It isn’t an exaggeration to assert that the 2015 reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four was one of the most disliked live-action comic book adaptations to date, with critics and would-be fans all agreeing that the film was a disaster. The poor performance of the Fantastic Four film at box offices nixed the hope of a sequel almost in a single night of showing. Now, Jeremy Slater, the screenwriter for that film, reveals that the finished product varied greatly from what was intended, and as he shares the items previously unknown to fans, he suggests Fantastic Four might have experienced a far better debut in theaters.
Fantastic Four Screenwriter Jeremy Slater On The Film We Didn’t Get To See
Blastr reveals that the diverging of the Fantastic Four story began when director Josh Trank (Chronicle) chose to take the film in a different direction, abandoning the vision Slater (The Lazarus Effect, Pet) had set for the Marvel reboot. Slater had a much bigger vision for Fantastic Four than what was eventually committed to film, partly because he had hoped to incorporate other Marvel characters in the plot. Jeremy hoped to bring in Annihilus, Galactus, and Silver Surfer in an attempt to build up an epic good-versus-evil battle for the debut of this new Fantastic Four team.
While the character additions and ambitious story arc would have certainly required a greater budget, Jeremy says there was more to it than that, citing the creative differences between Trank and himself. Slater said his vision for Fantastic Four included “lots of humor, lots of heart, lots of spectacle,” while director Josh Trank was looking for something more “grounded, gritty, and as realistic as possible.”
While there’s more to be learned about what might have been in place of what was delivered in the finished Fantastic Four film, it all boils down to those sentiments. Trank delivered a darker story in place of the lighter tone for which Slater was aiming and, when it comes to comic book superheroes, whether they be DC or Marvel followers, moviegoers aren’t looking for anything too dark and serious. They want humor with their action, camp with their villains, and humanity with their heroes. Jeremy Slater was hoping to deliver just that.
The Fantastic Four Film Had Been Planned As An Origins Story
Screen Crush reveals that Jeremy had planned for an adventurous origins story for the Fantastic Four, which would have been both lighter and far more appealing to traditional Fantastic Four fans. In Slater’s version, Fantastic Four followed Reed and Ben through childhood, when they were recruited into The Baxter Foundation, which Jeremy describes as “a sort of Hogwarts for nerds: a school filled with young geniuses zipping around on prototype hoverboards and experimenting with anti-gravity and teleportation and artificial lifeforms.”
While at Baxter, Reed would meet his future Fantastic Four nemesis, Victor Von Doom, and the two would start out as friends. As Victor, already playing the part of the bad guy, would tempt Reed to break the rules at every turn, Ben would be left out, feeling like a third wheel. Eventually, this leads the future heroes, along with Victor, to become drawn into the Negative Zone, where a fight with Annihilus results in the already gifted kids getting zapped with radiation, which would, in turn, grant each of them their powers.
“In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone, we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet,” said the Fantastic Four screenwriter.
“We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed. And if you think all of that sounds great…well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.”
In addition to budget concerns and disagreements between the Fantastic Four writer and director, the studio was pressuring Trank to get the film finished within the deadline, fearing that the rights to the Fantastic Four characters would revert back to Marvel before the film could be released. Being rushed didn’t help Trank, and it was reported that he was showing the signs of stress associated with that pressure throughout filming the Fantastic Four reboot.
Even with so much conflict and stress in making the Fantastic Four reboot, Jeremy Slater says he’s not sore about it, because it was still an opportunity to work with some of his most beloved Marvel characters. Slater shared his Fantastic Four vision because he thinks fans would appreciate learning about what might have been, not out of resentment or any intention to criticize Josh Trank.
[Image by 20th Century Fox]