Fantastic Four (2015)
"I'm Norm of the North, king of nothing." — Norm, Norm of the North
This is a good article.
"What the hell happened?! Apparently, there was a lot of production issues with this film, and it clearly shows. My recommendation: No! Just no! Stay clear away from this pile as possible! Alongside Elektra and Man-Thing, this is one of the absolute worst Marvel movies, if not, THE absolute worst! Now it's my Seal of Fail's turn to say "It's clobberin' time"!"— JacobHessReviews
Fantastic Four (stylized as FANT4STIC) is a 2015 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the third and final theatrical Fantastic Four film to be produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox and a reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise. Directed by Josh Trank, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg, Fantastic Four premiered at Williamsburg Cinemas in New York City on August 4, 2015, and was released on August 7 in the United States.
Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom from destroying the Earth.
Why It's Not Fantastic
- The only reason the movie was made, along with The Amazing Spider-Man from Sony/Columbia Pictures, was so that 20th Century Fox could hold onto the Fantastic Four films just like how they did with the X-Men film franchise and not lose the rights to Marvel Studios - and it shows.
- Ironically, the 20th Century Fox acquisition resulted in Marvel regaining the rights to the Fantastic Four franchise anyway.
- However, unlike The Amazing Spider-Man, this movie lacks any identity, personality, and quality (in terms of writing, directing, and acting).
- The movie's troubled production set this film's reputation in stone (see "Reception")
- It looks likes the plot and sequences really came straight from Zoom: Academy for Superheroes, and a good amount of the plot simply rehashed the first Storyverse film.
- The movie seems as if it's ashamed of its source material, and just to drive the point home, the name "Fantastic Four" is never seen or mentioned on-screen at all.
- Poor character designs. For example:
- The Thing doesn't wear pants like in his previous incarnations and he looks like a giant garbage dump mashed together or even a piece of KFC chicken. It could reasonably be argued that even the Roger Corman and Storyverse versions look better than this one.
- Doctor Doom looks like a melted plastic toy that was put in a microwave or some kind of crash test dummy rather than a scientist wearing metallic armor. He's also nothing short of a complete and utter monster, contrasting his tragic villain characterization from the comics. It's generally agreed that his Storyverse counterpart at least looks much more faithful to the comics.
- Doctor Doom is a terrible villain who does not even act like a maniac scientist. Rather, he acts like an elementary school bully. For example:
- His presence as the main villain happens very late in the film, at the 1 hour and 14-minute mark.
- He was left behind at the 45-minute mark, which means he was absent for 29 minutes of the film.
- His development as a villain is rushed within 2 minutes before he goes on a murderous rampage.
- The movie also takes itself far too seriously, and is very dark, which is a far cry from the comics and even from the Storyverse movies. It aspires to become, to quote Trank himself, a "David Cronenberg superhero movie". It does feature body horror akin to The Fly and stars super-powered people but fails miserably in combining them due to the horror film theme not fitting well with the Fantastic Four characters.
- Poor grasp of the source material. For example:
- Ben Grimm/ The Thing has an abusive older brother named Jimmy who has pleasure in beating him up if he insults or ignores him as an annoyance. Jimmy also uses his brother's "It’s clobberin' time!" the catchphrase from him, which is a bad excuse to be mature and dark compared to the Storyverse, where Ben got it from a toy he had as a child.
- Ben Grimm himself is not even a musclebound man before he became the Thing, and is now a skinny one.
- The Fantastic Four got their powers from Planet Zero freak test accident than cosmic rays from a spaceship.
- Dr Franklin Storm is an elderly man than a middle aged.
- Dr. Doom got his powers from falling into the green vat on Planet Zero, than a freak lab accident in college.
- As a result in the comics, Doom’s disfiguration had nothing to do with the experiment.
- The Fantastic Four in this movie are incredibly unlikeable and dumb, the only reason they go into the teleportation machine that mutates them is that they wanted fame. Reed Richards even outright says his only motivation is fame.
- Most of the film is just boring conversations in rooms with the lights turned off.
- Some of the dialogue is laughable and somewhat boringly dull.
- Similar to the Superman film, Man of Steel, this movie uses a rather dull and washed-out color palette, which heavily goes against that of the original comics.
- However, Man of Steel had some color and beautiful cinematography, while this has neither of those.
- There's an error in one scene where Reed's file on Ben lists his birth date as 1986. However, the beginning of the film, which shows both Reed and Ben at around 10 years old, is set in 2007.
