With every bit of news that comes out, the buzz around the upcoming Fantastic Four movie from director Josh Trank is getting worse and worse. What can be done to turn things around?
The latest revelation from actor Toby Kebbell that Doctor Doom's origin and even name were being drastically changed for director Josh Trank's reboot of the franchise is already being met with a sense of confusion and anger, even if it sort of references his origins in the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, upon which this movie is seemingly based.
But the Doom bombshell comes after months and months of other questionable moves by Trank, producer/screenwriter Simon Kinberg and 20th Century Fox, including odd casting choices, poorly thought-out statements from members of the cast, and a lack of anything official -- not even a photo or teaser -- to give fans some hint of what's going on.
The result is that the buzz on Fantastic Four in the fan community is bad. Like, real bad. And for a relaunch like this, if you don't have that community on your side, it could end up being a disastrous situation at the box office. So what can Trank, the cast, the studio and the production do to turn the ship around? Here are some suggestions:
1) Show us something. Anything.
To date, we have not seen a single official image from Fantastic Four. Not one. Leaked images that possibly showed us Doom and the Thing have been the sum total of what's gotten out there, along with the above selfie taken by the cast. The studio and production missed a huge opportunity by not even bringing an image or teaser to Comic-Con, let alone the cast or a sizzle reel. The movie comes out in less than a year -- why is Fox hiding it, at this point? Are they not confident in what they have? Official imagery would be great, but video would be even better -- remember, there were huge doubts about Hugh Jackman ("Who?" -- comics fans in early 2000) as Wolverine and Heath Ledger as the Joker until people actually got to see how the actors inhabited the parts. A clip of the cast actually doing Fantastic Four-y things could help convince us that the mythology we love isn't being wholly abandoned.
2) Put Trank out there.
The director has said little to nothing about the film, while all producer Simon Kinberg has done is hint that the movie is based on the Ultimate comics. So schedule a visit to the editing bay for a few choice outlets and let them sit down for an in-depth interview with Trank. He doesn't have to reveal everything, but he can at least speak in broad terms about the choices he's making, the rationale behind leaning on the Ultimate books and his motivation to present four of Marvel's most fantastical heroes in a gritty, ultra-real fashion. Let him own his take on the film and tell us how it is "like the comics" instead of how it's not, which seems to be all we're hearing.
3) Tell the cast to zip it.
In addition to Toby Kebbell, Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm) has made comments hinting that the movie has moved away from its traditional origins, while Miles Teller (Reed Richards) and Kate Mara (Sue Storm) have admitted to having a general lack of knowledge about the Fantastic Four mythology and no particular interest in learning about it. We're not saying Teller -- a fine actor, by the way -- has to hole up in his apartment with 50 years' worth of comic books, but comments like these come across in print as sounding almost disdainful of the deep roots of the Fantastic Four. Keep your actors from saying anything, for now, that hurts the property any further.
4) Get some comic-book writers on your side.
The studio should invite some writers who have worked on the various permutations of the Four to see the film and offer their thoughts and perhaps an endorsement. Even if this is a radically different version of the mythology, it might not be a bad idea to get people like Matt Fraction, James Robinson and Brian Michael Bendis to offer their approval. And, what the hell, call up Stan Lee and have him come over and take a look too. You know Stan will go to bat for you.
5) Start over.
This is the most radical suggestion, but from a certain standpoint it might be the best option. Either do extensive reshoots to make this movie seem more like an actual Fantastic Four movie or scrap it and begin again. The latter is pretty unlikely, of course, but here's an even wilder scenario: Sell the rights back to Marvel completely, and include the price tag for this film as part of the total cost. Marvel might just go for it and bury this movie so they can give the Four a fresh relaunch and not be burdened by fallout from this one.
Look, for all of this, Fantastic Four might end up being a great movie. The filmmakers and studio could very well dazzle us with its boldness and originality. But right now, they are doing nothing to let us know that, and the hole they're digging just keeps getting deeper with each new tidbit that emerges. It's time for Josh Trank and Fox to flame on and let us know why we should be excited about this film before the air of doubt that surrounds it dooms it before it arrives.
What do you think -- can this Fantastic Four movie be saved? Let us know in the comments!