By now, I think we can all agree that Fantastic Four is a terrible, terrible movie. Whatever the reason behind it, 2015’s Fantastic Four will go down in history as the most expensive reason ever to retain comic book rights by a studio.
And the thing is, Fantastic Four did not have to be the kind of movie. It could have been a film that captilised on the kooky space adveture of Reed Richards and pals, instead of a dark and gritty David Cronenberg-esque experiment.
And notorious screenwriter Max Landis, he of Chronicle fame” had an interesting pitch for the first Marvel family. One that would have focused on a family of gods, as he explained in an interview with The Daily Beast:
My Fantastic Four was an on-the-run movie. It begins with their origin, which is an illegal Branson-esque space launch where they want to go see this thing. They become the biggest celebrities in the world, except then they wreck and they get these horrible powers.
The government is hunting them and they split up, and you really get into the dynamics of these people as they’re learning to control their powers. So the origin takes place in the first two minutes and then you learn it’s a character movie. Avengers had just come out, and I wanted to present Fox’s superhero team so that any one of them could beat all of the Avengers, and any one of them could be the villain of an Avengers movie.
Reed Richards is indestructible. Sue Storm can control light. Johnny Storm can burn hotter than the sun. The Thing is impossibly strong, and you can’t hurt him no matter what you do. I thought, what a cool idea, that these four friends have accidentally become gods.”
Landis also had a neat idea for Victor Von Doom, the prime nemesis of the Fantastic Four, that would have revealed the inherent nobility of the character:
I had Doctor Doom as a good guy, one of Reed’s college friends, and my whole movie he’s trying to find and help them but it wasn’t clear if he was good or bad—until the finale of the movie when you realize his connection to Reed, and that they’re best friends.
The audience who knows Doctor Doom thinks he’s going to turn bad, but the movie ends with him saving them. And in the sequel he’s probably good, too. You know, you Sam Raimi-Spider-Man it—at the end of the sequel he gets all fucked up and shows up in the Doctor Doom armor. But then in the third movie he’s like, ‘What have you done to me?’
That’s a good pitch, and about as far as it got really. Fox went in a different direction, Landis went to work elsewhere and Fantastic Four bombed spectacularly. Well, at least Fox has another eight years to retain the Fantasic Four rights. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
In case you’re wondering what the Landis script was like, here’s four pages of it, recently posted by the man himself on Twitter:
Last Updated: August 25, 2015