility, but the writing works hard to show you why these people are doing what they are doing – and it's not just haphazard patching work, but believable reasons which build on the themes of the movie". James Berardinelli gave the film two and a half stars out of four, opining that Fantastic Four is "no better or worse [than] the other superhero movies of 2015", welcoming the dark tone, and praising the performance of the main actors. However, he stated that as a superhero film, "it falls into the 'adequate' range of the spectrum—neither memorable nor forgettable."
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Hutch Parker, Robert Kulzer, Gregory Goodman||Won (tied with
Fifty Shades of Grey)
|Worst Screen Combo||All four "Fantastics" (Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell)||Nominated|
|Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel||Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Hutch Parker, Robert Kulzer, Gregory Goodman||Won|
|Worst Screenplay||Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Josh Trank||Won|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Nominated|||
As of February 2016, Fantastic Four had sold nearly 400,000 DVD copies and 350,000 Blu-Ray copies. As of December 2018, the film had grossed $13.4 million on home video.
Cancelled sequel and future
Before Fantastic Four began filming, 20th Century Fox announced plans for a sequel with a scheduled release date of July 14, 2017. Fox then rescheduled the release for June 2, 2017, with War for the Planet of the Apes taking its place on the July 14, 2017, slot. It changed the release date again to June 9, 2017, to be two weeks after Star Wars: The Last Jedi's initial scheduled release date of May 26, 2017.
Due to Fantastic Four's poor box office performance and negative reviews, Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter said that it "throws into question whether Fox will move ahead with a sequel". Phil Hoad of The Guardian said it would "be interesting" to see if Fox proceeds with a sequel and if it keeps the "gritty-on-paper" tone, noting that if Fox did not produce a sequel or a reboot until 2022, the film rights would revert to Marvel Studios. Despite the performance, it was reported in September 2015 that Fox still planned to produce a sequel, with Simon Kinberg working on the project. Drew McWeeny of HitFix said that while a sequel may not be produced in time for the 2017 release date, Fox would likely attempt to salvage the franchise, working with Trank's defined vision and adding adjustments to it. While Kinberg affirmed his intent to make a sequel, Kate Mara said that a sequel looked unlikely, despite expressing interest in reprising her role as Sue Storm. In September 2015, Tommy Wiseau expressed enthusiasm in directing a sequel, having personal admiration for the film.
In November 2015, the sequel was removed from Fox's release schedule. In May 2016, Kinberg reaffirmed his intent to make another Fantastic Four film with the same cast. Later that month, Toby Kebbell stated he had no interest in reprising his role as Dr. Doom if a sequel were to happen. Both Miles Teller and Kate Mara said that they were open to returning for a sequel. On February 24, 2017, when asked by Collider whether they would make another Fantastic Four film, Kinberg stated "I have no idea. I think the truth is we would not do another Fantastic Four movie until it was ready to be made. One of the lessons we learned on that movie is we want to make sure to get it 100% right, because we will not get another chance with the fans".
Toby Kebbell stated he would only be interested in returning to the role of Doctor Doom if he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kebbell added "Truth is, Doom is an incredible bad guy. They just keep trying to force him into the Fantastic Four...Doom is a monster, but you know my Doom was not, so there's that". Stan Lee (co-creator of the Fantastic Four) also expressed interest in the Fantastic Four, as well as the X-Men, returning to Marvel Studios stating, "We should have all of our characters under Marvel. Remind me on my way home to do something about that. We'll do our best." However, Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige stated in June 2017 that there were no plans of adding the Fantastic Four to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at that time.
Matthew Vaughn has expressed interest in directing a new version of Fantastic Four himself as an apology saying, "One of my favorites is the Fantastic Four, so maybe one day I'll try and rectify the mistake." Concept artist Alexander Lozano revealed that Trank's iteration of the Fantastic Four were considered for cameo appearances in Tim Miller's take on Deadpool 2.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire 21st Century Fox, including its subsidiary 20th Century Fox. Disney's CEO Bob Iger stated that they plan to integrate the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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