For every critically acclaimed box office juggernaut Marvel Studios has released, there have been just as many widely panned superhero flops.
Some of them were victims of misguided expectations, some were ruined by heavy studio interference, but one movie that checks both of these boxes is Josh Trank's FANT4ASTIC, also known as 2015’s Fantastic Four.
After the disappointment of Rise of the Silver Surfer, Josh Trank (fresh off the found-footage sci-fi thriller Chronicle) was tasked with rebooting the superhero franchise. As we all know, it resulted in a colossal failure, losing upwards of $100 million for 20th Century Fox. But while the disagreements between the studio and Trank are well-documented, there are still a few things not everyone knows about the film.
So, as part of Inverse’s celebration of all things superhero, we stepped into the Quantum Gate, and traveled all the way to Planet Zero to find six things you probably didn't know about Fantastic Four.
Josh Trank Wanted More Horror In The Film
In early interviews, Josh Trank talked about his biggest influences for Fantastic Four. Before New Mutants was sold as the first X-Men horror movie, Trank wanted to turn Marvel's best-known family into a scary story, one that would have been heavily influenced by the films of David Cronenberg.
In an interview with Collider, Trank described his darker take on the characters and how he "always viewed the Fantastic Four and the kind of weirdness that happens to these characters and how they’re transformed to really fall in line more with a Cronenberg-ian science fiction tale of something horrible happening to your body and [it] transforming out of control." Though there are still some hints of that in the film, it would have been interesting to see Trank dive fully into his Cronenberg inspirations and how that would have fit into the larger Marvel universe (or at least the part Fox owned at the time).
The Original Script Was More Cosmic
After Guardians of the Galaxy became a huge hit, it was widely reported that Marvel was starting to build up the cosmic side of its universe. Though Rise of the Silver Surfer tried to do something similar, it merely hinted at the Fantastic Four's intergalactic enemies, but if Trank had stuck with the original script for his film, we could have seen even more of the otherworldly side of the Fantastic Four.
Jeremy Slater's original script for the film still had the team visit another dimension to their powers, but this time they would have fought Annihilus, one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. In the script, Annihilus would die at the hands of Victor Doom, who was then going to declare war on the world before becoming the dictator of Latveria. Oh, and Mole Man was supposed to appear too. As if that wasn't enough, the post-credits teaser was going to feature "Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet." Sadly, Slater himself admitted his vision for the film would have been too expensive.
Trank Slept With A Gun On His Nightstand During Production
One of the boldest decisions Josh Trank made while making Fantastic Four was casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, which immediately and unsurprisingly spawned controversy among a contingent of angry white fans. Trank wanted the film to reflect the demographics of the real world, rather than the fictional story invented in 1961.
Following the casting news, Trank said he received numerous death threats. "I was getting threats on IMDb message boards saying they were going to shoot me," Trank told Polygon in a 2020 tell-all interview. The director became so paranoid that he slept with a gun on his nightstand during production. He says he returned the weapon after filming wrapped.
There Were Plans For A Two-Part Movie That Got More comic-book-y
Trank's vision for the film was very different from Jeremy Slater's original script. In many ways, it was the direct opposite. In that same interview with Polygon, Trank shared his initial idea: a two-part movie where Part 1 saw the characters settle into their new superpowered bodies before the sequel brought more comic book action.
"The end of the Fantastic Four was going to very organically set up the adventure and the weirdness and the fun,” Tank said. “That would be the wish fulfillment of the sequel, but the first movie was going to basically be the filmic version of how I saw myself all the time: the metaphor of these characters crawling out of hell."
This tracks with the director’s Cronenberg-ian inspiration, that the characters would almost go through a horror movie experience as the radiation transformed their bodies before finally embracing their new reality. (Sort of like if The Fly ended with Jeff Goldblum becoming a superhero, instead of a terrifying monster.)
The Cast Almost Had Cameos In Deadpool 2
Once it became clear that Fantastic Four was not a hit, plans for a sequel were stealthily scrapped. But that doesn't mean there weren't plans to include the characters and the cast in other films. Turns out, they almost got a cameo in another Fox superhero movie: Deadpool 2.
Before creative differences forced Tim Miller to part ways with Fox, his vision of Deadpool 2 included cameos from the main cast of Fantastic Four. Marvel Entertainment illustrator Alexander Lozano even posted his concept art on Instagram, revealing Miller’s plan to show the characters in their trademark blue suits.
Not only that, Miller wanted to film a sequence where The Thing fights Juggernaut in Deadpool 2’s big finale, and he even cleared the cameo with Fox. Unfortunately, we never got any of these fantastic cameos, but we did get Brad Pitt for a split second, so there's that.
Tommy Wiseau Wanted To Direct A Sequel
Plenty of filmmakers would kill to get the chance to direct a superhero movie. When it comes to Fantastic Four, Matthew Vaughn has said he'd want to "rectify the mistake" of the film by directing a sequel, but an even more interesting director also threw his bucket hat into the ring: The Room's Tommy Wiseau.
Shortly after the release of Fantastic Four, Wiseau criticized the film in an interview and offered an easy fix: "It’s too bad they didn’t call me, that’s all I want to say and I rest my case."
Even if he wasn't asked to direct, Wiseau clarified that he's still pretty much open to the idea.
"Maybe if there’s a sequel,” he said. “You know, maybe [this interview] gets me that job, who knows what will happen"