Fox had such high hopes for last summer’s Fantastic Four reboot. It was supposed to give them another viable comic book franchise to stand alongside their X-Men. There were rumors that, if this one went well, the two franchises would eventually cross over. It was going to give Marvel’s First Family the proper big screen treatment they deserved, and erase the memory of the two films from a decade ago. With exciting up-and-coming actors like Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, and Kate Mara helping fill out the cast, it was almost assured to be a certified hit.
Well…you know what they say about “almost”.
Instead of adding another notch to Fox’s comic book cred, not to mention chip away at the box office dominance of Marvel Studios, Fantastic Four died a fast, painful, spectacular death. It was universally loathed by critics and fans alike. It actually made those earlier films look good, and somehow made the whole Galactus-is-a-fart-cloud thing seem tolerable. This thing was BAAAAAD, and it couldn’t even make back half of its $120 million budget at the domestic box office. Plans for the sequel were quickly scrapped, and it’s safe to say it will be a very long time before Fox takes another crack at bringing Mr. Fantastic and his family back to life. Or they could always follow Sony’s lead and work out a deal with Marvel, unless they decide to just sell them back the rights completely.
Miles Teller, who starred in Josh Trank’s doomed (get it?) stinkpile as Mr. Fantastic, recently discussed the film during an appearance on the happyandconfused podcast. Surprisingly, he made a bit of an effort to defend the film, though he didn’t try TOO hard.
“People think that when you make something like a Fantastic Four that doesn’t do well, people think ‘Oh you phoned it in’ and it couldn’t be more untrue. You work harder on the bad films, or the films that turn out maybe not the way you intended, because something’s not working. And I thought it was kind of unjustly critiqued that way; there are even bigger bombs if you’re looking at how much money went into the production and what they reaped back. But I think it’s unfortunate a movie like that becomes a scarlet letter on a resume when so many talented people worked really hard and maybe a handful of people took it in a negative direction. But so many people worked really hard on that that are so talented.”
Ok, it’s nice to know that everyone tried real hard to make a good movie. Unfortunately, all the hard work in the world couldn’t save the film from failing miserably. In the weeks following its release, fingers were pointed at both director Josh Trank and the Fox studio itself. Teller didn’t name a guilty party outright, but it’s clear that script issues played a big part in the film’s struggles.
“I think it was Clooney who said you can make a bad movie out of a good script, you can’t make a good movie out of a bad script, and that’s very true. If they’re telling you maybe your part’s not as big and they say, ‘Oh you’re gonna be bigger in the sequel’ or ‘Oh we’re gonna rewrite’ and ‘Yeah we’re gonna take in all these notes,’ if you’re in a position where you can say hold off I’m not signing off on this dotted line until this script is exactly where you want it, then you’re in a very fortunate position. Because I know actors that have been in literally Oscar-winning performances that told me that script was a struggle every day to get it to a place that [they] wanted it, and [they] were always fighting for the best version of it.”
Script issues tend to reflect poorly on the studio, particularly as one of the writers was producer Simon Kinberg. But it’s also been made perfectly clear that Josh Trank deserves plenty of the blame here as well. I think all parties involved would prefer if we just forget this thing ever happened. We may forget, but we will never forgive.
Miles Teller is currently working on the film Thank You For Your Service and has been rumored to be on Disney’s shortlist to star in their upcoming young Han Solo film. So while Fantastic Four will always be an unfortunate blemish on his record, I think he’ll be just fine.
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