20th Century Fox has had mixed success with the license to the ‘X-Men’ and its various spin-offs, but landed a lot of hits of late with ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’. But they have been less fortunate with the ‘Fantastic Four.’ Even though that team launched the Marvel Comics Universe and has been the cornerstone since, Fox was unable to capture the magic on the big screen. The first film, released in 2005 and the 2007 sequel, ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’ were met with mediocre responses from both critics and fans.
While some of the casting was perfect– Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch– other choices were completely wrong– youthful Ioan Gruffudd as the normally mature Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and the beautiful but just wrong-for-the-role Jessica Alba as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman. And the film completely mishandled Doctor Doom, who is normally the baddest of bad guys in the comics. On top of that, the sequel went with the ‘Ultimate’ comics version of Galactus, basically a giant space cloud, instead of the giant humanoid from the classic comics.
Though Fox clearly wanted to make more ‘FF’ movies, the fan support just wasn’t there and things went silent. In the meantime, in 2008, ‘Iron Man’ launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the first film from the self-owned Marvel Studios. ‘Iron Man’ was a true crowd-pleaser and the reveal that this was just Step One of assembling ‘The Avengers’ sent excitement through the roof.
Fans hoped that Fox would allow the rights to revert to Marvel Studios so that they could essentially “get them right.” But it is show BUSINESS and Fox wasn’t about to let the potential profits from a new ‘FF’ slip away, especially now that Marvel’s movies elevated the entire superhero genre in terms of both sales and popularity.
Fox hastily cranked out the 2015 reboot, with an all-new– and very young– cast. The production was reportedly a an embattled quagmire, between the studio and director Josh Trank and the result was a film that didn’t entice many to see it in the first place and those that did didn’t enjoy it.
BUT, simply because Fox made and released the film, they get to keep the rights. Though they are clearly not going to make a sequel to the 2015 reboot, they now have years to attempt to reboot ‘Fantastic Four’ a third time.
But in a few weeks, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ arrives and marks a significant change. After the lackluster performance of ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’, Sony decided not to make a third movie. Instead, they partnered with Marvel to establish a new Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) who actually lived within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fans hoped that maybe Fox would take a similar path and partner with Marvel to create a new, more faithful version of the ‘Fantastic Four’.
Well, that’s not happening anytime soon. Speaking to AlloCiné, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige crushed hopes by saying:
“[We have] no plans with the Fantastic Four right now. No discussions about it.”
Well, to be fair, considering that Marvel doesn’t have the rights to them, it wouldn’t make sense to waste man hours or money trying to plan anything regarding these characters. But who knows what the future holds? Fox has the option of selling the rights back to Marvel, which could at least recoup some of what they lost on the 2015 reboot. Or they could strike a deal similar to Sony’s and collaborate on a new take.
Unfortunately, it’s not as if a new version by any studio can erase the ones that already exist from people’s minds. The first two were only meh and the third was a bomb. The ‘FF’ brand may be too tainted to recover, at least for a few years.
What do you think? What would you like to see done with the ‘FF’ on the big screen?