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Fantastic Four in film

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The fictional superhero team Fantastic Four featured in Marvel Comics publication has appeared in four live-action films since its inception. The plots deal with four main characters, known formally as Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, and how they adapt to the superpowers they attain.

Constantin Film bought the film rights for the characters in 1986. A low-budget film was produced in 1992 by New Horizon Studios owned by Roger Corman. In 2004, after Constantin sub-licensed the film rights to 20th Century Fox, a second Fantastic Four film entered production. Fantastic Four was released in 2005 and the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was released in 2007. Both films received mixed to negative reviews from critics, yet earned a combined US$619 million worldwide at the box office. Due to 20th Century Fox's disappointment with the box-office return of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, a potential third Fantastic Four film and a Silver Surfer spin-off film were canceled.

In 2009, the development for a reboot was announced. Directed by Josh Trank, Fantastic Four was released on August 7, 2015 and received negative reviews from both critics and public, and Trank himself. A sequel to the reboot was scheduled to be released on June 9, 2017, but it was removed from Fox's upcoming slate.

In March 2019, Marvel Studios regained the film rights to Fantastic Four after Disney bought most of 21st Century Fox's film and TV assets, including franchises.

Films[edit]

The Fantastic Four (unreleased)[edit]

The story of the film focused on four astronauts that were bombarded with cosmic rays from a comet while on an experimental space craft. In the process, they acquired extraordinary abilities.

In 1986, Bernd Eichinger of Constantin Film acquired the film rights of the Fantastic Four from Marvel Comics.[1] In 1992, Eichinger hired Roger Corman to produce a low-budget film in order to keep the rights. In 1994, the adaptation, titled The Fantastic Four, had its trailer released to theaters, and its cast and director went on a promotional tour; however the film was not officially released. The film was accused of being an ashcan copy, meaning it was only made to keep the license.[2] Stan Lee and Eichinger stated that the actors had no idea of the situation, instead believing they were creating a proper release.[3] Marvel Comics paid in exchange for the film's negative, so 20th Century Fox could go ahead with the big-budget adaptation. While the film was never released to theaters and home-video, it was released by bootleg video distributors.[4]

Tim Story films[edit]

Fantastic Four
FantasticFourFilmSeriesDVD.jpg
Cover of Fantastic Four - 2-Movie Collection, the 2007 DVD box set of the first two films
Directed byTim Story
Produced by
Based on
StarringSee below
Music byJohn Ottman
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox (2005-2019)
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2019-present)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$230 million
Box office$619,627,482

Fantastic Four (2005)[edit]

The story features Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Victor von Doom getting hit by a space storm after boarding a space station. As a result of the radiation from the storm, they gain new abilities and powers that they have deal with in their own ways.

Chris Columbus was hired by 20th Century Fox to write and direct the film in 1995. In 1997, Peter Segal was attached to a script which had been written by Columbus and Michael France. Segal later left the project in the same year. Phillip Morton worked on the script, and Sam Hamm did rewrites in 1998. The following year, Raja Gosnell signed on as director.[5] The film was announced in August 2000 as being aimed for a July 4, 2001 release date. Gosnell decided to leave the project to film Scooby-Doo. Peyton Reed served as replacement in April 2001.[5] Reed contemplated making the film as a period piece set in the early 1960s during the space race.[1] He later dropped out from the film. In April 2004, Tim Story was hired to direct and principal photography began in August in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with re-shoots carried on until May 2005.[6][7] Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon, the film was released on July 8, 2005.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)[edit]

The story, both inspired by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four comic-book storyline "The Galactus Trilogy" and Warren Ellis's comic-book Ultimate Extinction, features the Silver Surfer, whose cosmic energy has been affecting the planet Earth and leaving craters around the planet. Set against an impending wedding between Reed and Susan, the U.S. Army recruits the Fantastic Four to help stop the Silver Surfer, and separately gain help from Doom.[8]

With Fantastic Four grossing $330.5 million worldwide, 20th Century Fox hired director Tim Story and screenwriter Mark Frost in December 2005 to return to work for the sequel.[9] Don Payne was also hired to write the screenplay.[10] Principal photography began on August 28, 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[11] The film was released on June 15, 2007.