- Planet Zero doesn't even look that impressive and original.
- The movie climax is the cookie-cutter "beam into the sky that creates a portal" fight.
- There are some unlikable characters, such as Reed Richards' school teacher and Ben Grimm's brother, Jimmy.
- Choppy CGI and special effects, especially on the Human Torch and the Thing.
- Too many plot holes.
- Abysmal editing, with shots, either going slow or cutting out and moving to the next shot.
- Horrible and unenthusiastic acting, even from actors like Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell. It also has no real direction.
- The four main characters have no chemistry whatsoever, no bond unites them, not even friendship, even though this is a film about a family of superheroes. In one scene, when Sue and Johnny Storm do talk to each other, it's just relatively brief. Another example is in a scene when Reed and Sue (who are a married couple in the comics) sit down and talk, and it's not even convincing. The only moment where there is any real chemistry between the four is in the Chinese lunch scene. However, even then they're not talking to each other.
- In this movie, Reed, and Sue are acted more like rivals than love interests, coming off as Sue pushing the guilt trip enough for Reed to turn anti-hero rather than a hero.
- It still has one of the main problems with the Storyverse films which is that the characters are stuck around on Earth too much and not in cosmic adventures like in the comics. These characters got their powers in a cosmic storm during a trip to outer space, so they wouldn’t just hang around on Earth as they do in the movies.
- Horrible casting choices. For example:
- Jamie Bell was miscast as The Thing/Ben Grimm.
- Michael B. Jordan's casting as Johnny Storm led to some criticism, particularly since his sister Sue Storm was still played by a white actress. Jordan later starred as Erik 'Killmonger' Stevens/N'Jadaka in another Marvel movie, Black Panther, which is infinitely better than Fantastic Four.
- Miles Teller's casting as Reed Richards was also criticized, since he looked and sounded like a teenager, unlike the previous films where he actually acted mature and looked like an adult.
- Out of place and shameless product placement, such as Dr. Pepper, Dell, and Samsung.
- Terrible attempts to make the film dark and mature which only makes it dull and completely soulless.
- No character development whatsoever. For example:
- They seemed like selective test subjects than chosen geniuses.
- Behaving like military machines and only wanting to form a team because Reed returns.
- They don't seem like they're enjoying their superhero life.
- This movie has only one action scene, where the Fantastic Four face off against Doctor Doom near the end of the movie, which is absolutely unacceptable for any superhero or action movie.
- To make matters worse, three more action scenes were reportedly planned for the movie but were cut out days before production began. Why the heck they were cut out is unknown, though it's possible they wanted to make the film family-friendly. Regardless, that is still unacceptable for a superhero or action movie, since this is a PG-13 rated movie.
- The storyline suffers from unbelievably bad pacing, lots of padding, and certain scenes that drag on. The main characters receive their powers within the first forty minutes and the first act progresses so slowly overall (taking up a huge chunk of the movie’s running time, of which there are 100 minutes), that the second and third acts end up moving at an incredibly fast pace.
- False advertising:
- Many of the posters show the Fantastic Four in a heavily ravaged and devastated city and its quote is "change is coming", implying some kind of action scene. However, such a scene does not happen at all in the actual movie.
- In the different trailers of the film, several action scenes appear like the Thing jumping out of a plane, Sue crying for Johnny, Ben playing baseball, the Thing being shot by the army, Reed breaking a stone pillar, and the Thing about to hit Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom. These scenes never appear in the movie.
- Filler story. For example, there are several subplots in the first and second acts (like Ben Grimm's rivalry with his older brother, Johnny's connection to being a street racer, the Fantastic Four gripping and dealing with their newfound superpowers, etc.) being forgotten as soon as they are brought up.
- No cameo from the late, great Stan Lee, unlike other pre-2019 Marvel movies. Thankfully, he declined to make a cameo in this film because even he thought this movie was horrible.
- However, when he passed away in late 2018, Josh Trank regretted "letting him down" when he had received a personal letter from Lee asking him if he was okay.
- Scenes that clearly show studio-mandated re-shoots, be it for trying to clear up/hasten the plot or appearance, most notably (i.e. Kate Mara's hair having a different color due to using a wig, as well as Miles Teller having facial hair in some scenes).
- Due to a large amount of meddling and production issues, many scenes that were included in the trailers were deleted in the final cut of the movie.
