UPDATED: The Fantastic Four director Josh Trank responded to this story and confirms that the synopsis posted below is not true, and that he does not know where it came from. Trank reported this on Twitter, where he has poked holes in rumors before. His Tweets are below:
From earlier: The one criticism you can’t throw Marvel’s way is that they haven’t remained true to the origins and backgrounds of their characters. While Sony is monkeying around and making Spider-Man a "legacy" character tied to his parents’ death, and Fox is surmising that Mystique was one of the original X-Men, Marvel keeps to the familiar origins of the likes of Thor and Iron Man (though not Ant-Man). The fans of the comics may be in small numbers given modern day sales statistics, but they are a vocal bunch, and they won’t tolerate change for change’s sake. Which is why if you’re a Fantastic Four fan looking forward to the new movie, you probably saw this coming.
Emerging from the site Acting Auditions, there’s a casting call out for the March shoot of The Fantastic Four, the latest adventure of Marvel’s first family, and the first since 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. And the casting call, for Baton Rouge actors (if you’re reading this, prep your resume!), includes a few tidbits that suggests a radically different origin for the Four, completely ditching the 60’s-inspired space race of the comics and earlier films.
Details are vague, but the description suggests "an event" (possibly Earthbound?) changes Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, two 16-year-old best friends. The site also mentions that because of the event Richards "becomes a scientific genius," making his brainpower a supernatural ability akin to his stretching skills as Mr. Fantastic.
The two are then taken by the military and experimented on, to be used as weapons. More shades of director Josh Trank’s obvious affection for Akira, which he revealed in his debut effort, Chronicle. Though it’s not mentioned how, the duo age and eventually come face to face with Sue and Johnny Storm, who also have their own special powers. The only part locked in, according to this site, is Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch (though we already knew that). Other actors said to be testing, according to this site, are Miles Teller, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Kate Mara and Saoirse Ronan, who will all test alongside Jordan for chemistry purposes.
Within this description of the script by Jeremy Slater (with "revisions" by Simon Kinberg), there’s also one curious absence: no Dr. Doom. The Fantastic Four have a ripe rogue’s gallery beyond him, but he’s also one of Marvel’s all-time great baddies, and it seems weird that you wouldn’t have his presence known. Of course, sites like this always report details inaccurately, and it seems unusual that Fox would just let this synopsis hit the net in such a way. Of course, Fox also let Brett Ratner direct X-Men: The Last Stand. There’s not a lot of clear-headed management going on regarding superhero properties.
If this is all true (which would require a major grain of salt), then it would mean major changes to the canon. Which is fine: nothing is sacred, and filmmakers should be free to alter or improve upon what we saw in the comics, because it is a different medium with different needs. That being said, tying Spidey to his dead parents through DNA testing is a very movie thing to do. Taking a major female character and shoehorning her into the early days of Xavier and Magneto is a very movie thing to do. And making the Fantastic Four into government test subjects who, inevitably, break free, is a VERY movie thing to do. We’ve seen it before, countless times. In fact, we saw it in the very first unofficial Fantastic Four back in 1994, when the four crash-land on Earth and are taken by the army and tested. Holy cow, is Fox taking notes from a film that was intentionally buried by its own studio?
It also takes away from the whole "family" aspect if they’re all about the same age (who is the father figure, exactly?) and they don’t meet until later in life. Particularly considering Reed and Ben will have spent a large chunk of their youth being tested and experimented on: how are they supposed to warm up to that sort of trusting relationship with these siblings? Let us know in the comments how you feel about these potential changes to the Fantastic Four.