Ah to see the “schoolyard mentality” carry over into even the most lucrative of business’……the film industry. For those of you haven’t been living on the other side of Mars ( and if the subjects of this dissertation would have displayed 1 /10th of such a “cosmic” mindset…well… ) know I am referring to the release and box-office failure of 20 Century Fox’s recent reboot of the film adaptation of Marvel Comic’s First Family……The Fantastic Four. Ironically, tho’, this essay will lay the blame not just on the usual villains of box-office poison the” Studio Execs” but the “Film-maker” ( the usual sacred calf ) as well.
DIRECTOR JOSH TRANK
Hey Josh, I was one of the many who were impressed with what you had accomplished with so little with your first foray on the screen, 2012’s “found-footage” superhero story Chronicle. You were given a budget of $20,000,000 to finance your vision of the film and you delivered a box office draw of $126,000,000.
Job well done…however…
You accepted your next job as director for 20 Century Fox’s reboot of Marvel Comic’s The Fantastic Four. And herein lies your failure. In interviews, you stated that you wanted to make a Fantastic Four movie with a more “hard science fiction” take, as if David Cronenberg himself directed the film. Anyone who has read a Fantastic Four comic book knows that this dark vision is couldn’t be further from the source material. And that source material has a well-known narrative and a well-earned place among the pantheon of pop culture’s landscape. You failed to recognize the comic property, it’s history, and ( worse ) it’s already built-in audience by giving them a foreign and alienating take on these characters that rings false. Even when held up against 20 Century Fox’s 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, both directed by Tim Story.
Also, this was your second film financed by 20th Century Fox studios. In my opinion, your tweets regarding what you feel were Fox’s interference with this project smacks of “biting the hand that feeds you” something that makes me lose respect for you as a “team player”. Then you added to the abysmal box-office take with now “public” tales of deleted scenes and an alternative director’s cut you had filmed but were “prevented” from releasing. Unfortunately for you, Josh, I see through the whitewash. First, if you had any backbone you would have fought for YOUR version of the film. And second, you never had a handle on this property nor the characters to begin with. Take responsibility for some of the blame.
20th CENTURY FOX
Ladies and gentleman of this failed reboot’s pitch meeting. Three words: Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or as it has become known in the industry the “MCU”. Now you get a pass, from me at least Fox, for the two previous versions of the FF as well as the X-Men film franchise. The MCU officially started with the theatrical release of Iron Man in back in 2008, one year after the last FF movie. When it comes to the 2015 reboot, however, you have no such out with me. Since then, the MCU has provided those studios who participate with a practical template to maximize box-office take by cross-pollinating different Marvel comic characters and properties. They accomplish this by sharing co-producing credit with the film studio arm of Marvel Productions themselves. By utilizing top-notch consultants such as Marvel’s past Chief Creative Officer Jose Quesada as well as Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige, these studios have found this “esprit d’corps” formula actually works. In short, the film studios know enough to keep the “Marvel” in these films.
And it’s not because you chose to adapt the “Ultimate” Fantastic Four instead of their classic iterations. I found that the character’s cosmic ray origins were dated and I totally bought their new origins by being exposed to a foreign dimension ( as well as the characters being teenagers in a government think tank. Foolishly tho’, Fox, you allowed yourself to miss ( and forgive the pun ) a “Marvel-ous” opportunity to dovetail the groundwork Marvel Studios has laid with the cinematic “dimensional” playing field and used the underlining thread of the SHIELD narrative structure.
Unfortunately, Fox, you insist on having your own separate “fiefdom”. Well your days of living on a desert island of your own ego and ignorance are over. Owing to your beating at the box-office, you will have no choice but to start taking Marvel’s phone calls. And, it’s not like you didn’t see this coming. Why do I get the feeling that someone should have grabbed the kid in the mail room and thrown him into the middle of this reboot’s pitch meeting? Plus the first teaser for this movie was released in the theaters back in January. The first full trailer, in April. Are you going to tell me that nobody from Fox trolled the message boards of various comic news sites to get feedback on these trailers? If Josh Trank hadn’t tried to throw you under the bus this week, I would’ve guessed you had tried to jump under it yourselves…