After the mess that was 2008’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, no-one would have blamed 20th Century Fox for walking away from the characters.
But, as they watched the MCU begin to take shape, Fox decided that they weren’t content to just roll over and let the rights revert to Marvel, so they decided to reboot the franchise and try to right their wrongs. The result was 2015’s Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Kate Mara.
Watching from a truly objective standpoint, it’s a movie with a lot of promise. As someone who’s never been particularly interested by the Fantastic Four comics, and is mostly indifferent towards the 2005 movie, the reboot starts well.
It establishes its characters and their relationships quickly, and details what they’re doing without delving into too much psuedo-science. The roles all seem to be well cast, and each actor delivers a believable performance. So where exactly did Fantastic Four go wrong?
Actually, you can near enough give a timestamp by way of an answer to that question. The movie dives well and truly off of a cliff with the (re-)emergence of Victor Von Doom after his time trapped on “Planet Zero”.
Not only is the iconic villain’s new design laughable, but the plot seemingly disappears into the vortex he creates to consume the Earth. The fight between Doom and the Fantasic Four is simply awful, set in a dark, rocky wasteland as the heroes and villain fire rocks and telekinetic bursts at one another for approximately ten minutes.
The saddest part about it is that aside from the disappointing third act, Fantastic Four is actually a pretty good origin story. There are a few glaring script issues that tamper with the group’s onscreen chemistry, but mostly, they’re a believable team of friends, and it’s not hard to imagine what a sequel might look like.
Stylistically, the reboot took a few liberties, but most of them were harmless – in fact, the only one that’s truly awful is Doom’s new look, and that’s one that you’ve really got to nail if you want to make the Fantastic Four work.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this reboot, but sadly, it fell just a little short of the line – so why is it look down upon so vehemently?
Marvel had long since established a picture of what a superhero movie should look like, and most of Fantastic Four’s target audience felt that this movie just didn’t quite fit that mould. Those that didn’t hate it were undoubtedly frustrated by the knowledge that these characters would be forever stuck outside the MCU. Whichever camp you fall into, the simple truth is that the Fantastic Four’s 2015 reboot was little more than an exercise in pointlessness.
Summary: It’s ambitiously different to the movies in the MCU, and had its character design and writing been just a little better, it might have stood a chance. It’s not the worst movie ever, but resisting Marvel rendered this movie entirely futile.