The has been a lot controversy lately surrounding the new Fantastic Four film especially since the $120 million film only managed to collect about $26 million domestically at the box office, and the reviews seem to go from bad to worse. But the one light at the end of the tunnel is that perhaps, like with Spider-Man, the rights of the characters might be sold back to Marvel Studios so that even if they don’t star in their own Fantastic Four movie again they can feature in team ups with the other Marvel characters.
In one large blame game, the bad reviews and low box office numbers were blamed on the studio, 20th Century Fox by the director, Josh Trank; and others blamed it on Josh Trank’s erratic behavior. But underneath all of this, there was a faint whisper going around that Marvel could have probably done a better job. This, yes, could be a premature statement to make, but Marvel has made successes out of obscure heroes such as Ant Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor, how much more wouldn’t they throw out the red carpet treatment for Marvel’s First Family – the Fantastic Four.
Yes, Marvel has a good reputation, but even more than that, Marvel knows their characters and they have the heart in order to portray them faithfully onscreen and develop them well. Not to say that Fox doesn’t, because X-Men has been thriving under their control, and many attribute the first X-Men film as the one that changed the tide of superhero movies.
But what’s all the fuss about the Fantastic Four?
The reason why the Fantastic Four is such a treasured commodity by Marvel and why it would be a scoop to get the rights back to it (along with X-Men, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon) was because they were Marvel’s first superhero team in 1961 – before the Avengers, before the X-Men there were the Fantastic Four. The foursome of Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, The Human Torch and The Thing were the creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and were the launching point from where Marvel went from a small publishing company to a popular culture phenomenon. In short, much of the success of Marvel can be attributed back to the Fantastic Four.
So what should happen next for the Fantastic Four?
After three failed films does this mean that the Fantastic Four is unfilmable even though they have a sequel scheduled for 2017?
With regards to claims that the Fantastic Four as characters just don’t translate well onscreen, I disagree. A lot of the problems with the latest reiteration wasn’t the acting or the characterisation, it was the plot and pacing. The foursome are layered, complicated characters in the same vein as Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and others, they have interesting dynamics between each other and supporting characters, and they have villains like Doctor Doom and the Sub-Mariner, that match them well, and provide an intriguing repertoire with the heroes. I think it would be waste to write off these characters, storylines and villains just because it wasn’t done well on-screen.
But even if Marvel and Disney dig deep in the pockets and buy the Fantastic Four from their fate at Fox, would it be worth it? Or is the Fantastic Four so tainted in the eyes of the public that it would poison the success of Marvel’s films?
Eric Diaz at Nerdist.com had an interesting suggestion - to create a Fantastic Four Netflix series. Fox is currently trying to develop a TV series based on the X-Men but earlier this year Marvel hit the ball out of the park with excellency in superhero TV series when Daredevil aired. Daredevil pushed the boundaries, got to the nitty gritty of the character while still embracing what made the comic character so well loved, and Marvel could give the Fantastic Four the same treatment. Diaz goes on to suggest that the series be set in the 1960s like other period series like Mad Men, as well as giving it the setting that they were created for. So while we have Agent Carter showing us the early days of Marvel before S.H.I.E.L.D and we have the rest of the films and series showing modern times, Fantastic Four could help to bridge the gap and perpetuate the larger universe.
Introducing the characters into the other Marvel films could also help to improve their reputation away from the disappointing previous films. Getting their characters to interact with popular characters such as Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow, allow them to infiltrate into the general universe much in the same way as Scarlet Witch and Clint Barton have.
According to Comic Book Resources, Fox have no plans to let go of the Fantastic Four despite the failing box office numbers and still intend to go ahead with their sequel. But with the success of X-Men and the upcoming releases of Deadpool and Gambit, perhaps Marvel and Disney could persuade them to sell the sinking ship in their fleet.