Director Peyton Reed has released his film Ant-Man this weekend, marking his first foray into superhero cinema, and adding to the already well-established tapestry of the now 12 film-deep Marvel Cinematic Universe. There was a time, though, where his first superhero movie could’ve come from an entirely different set of Marvel characters.
In the early 2000’s, Reed was tapped by 20th Century Fox to direct their upcoming effort Fantastic Four. After being attached to the film for just over two years, Reed departed the project due to those pesky “creative differences” he’d had with the studio. Afterward, Fox hired Tim Story as director, and after an uncredited rewrite by Simon Kinberg (who would go on to write films like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and X-Men: Days of Future Past), it was greenlit, and the film was ultimately released in the summer of 2005 to a tepid critical response. Story returned for the sequel, 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, after which the franchise went dormant. It will be revived this August with director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, which is also written by Kinberg.
Peyton Reed hasn’t spoken much in the intervening decade about his involvement with Fantastic Four, but on the recent press blitz for Ant-Man, he has begun to open up a little bit about it. Speaking to Yahoo! Movies UK, Kinberg detailed a little bit of what the experience was like, and ultimately why he chose to walk away. He said,
I was a huge Marvel fan when I was a kid and knew ‘Fantastic Four’ inside out and felt they were always the crown jewel of Marvel. So I went in and got [hired for] the movie and I developed it for the better part of a year with three different sets of writers. But it became clear after a while that Fox had a very different movie in mind and they were also chasing a release date… so we ended up parting company.
He went into a little more detail about the falling out by describing the climate of trying to make a comic book film at Fox during the early 2000’s, and how it differs from his experience in bringing Ant-Man to life.
The environment at Fox in 2003 was very different to the environment at Marvel in 2015. Fox at that time had a very specific idea; they wanted to pitch it much younger than I wanted to and I always felt like they were treating those characters like b-level characters. I never felt like they understood the real strength of that property. […] I actually feel like Joss Whedon’s first Avengers did a lot of the same things that I would have liked to have done in Fantastic Four. These massive battles in the streets of Manhattan for example.
So, has he noticed that there’s an FF movie hitting theaters this year? And if so, what does he think of it?
I’m psyched for Josh Trank’s version. I know nothing about it but I know I really liked Chronicle, so I’m hopeful. I think there is a great Fantastic Four movie yet to be made.
Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four hits theaters on August 7th, while you can see Ant-Man in theaters now.
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