Opening today, Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot coming only 8 years after the original has already met with disasterous reviews, fan ire, audience indifference and some of the worst PR for a major studio release in recent memory. And so the finger pointing begins.
Fantastic Four met with criticism soon after casting given the youth of its leads and the odd timing of the film, which apparently had less to do with an audience clamoring for a reboot than Fox needing to maintain the rights to the beloved Marvel comic. It’s no secret that Marvel would prefer all their characters to be part of one integrated universe (see also this reporter’s stories on the recent SpiderMan reboot), and the Fantastic Four characters, while not as popular as some of Marvel’s other heroes, are key to some other popular characters and elements in the Marvel canon, including Dr. Doom, The Silver Surfer, the alien god Galactus and aliens known as the Skrulls. Marvel covets use of these elements in their own film universe, which are off limit so long as Fox retains the cinematic rights.
Fox had also hinted at a possible crossover with the X-Men characters, implying their own integrated Marvel Universe. X-Men helmer Bryan Singer dropped hints that Marvel had contemplated a crossover should the new Fantastic Four prove a hit. Today producer Simon Kinberg says all plans for any kind of crossover are off given the dismal reception of the film.
More bizarre are tweets by Fantastic Four director Josh Trank which promptly disappeared from Twitter, though not before screen captures of the remarks surfaced. Trank tweeted: “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’s comments come after wild rumors of extensive reshoots and restructuring of the film, including reports that two rounds of reshoots were needed, with star Miles Teller particularly upset over the scheduling, which had him shooting several films at once. His schedule also demanded that the reshoots only take place one day of the week. Trank, for his part, has only added to the controversy with reports of erratic behavior, poor communication and cooperation with Fox and Kinberg, and nasty rumors that he had to be replaced by Matthew Vaughn as director for reshoots. The studio had also tipped Bryan Singer as their first choice to direct the sequel, not Trank.
Teller has sparked his own controversies after a profile in Esquire magazine portrayed the actor as “a dick,” and a proud one at that. In the piece, Teller speaks highly of his own talent and looks, trashes former friends and collaborators (including Whiplash director Damien Chazelle, the film which made Teller a star), and tells a waitress that his wine glass is modeled on his penis.
The lesson here: don’t hold your breath for a sequel.