MCU"s Fantastic Four Movie Could Be The First To Break A Marvel Production Curse

  • The previous Fantastic Four movies had faced a range of complications the MCU reboot needs to avoid.
  • Issues arose with previous Fantastic Four installments, both in terms of production and behind-the-scenes conflict.
  • The MCU Fantastic Four movie can hopefully learn lessons from its predecessors.
Marvel’s first family has had a dysfunctional history on the big screen - a reality that the MCUFantastic Four reboot can hopefully alter. It was in 1994 when Reed Richards and company were ready to make their cinematic debut, only for the movie to remain unreleased. Marvel Comics fans finally got a Fantastic Four movie in 2005, which, despite polarizing reactions, spawned the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer. Hopes for an even better Fantastic Four adaptation came crashing down with Josh Trank’s disastrous 2015 reboot. Now with Disney owning Fox, Marvel’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot can flip the script.
Each big screen take on the Marvel team has shared a few common elements, from some jarring deviations from the source material to negative reviews from critics. Another aspect that all these movies have shared is a whirlwind of production tussles. Even though the 2000s Fantastic Four movies nailed a few things, the superteam in live-action has been riddled with behind-the-scenes drama. As acclaimed contemporary stars like Pedro Pascal and Vanessa Kirby lead the 1960s-inspired reboot in the MCU timeline, expectations are high, and Marvel fans can only hope that the fourth time’s the charm to avoid any more controversies.
Related Why Galactus Is Better As Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four Villain Instead Of Doctor Doom Doctor Doom is one of the best Marvel villains; however, Galactus would be a better choice for Marvel Studios' Fantastic Four film for a few reasons. The Unreleased Fantastic Four Movie Was Never Meant To Be Released The 1994 Production Even Witnessed A Botched World Premiere Close The unofficial Marvel movies of the 1990s are subject to meme-worthy ridicule, with The Fantastic Four being a prime example. Executive produced by low-budget cinema icon Roger Corman, this infamous 1994 production was made only for German producer Bernd Eichinger to retain film rights over the characters. The production hell that went behind The Fantastic Four was as stretched out as Mister Fantastic’s skin, with Eichinger taking over three years to secure the rights from Marvel supremo Stan Lee. A 2005 article from Los Angeles magazine titled “Fantastic Faux” offered more insights into what exactly went wrong with this unlucky project.
More context on the production drama behind the unreleased 1994 movie was offered by the 2015 documentary Doomed!: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four.
Put simply, the budgetary issues the movie faced stalled production and affected the visuals of the 1994 Fantastic Four movie. But with Eichinger reportedly determined to retain the rights to his dream project, shooting continued, with The Thing donning an infamous rubber costume, a trailer being screened alongside Corman’s theatrical releases, and Eichinger making appearances in comicbook shops. Even a 1994 world premiere was announced in a Mall of America, only to be drastically halted. The screening never saw the light of day, and the actors were stamped with a cease-and-desist order for any future promotion.
While Lee was adamant that the film was never greenlit, Corman admitted that he had a contract but was later bought out of it. Then-Marvel Entertainment head Avi Arad’s statements from 2002 shed more light on the controversy. The top Marvel executive was concerned with how a low-budget production could cheapen the public perception of Fantastic Four. The fears prompted him to buy the film “for a couple of millions of dollars” and order all prints to be destroyed. Pirated copies still made their way on YouTube and Dailymotion uploads, ensuring The Fantastic Four's flawed but uniquely absurd legacy survives.
Jessica Alba And Doug Jones Didn't Enjoy Working On Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer The Actress Recounted On Being Asked To "Cry Pretty" Close With the turn of the decade, Avi Arad and Bernd Eichenger came on the same page as they turned producers for Fox’s Fantastic Four. Its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, however, made Jessica Alba nearly quit acting. The actress recounted an unpleasant filming experience concerning the scene where her character Susan Storm (Invisible Woman) almost died. Finding her teary-eyed act to be “too real”, director Tim Story reportedly urged Alba to “cry pretty”, a cue that didn’t sit well with Alba. What deepened the strife further was Story’s suggestion to add tears in the scene through CGI.
Related Johnny Storm’s Fantastic Four Debut Can Finally Pay Off A MCU Easter Egg Hidden In Phase 1 The MCU's Phase 1 featured many Marvel Comics Easter eggs, and one can finally be paid off in a 1960s-set The Fantastic Four reboot in Phase 6. Coming to CGI, the movie’s titular antihero Silver Surfer was voiced by Laurence Fishburne, but it was Doug Jones who physically portrayed the intergalactic drifter. But as he revealed in an episode of the Imaginary Worlds podcast, Doug Jones wasn’t aware that he would be dubbed over by another actor. Dissatisfied with the studio's decision to remove his voice altogether, the Silver Surfer actor was told that the production faced pressure to add more big names like Fishburne to the cast. Since then, Jones added a clause to all his contracts to prevent any such dubbing over his English-language parts.
Josh Trank's Fantastic Four Faced Studio Interference And Various Reshoots The Director Lamented How Fox Got New Writers Without His Knowledge Fresh off the success of his original superhero drama Chronicle, Josh Trank was hired to direct a Fantastic Four reboot for Fox. But a lot went wrong with Trank’s Fantastic Four. Before its 2015 release, the gritty superhero drama was burdened by script rewrites, delayed release dates, and Fox changing Trank’s original cut altogether. The director himself expressed his frustration on the eve of its release with his now-deleted tweet revealing that he helmed a “fantastic version”, one that audiences will never get to see. Years later, Invisible Woman actress Kate Mara also described Fantastic Four as “a horrible experience”.
Trank deleted his controversial tweet later as Fantastic Four bombed at the box office, but the filmmaker has repeated his belief that he would have offered a better film without any studio interference. Talking to The New York Times in 2020, Trank also added that the Fantastic Four shoot was misrepresented in reports of him behaving erratically on set. Doctor Doom actor Toby Kebbell supported the director’s claims in a Daily Beast interview, adding that a greater cut of the movie could've persisted if Trank got more creative freedom.
If nothing else, the Fantastic Four movie’s production curse acts as a valuable lesson for the new Marvel reboot. While the MCU film's success cannot be assured so early - especially given the franchise's more divided reception with some recent releases - the road to a more universally well-regarded Fantastic Four release has seemingly been paved by these movie predecessors.


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