We all know the awfulness of the final product that is Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, but what might the film have looked liked before the wheels fell off amid a mountain of rewrites and budget cuts?
Birth.Movies.Death has scored an earlier copy of the script, which seems to be a drastically different film when compared to the mess we received. Back in 2012, Trank and Jeremy Slater were hired to put together a script for a new Fantastic Four. But in 2014 Fox producer Simon Kinberg did a major rewrite on that document. Their report on the script compares it to the “tone and action” of a Marvel movie, as opposed to the darker feel of the final product.
It sounds like the film kicks off in a relatively similar manner, with young Reed and Ben as kids, then leads to Reed working at the Baxter Building with Sue and Johnny. There was no elder Dr. Storm in the original version. Doom also gets a bit more screen time and is feeding intel on the inter-dimensional project back to Latveria. There’s also a Dr. Harvey Elder (aka Mole Man) working in the Baxter Building to create Moloids.
But things really diverge when they activate the quantum gate. In the original script, they found a massive, empty alien city on the other side, full of alien skeletons. Who is there causing all that carnage? Galactus, in his traditional comic-book form (no clouds!), and he chases the explorers back through the gate, blasting them with dark energy. He also gets Victor, which leads to a semi-similar take on the origin we saw in the theatrical cut.
After that: Cut forward four years, not just one. Johnny Storm is a reality TV star, Sue is using her powers to help people at the Baxter building, and Ben Grimm is working for the military (in a similar capacity to what made it into the final version). Doctor Doom’s return comes about because Latveria used that stolen intel to build their own quantum gate, and they get a lot more than they bargained for by reopening that door. Within minutes, Doom takes over the country. The story picks up with Reed Richards after he has built a Herbie robot, and he’s attempting to sell the plans for a FantastiCar to Toyota (seriously).
From there, Doom sends troops to attack the Fantastic Four, and during the carnage, Elder is infected with his own serum and becomes Mole Man. The battle with Mole Man works almost like a mini-boss battle in the streets of NYC, as the group teams up to take on Doom, who is building a dark energy cannon to use against Galactus. Turns out Doom was forced to be his herald, and he only escaped because he gave the Destroyer of Worlds the address to Earth. The gang manages to stop Doom with an epic battle in Latveria, though the film ends with the looming threat of Galactus set up for a sequel.
Considering the elements that existed in this original draft, and the finished product, it’s easy to see where they cut and pasted out massive chunks of the expensive action set pieces. Trank and Slater conceived of a very different film, and it seems the rewrite and budget cuts chopped out pretty much all the stuff that would’ve made this film at least make some sense. It’s dense, sure, but it at least seems to have made sense.
We’re obviously just judging the high points of a draft script, but if nothing else, this works better than what actually made it into theaters. Which is a shame, because this could’ve actually been a fun movie with some awesome comic canon in the mix.
What do you think? Do you wish we’d have gotten this version?