As usual, Marvel has a lot going on this spring and summer. It begins with the upcoming release of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, and as we’ve already written about, there are numerous promotional showings coming along with said release. Most ambitious of all will be the marathon 11-movie, in-theater showing of all of the Avenger-focused movies (which apparently includes GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY). But even after all the hoopla of the new Avengers movie, Marvel has a busy year on its hands. The studio is introducing a new big screen hero with ANT-MAN in July, but perhaps most interestingly of all, Marvel is attempting a reboot of its Fantastic Four superhero team this coming August.
FANTASTIC FOUR is due out on August 7 in the U.S., according to the film’s IMDB page. But how exactly did this reboot come to be, after the previous attempt at bringing these particular heroes to the big screen flopped so remarkably?
To begin with, it must be acknowledged that flops, in Marvel’s universe, are relative. Yes, 2005’s FANTASTIC FOUR was disappointing in comparison to most other major superhero projects and earned mostly horrible reviews. But despite these negatives, its box office pull was still pretty lucrative; the film netted over $330 million worldwide with a $100 million budget. Perhaps $230 million-plus in profits justified the fact that there was even a sequel to this utterly mediocre movie. Hell, even 2007’s more or less forgotten FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER generated over $100 million in profits.
In the meantime, despite what many perceive as a failed project, the Fantastic Four characters have remained relevant in modern fiction and culture. Marvel’s comics database shows numerous Fantastic Four-based comic volumes having been released since the 2007 film, including various collaborative stories with other Marvel characters. Additionally, the Fantastic Four have gained what seems to be a permanent place in the Internet gaming market, where the most popular heroes regularly populate online casinos. Betfair bingo hosts a Fantastic Four-themed slot machine game, and though the game appears to be directly based on the 2005 movie, it nevertheless utilizes the classic characters. Mr. Fantastic, The Human Torch, The Thing, and The Invisible Woman take the place of ordinary slot tabs, and musical and artistic bits of the comics and movies alike populate the game. These examples?
??the modern comic volumes and the endurance of the characters on popular gaming platforms—indicate an ongoing popularity for the Fantastic Four that provides some of the foundation for the coming reboot.
As for how the new movie actually came to be, however, it probably hasn’t been the smoothest process among the Marvel-related films. Namely, it’s because it doesn’t actually come directly from Marvel Studios. Constantin Film has actually owned the rights to the Fantastic Four characters as they relate to the cinema since 1994. Their distribution deal with 20th Century Fox led to the 2005 and 2007 movies, and the same partnership will be responsible for the 2015 reboot. This isn’t necessarily unusual. In fact, Fox also has the rights to the X-Men franchise that has gotten better and better. But in the case of the Fantastic Four, there does appear to be some additional bitterness, as Marvel has reportedly suspended the comic series as a sort of strike against the new movie.
Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox has been moving ahead with the reboot for a surprisingly long time, having started the process back in 2009. The project has already gone through numerous writers, with Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Josh Trank ultimately being credited. Trank, who’s best known for CHRONICLE, was hired in 2012 to direct (and will reportedly direct the sequel as well). Casting took a little bit longer but exploded suddenly late in 2014 with the blockbuster announcements of a handful of up-and-coming Hollywood stars. Miles Teller, who co-starred in the Oscar-nominated WHIPLASH, leads the way as Mr. Fantastic, but he isn’t alone when it comes to young talent. Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell round out the Fantastic Four as Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and The Thing, respectively. For most fans, it was the announcement of these four that turned a vague concept of a reboot into a sudden, exciting reality.
And now, we wait. The film’s first trailer has already been released, and it displays a far more serious tone, distinctly reminiscent of the last two X-Men movies. Additionally, there are occasional bits of news and information regarding the specifics of the movie, such as Screen Rant’s recent reveal that original comic costumes will be used this time around. We’ll know more in the coming months as additional plot details and trailers are released, but for now it looks as if Fox and Marvel Entertainment may just have an improbable hit on the way.