- Horrible and unfinished ending, which was nothing more than an attempt to set up a planned sequel that was quickly and quietly cancelled after the movie's failure.
- Bad release date: It was released a few weeks after another Marvel movie, Ant-Man, was released. Thankfully, Ant-Man did much better than this movie.
- They turned the Thing into a complete joke. While he did have comedic moments in the Storyverse Fantastic Four movies, he was not dumb or clueless. In addition, there is a scene where he headbutts Reed. He would never hurt any of his friends for no reason and never did in any of the previous films as well as the comics. In general, he acts like a crybaby throughout most of the film. In one scene, he gets upset at Reed for trying to apologize and tells him they're no longer friends. He also doesn't have his trademark gruff voice, which Michael Chiklis perfected in the Storyverse films.
- The same point can be said regarding the other Fantastic Four members. Sue and Reed Richards were definitely more serious in the previous films and even Johnny, for as much of a clown as he was, knew when to act serious, especially during action scenes. Here in this film, they act the total opposite: They act like teenagers who just got a new credit card and their first car, and in general, they do not take their powers seriously until very late in the film, when they have to fight Doctor Doom.
- The film clearly tries to be dark and family-friendly at the same time, which does not work out at all. A superhero or action film is either dark or family-friendly. It cannot be both. This is because Trank wanted to make a "body horror" style movie, but Fox decided to modify it without his permission, resulting in a confusing movie clearly divided between the vision of the director and the studio. In short, this movie sucked due to studio interference.
- It was later revealed that Josh Trank's dog died during production and he received criticism and death threats over the film's casting, which explains his bizarre behavior during production and how Fox had him disown his film. Regardless, his behavior was still unacceptable when it comes to deciding to cast black actors for Johnny and Sue Storm/Human Torch and Invisible Woman to real-world demographics.
- The failure of the film and disowning it led Trank to never direct superhero movies ever after this movie. Even so, he even stated that his "fantastic" version of his cut doesn't exist because much of the sequences he planned were left unfilmed.
- As with the 2005 Fantastic Four film, Doctor Doom's home country of Latveria doesn't get an appearance at all in the 2015 film of the same name.
- Good soundtrack by Phillip Glass and Marco Beltrami.
- Some good acting and casting. For example:
- Toby Kebbell sounded good as Dr. Doom.
- The late Reg E. Cathey did a good job as Dr. Franklin Storm, despite the character being racebended.
- Despite being generic, Kate Mara was well-cast as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman.
- As horrible as his character design is, the Thing's size is at least accurate to the comics (even more so than in the previous movies).
- The scene where Dr. Doom goes on a murderous rampage in Area 57 manages to be genuinely horrifying, even if it's poorly executed.
- The Latin American Spanish dub is very satisfying and enjoyable.
Fantastic Four was universally panned by critics, audiences and fans alike, who criticized its screenplay, directing, lack of humor, gloomy tone, visual effects, pacing, lack of dynamic or chemistry between the main characters, unfaithfulness to the source material, its false advertising in many of its advertisements as well as the actor's portrayal of the characters, though the film’s soundtrack was praised. Trank himself has also voiced his displeasure with the final film, blaming studio interference, and has since disowned the film, and has been called "a good candidate for the worst movie of 2015". On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 9% based on 257 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 3.46/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great", making it one of the worst-rated superhero films on the site. It even became one of two winners (the other being Fifty Shades of Grey) of the 2015 Razzie Award for Worst Pictures of the Year. It has the worst Cinemascore and Rotten Tomatoes rating of any superhero movie ever made and is the worst-rated Marvel movie, even managing to score lower than Howard the Duck, which is widely regarded as one of the worst movies of all-time. The website Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 27 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". It received a "C–" rating from audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on a scale of A+ to F, which was referred to by Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter as "the worst grade that anyone can remember for a marquee superhero title made by a major Hollywood studio." On IMDb, the film holds a rating of 4.2/10 based on 155,029 votes, making it one of the lowest-rated superhero films on the site. Businessinsider.com placed the film 4th in their 25 worst superhero films of all-time list, with only Supergirl, The Lone Ranger and Catwoman ranked higher and proven to be worse.
Chris Stuckmann earned this film an F.
DeviantArt user JacobHessReviews gave this movie a rating of 1/10 (abysmal), explaining that, alongside Elektra and Man-Thing, this is one of the absolute worst Marvel movies, if not, THE absolute worst.
Angry Joe gave a 2/10 and gave EPIC FAIL seal badges.