Due to 20th Century Fox's disappointment in the box-office performance of the film, a potential third Fantastic Four film and a Silver Surfer spin-off film were cancelled.[12]

Fantastic Four (2015)[edit]

The story, loosely based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic-books, features four people teleporting to an alternate universe, which alters their physical form and grants them new abilities. They must learn to harness their abilities and work together as a team to save the Earth from a familiar enemy.[13]

In August 2009, the development for the reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise was announced by 20th Century Fox.[14] In July 2012, Josh Trank was hired to direct.[15] Michael Green, Jeremy Slater, Seth Grahame-Smith and Simon Kinberg were hired to write the screenplay with Slater and Kinberg receiving credit.[16][17][18] Casting began in January 2014 with the announcement of the cast occurred in the following months.[19][20][21][22] Principal photography began in May 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and ended in August the same year.[23][24] Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell, the film was released on August 7, 2015.[25] A sequel was originally planned for 2017, but was removed from the studio's schedule in November 2015.[26]

Future[edit]

Doctor Doom[edit]

At San Diego Comic-Con International 2017, Noah Hawley said that he was developing a film centered on Doctor Doom.[27] Dan Stevens was also said to be involved with the film.[28] In June 2018, Hawley stated that the script was almost finished, but that there was "a little uncertainty" about whether it would be filmed due to his upcoming film Pale Blue Dot and the fact that Disney plans to acquire Fox.[29] In March 2019, Hawley revealed that he was still unsure about whether he would be continuing the project, as it had not been officially greenlit, but that he spoke to Kevin Feige about it.[30] In August 2019, Hawley told Deadline that the movie "is done," implying that it was completed and awaiting review from Marvel Studios.[31]

Silver Surfer[edit]

As of February 2018, a Silver Surfer film was in development with Brian K. Vaughan attached to the script.[32] In September 2019, The GWW reported that Marvel Studios are now developing the solo movie.[33]

Marvel Cinematic Universe[edit]

On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company agreed to a $52.4 billion deal 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 (MCU), alongside the X-Men and Deadpool.[34] On March 20, 2019, the now $71.3 billion deal was officially completed.[35] At the 2019 Marvel Studios San Diego Comic Con Hall H presentation in July, studio head Kevin Feige announced that a Fantastic Four film, which will be set in the MCU, is in development.[36][37]

Recurring cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • This section shows characters which have appeared in more than one film.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
Character Film
The Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
(2005)
Fantastic Four:
Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four
(2015)
Reed Richards
Mr. Fantastic
Alex Hyde-White Ioan Gruffudd Miles Teller
Owen Judge (young)
Sue Storm
Invisible Woman
Rebecca Staab
Mercedes McNab (young)
Jessica Alba Kate Mara
Johnny Storm
Human Torch
Jay Underwood
Phillip Van Dyke (young)
Chris Evans Michael B. Jordan
Ben Grimm
The Thing
Michael Bailey Smith
(Ben Grimm)
Carl Ciarfalio (Thing)
Michael Chiklis Jamie Bell
Evan Hannemann (young)
Victor von Doom
Doctor Doom
Joseph Culp Julian McMahon Toby Kebbell
Alicia Masters Kat Green Kerry Washington

Crew[edit]

