Well, you probably know the guts of the story by now. 2015’s Fantastic Four movie, directed by Josh Trank, proved to be one of the misfires of last year (even though there remains interesting ideas and material within it). Criticized by its director in the run up to its release, savaged by critics, and with the appearance of having been butchered by reshoots and editing problems, the film has left the series in limbo. Various people associated with it – including producer Simon Kinberg – are keen to stress that a Fantastic Four 2 is still possible. But there’s little sign of it thus far.
Jeremy Slater was the first screenwriter hired to pen the screenplay for Fantastic Four, and in a new interview with Screen Crush, he’s outlined the film he had in mind across the 10 to 15 or so drafts he worked on.
Slater revealed that while the guts of the story remain similar, the tone and structure differ. While Josh Trank was after something grittier and grounded, Slater went for humor, heart, and spectacle.
As for specific story details? Well, come the bit of the film where the four go to the Baxter Foundation, Slater had this envisaged 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.” Here, Reed Richared (Miles Teller) would have met another scientist by the name of Victor, who would have started convincing him to bend rules, and thus bring Richards into conflict with one or two of his colleagues.
Slater then would have sent the Fantastic Four to an alternate dimension – this time going by the name of the Negative Zone – and here “they would have fought Annihilus. Annihilus appears to kill Victor, and the rest get zapped with radiation on their return home, giving them their powers. Later, Victor returns from the Negative Zone, ‘having killed Annihilus and reshaped his control rod into a sort of living body armor.’”
From there? Doctor Doom would have declared war on the world, Mole Man would have sent a 60-foot monster to New York, and we would have had “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. 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 is, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.”
It sounds it, too. Around $300m of expense, and thus it was never going to happen. As for Slater, he’s laissez-faire about it all, and clearly holds no grudge against 20th Century Fox or Josh Trank. It’s just the Fantastic Four film he outlined sounded, in the end, quite a bit different from the one we got.
Screen Crush has the full interview here.
Fantastic Four is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra 4K Blu-ray.