The movie suffered from numerous production issues, ranging from director Josh Trank (of Chronicle fame)'s unprofessional and bizarre behavior on the set (which also got him fired from directing the planned Boba Fett standalone Star Wars film for Disney) to Fox attempting to take over the movie from Trank in an attempt to salvage it via re-shoots. Also, many of the people who worked on the movie, including all of the actors who starred in the film as well as Josh Trank himself, have since disowned it. In a deleted Twitter post (written just before the movie's release), Trank said that "A year ago, I had a fantastic version of this [movie] that would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though".
Ironically, two years later, all the Fox studios and the entire Fox library were purchased by Disney for $52.4 billion (later upped to $71.3 billion after a bidding war with Comcast). The deal was finalized on March 20, 2019, ending Fox's 83-year run as a major movie studio and reducing it to a Disney label. It was later rebranded as 20th Century Studios the following year. Executive Tom Rothman, who had green-lit this film as his final act before his 2012 exit, took a huge slice of the blame for the studio's demise.
The film's box office run didn't do much better. On its opening day, it made $11.3 million, which was lower than early tracking, and $25.6 million on its opening weekend, making it one of the (if not the most) lowest openings of all time for a big-budget superhero film. total it grossed $56.1 million in the U.S. and $111.9 million internationally for a total of $167.9 million, making it a box office bomb.
A sequel was scheduled for a June 9, 2017 release, but was cancelled after the first film's failure.
Following the film's major critical and box office failure, Trank has since vowed to never direct a superhero film again and sought that his "fantastic" version of his cut didn't exist because of his planned sequences unfilmed.
After Stan Lee's death three years later, Trank lamented that he had "let him down", even though after the film's release, he had received a personal letter from Lee asking him if he was okay. In 2020, Trank has admitted that much of the sequences he had planned had gone unfilmed, thus making a director's cut practically nonexistent. Later that year, Kate Mara admitted that her experience working on the film was "horrible". While she did not go into great detail, she implied that much of her discomfort came from questionable directions stating, "I think that speaking up is something that I think that we all probably learn it [sic] over and over again... I don’t regret doing it at all but do regret not having stood up for myself. I regret that for sure."
- Michael B. Jordan would later portray N'Jadaka/Erik Killmonger in another Marvel movie, Black Panther, which is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike this film, both Black Panther and Jordan's performance as Killmonger received critical acclaim, with many considering him one of the best comic-book movie villains ever while also winning an MTV Movie Award for "Best Villain".
- Chris Evans also portrayed Johnny Storm in the Tim Story films and later portrayed Captain America in the MCU.
- The relentlessly low quality of Fantastic Four movies has to do with Marvel making a licensing deal with German company Constantin in 1986 for any film adaptations of Fantastic Four and the rights to several associated characters (such as Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer, and Galactus). This deal had no expiry date. However, the contract does require movies to actually be made. This is why the 1994 Roger Corman Fantastic 4 film was created (apparently the contract does not specify that films have to be released), and why Fox made any films using the license at all. Disney acquired the license when it purchased Fox, however, and now intends to incorporate the group into the MCU. The same deal also dealt with Marvel's long-running inability to use the X-Men characters in movies, as the rights to make X-Men films were also owned by Fox. Because of this, a new reboot for Fantastic Four is in development and will take place in the MCU. John Krasinski, who's been a fan favorite pick for Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, revealed in an interview that he would be very interested in portraying the character, with Emily Blunt, who's been a fan favorite pick for Sue Storm-Richards/Invisible Woman, reportedly in talks of portraying the character. On December 10, 2020, it was announced that the film will be directed by Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts. Michael Chiklis, who played the Thing in the Tim Story films, expressed his interest in returning for the reboot.
- Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom's real name was about to be changed to Victor Domashev, after the fan backlash.
- Writer Jeremy Slater would later write the equally-reviled straight-to-Netflix Death Note movie, the American remake based on the manga/anime of the same name, the tv series Umbrella Academy from Dark Horse Comics and the upcoming Marvel tv series Moon Knight. He also revealed that his initial Fantastic Four script is more close to the comics.
- Tommy Wiseau, director of the "so bad it's good" cult film, The Room, wanted to direct the sequel if it became a reality.
- Besides being considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all time, the film is also considered to be one of the worst films ever made.
- An issue of The Punisher released months before the movie came out showed fictionalized versions of Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Kate Mara getting violently killed off in an explosion.