Occupation Film
The Fantastic Four Fantastic Four
(2005)
Fantastic Four:
Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four
(2015)
Director Oley Sassone Tim Story Josh Trank
Producer(s) Steven Rabiner Bernd Eichinger
Avi Arad
Ralph Winter
Simon Kinberg
Matthew Vaughn
Hutch Parker
Robert Kulzer
Gregory Goodman
Executive producer(s) Roger Corman
Bernd Eichinger
Glenn Garland
Jan Kikumoto
Stan Lee
Kevin Feige
Chris Columbus
Mark Radcliffe
Michael Barnathan
Stan Lee
Writer(s) Craig J. Nevius
Kevin Rock
Michael France
Mark Frost
Screenplay by
Don Payne
Mark Frost
Story by
John Turman
Mark Frost
Jeremy Slater
Simon Kinberg
Josh Trank
Composer(s) David Wurst
Eric Wurst
John Ottman Marco Beltrami
Philip Glass
Director of photography Mark Parry Oliver Wood Larry Blanford Matthew Jensen
Editor(s) Glenn Garland William Hoy William Hoy
Peter S. Elliot
Elliot Greenberg
Stephen E. Rivkiv

Home media release[edit]

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four (2015) on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.[38] The films were also released on DVD and Blu-ray box sets:

Title Format Release date Films Reference
Fantastic Four 2-Movie Collection DVD October 2, 2007 Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer [39]
The Ultimate Heroes Collection October 16, 2007 Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic Four (2005), X-Men [40]
Marvel Heroes May 13, 2008 Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand [41]
Blu-ray 3-Pack Blu-ray November 18, 2008 Daredevil, Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer [42]
20th Century Fox Triple Feature DVD June 1, 2010 Daredevil, Fantastic Four (2005), X-Men [43]
October 5, 2010 Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic Four (2005) [44]
20th Century Fox Double Feature Fantastic Four (2005), X-Men [45]
Fantastic Four / Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Blu-ray May 15, 2012 Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer [46]
Fantastic Four Double Feature Blu-ray/Digital HD, DVD March 8, 2016 [47][48]

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film U.S. release date Box office gross All time ranking Production budget Ref.
North America Other territories Worldwide North America Worldwide
Fantastic Four (2005) July 8, 2005 $154,696,080 $175,883,639 $330,579,719 305 348 $100 million [49]
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer June 15, 2007 $131,921,738 $157,126,025 $289,047,763 410 425 $130 million [50]
Fantastic Four (2015) August 7, 2015 $56,117,548 $111,860,048 $167,977,596 1,392 $120 million [51]
Totals $342,735,366 $444,869,712 $787,605,078 $350 million [52]

The Fantastic Four film series is the fourth highest-grossing film series based on Marvel Comics characters after the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Spider-Man films and the X-Men film series respectively grossing over $342 million in North America and over $787 million worldwide.[53]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The Fantastic Four 33% (9 reviews)[54] N/A N/A
Fantastic Four (2005) 27% (211 reviews)[55] 40 (35 reviews)[56] B[57]
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 37% (169 reviews)[58] 45 (33 reviews)[59] B[57]
Fantastic Four (2015) 9% (252 reviews)[60] 27 (40 reviews)[61] C-[57]

None of the Fantastic Four films have been positively received by critics.[62] Scott Weinberg of eFilmCritic called the 1994 film "[a] painfully silly film, one with more heroic intentions than actual assets."[63]

Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald gave negative reviews to the Fantastic Four films directed by Tim Story. Regarding Rise of the Silver Surfer, he stated, "Story does the same sort of efficient, impersonal job he did on the first film, keeping things at such a basic, almost childish level that it seems the movie is aimed squarely, if not exclusively, at the 12-and-under set."[64] However, Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel gave Story's Fantastic Four films good reviews. He called the first film as a "popcorn popper" and a "cinematic sugar buzz" and the second film an "entertaining film that doesn't overstay its welcome."[65][66]

The 2015 Fantastic Four film was the weakest reviewed of the series; it was criticised for its dark, humorless tone, its character arcs, designs (especially that of Dr. Doom), bland acting, and poorly written story. Director Josh Trank was himself not satisfied, posting a message on Twitter stating he had envisioned a better version of the film, but it was ruined by Fox; he later deleted the message.[67]

References[edit]

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