Fans of The Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics’ oldest superteam, have been burned by movies before. First there was Roger Corman’s cheapie adaptation, made in 1994 to meet a deadline, because Corman and co-producer Bernd Eichinger had an option on the characters that was about to expire. That film was never officially released. Then there were a pair of Tim Story-directed films from the mid-’00s that had little going for them beyond a winning Chris Evans performance as the Human Torch. There’s a bit of Corman-esque déjà vu to this new version, too: Fox needs to keep making Fantastic Four movies to retain its option on the property. Marvel Studios would very much like that option back, and there’s no love lost between the two camps. (Marvel has even announced the cancelation of the Fantastic Four comic book ahead of the film’s release, though it swears there’s no connection between the two events, even though the title has been a company cornerstone since 1963.) The film has also prompted some early grousing, and coded racism, from fans about some of the decisions made by director Josh Trank (Chronicle) and writer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days Of Future Past), particularly the casting of African-American actor Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch.
Yet the involvement of Trank, a rising star, has signaled this is no fly-by-night FF adaptation from the start, as has the first-rate cast, which extends beyond the terrific Jordan to include Miles Teller (as Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (as The Invisible Woman), and Jamie Bell (as The Thing). The first trailer suggests a darker—literally and figuratively—take on the material, than has ever made it to the screen before. Let’s have a look:
The trail of the tape
Title: Fantastic Four
Director: Josh Trank
Screenwriter: Simon Kinberg
Cast: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan
Release date: August 7, 2015
The entire trailer in one line of dialogue: “With every new discovery, there is risk, there is sacrifice, and there are consequences.”
The entire trailer in one gif:
So, what to make of all that? Trank and Kinberg, in an unusual move, have provided their own audio commentary over at Yahoo! Movies, which provides some hints as to what’s to come. A few nuggets: Stan Lee told Trank he liked the idea of someone doing a serious take on the Fantastic Four. Those black suits aren’t just fashionable—they play a role in containing the characters’ powers, or something. And the team apparently turns into the Fantastic Four not by traveling into space and encountering cosmic rays, but by traveling through dimensions. Trank and Kinberg also cite Ultimate Fantastic Four, Marvel’s younger, alternate-universe take on the characters—which debuted in 2004 and was initially written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, and drawn by Andy Kubert—as a source for inspiration. (Though, somewhat confusingly, Trank and Kinberg also keep referencing The Ultimates and artist Bryan Hitch, whose influence is apparent on the production design.)
As for how it looks: Let’s say “promising,” for now. There isn’t that much to go on here, and the structure and tone of the trailer is pretty much that of every other big blockbuster trailer out right now. But a serious FF movie with a great cast and a look that doesn’t scream “wait to catch this on FX some rainy afternoon” is certainly welcome.