Of all the upcoming superhero films on the horizon, 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise is arguably the one that has the most to prove. One controversy after another rose to the forefront, caused by everything from casting decisions to miscommunication over whether or not the film would be based on the comics. Not only that, the studio missed a golden opportunity to win over some skeptics when they did not bring the project to San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year.
In all honesty, this has been one of the more bizarre big-scale productions in recent memory. Director Josh Trank wrapped up production last month (August 2014), and fans have yet to see anything official – despite the film hitting theaters next summer. Compare that to the number of images available for similar titles like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, one can see how Fox has an uphill climb when it comes to selling the general public on a new take on Marvel’s First Family.
Besides some leaked set images of Dr. Doom (Toby Kebbel), there literally has been nothing for fans to chew on during this pre-release stage; not even a plot synopsis. However, we may finally have some clues pertaining to the movie’s story, thanks to a new report.
Schmoes Know are claiming that their sources have revealed the origin story for the team. Instead of obtaining their powers during a mission to outer space (like the original 616 comics and the Tim Story films), the Fantastic Four will become superheroes via a lab experiment gone wrong. Apparently, they open a portal to a new world/dimension and receive their gifts after being exposed to this new world.
In their writeup, Schmoes notes that this is more in line with the “Ultimate” version of the Fantastic Four comic, which shouldn’t be a big surprise to fans. Writer Simon Kinberg previously name-dropped that interpretation when he described the film as a coming-of-age tale, so he was most likely using those books as his principle source of inspiration when penning the screenplay. It’s also wise for the filmmakers to switch things up a bit in order to differentiate the reboot from the much-maligned originals that came out in the mid-2000s.
Perhaps the biggest lightning rod surrounding Fantastic Four has been the hiring of Michael B. Jordan to portray Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. In the comics, the character is Caucasian, so many have been wondering how this detail would be addressed on the screen, since Jordan is an African-American actor.
There have been two schools of thought when it comes to this aspect: adoption or mixed-race marriage. According to Schmoes, the first theory is going to be the right one, as Sue Storm (Kate Mara) is the one who is taken in by the Storms. Back in May, we learned that Reg E. Cathey was cast as Franklin Storm (Sue and Johnny’s father), so this is certainly a plausible outcome. Since the beginning, some thought that Johnny would be the one who was adopted, but the film will perhaps reverse that.
Like we’ve said many times before, a character’s skin color, hair style, or any other physical attribute doesn’t matter if the creative team can capture the spirit of the source material and do it justice.
Our editors have mentioned on the Screen Rant Underground podcast that comic book filmmakers take artistic liberties with superheroes all the time – including everyone’s new favorite film, Guardians of the Galaxy – in order to make the best product possible (in their point of view). If Jordan can nail the rebellious attitude and charisma of Johnny Storm, the “outrage” over his involvement will look silly in retrospect.
Fortunately for Jordan and his fellow co-stars, it sounds as if they will have the opportunity to really dive into the psychology of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm. Schmoes Know‘s sources also indicated that the reboot is going to be “character-driven” with a major focus placed on their relationships in order to set up new installments.
We’ve known for a while that Trank was going to look to incorporate a different tone for his version of the story, but now Tim Blake Nelson’s comments about the script having “soul” are being reinforced. That’s a positive sign and (on paper) sets up Fantastic Four as something that has the potential to deliver a quality film when it comes out next August.
Kinberg is going for something a little more serious than what we’ve seen before, and inserting some heavy character drama (with an emphasis on family) into the proceedings would be an ideal way to accomplish that goal. We’ll just have to see what happens.
Fantastic Four will be in theaters on August 7, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.