As important as their legacy is in the history of Marvel Comics, the superhero group known as the Fantastic Four has not had a terribly great run in the movie industry. The characters’ big screen debut came back in 1994 when Roger Corman produced a Fantastic Four film that was actually never supposed to be seen by the public, and then in 2005 and 2007 they got Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - two critically-panned blockbusters that were ultimately unable to inspire the effort to create a full trilogy.
That bad run may soon finally come to an end, however.
20th Century Fox is in the process of rebooting the Fantastic Four movie franchise with a whole new direction and cast, and the finished product promises to be one of the biggest films of 2015. But what do we know about the project so far? Who are all of the players involved? What does the future of the franchise hold? To answer all of your questions, we’ve put together this latest installment of our What We Know So Far guides.
The StoryWe’ve been following The Fantastic Four movie reboot through years of development, but if you think all that time has yielded any concrete information about the film’s plot, then you are going to be sadly disappointed. Newcomer Jeremy Slater penned the first versions of the screenplay, but the project has gone through multiple hands since, including those of Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows) and, most recently, Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past). There has been some suggestion that the movie will be heavily influenced by the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics that premiered in 2004 and put the titular team in a more modern context, but that has yet to be confirmed by the studio.
Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr. FantasticIoan Gruffudd created a mature, older version of Mr. Fantastic for the big screen starring in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four and 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but Josh Trank’s take on the character will have him be just a tad bit different. Miles Teller – who is 27 and a full five years younger than Gruffudd was when he took on the role – has been tapped to become the next actor to play Reed Richards. We can assume that he will have the same stretchy superpowers and genius intellect as the hero we know from the comics, but it will be interesting to see how age will affect his attitude and disposition. Teller has gotten rave reviews from critics doing movies like The Spectacular Now and the upcoming Whiplash, and we can’t wait to see what he does with the character.
Sue Storm a.k.a. Invisible WomanKate Mara got her first taste of comic book movie playing a bit role as a U.S. Marshal in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, but now she’s ready to step up to the big game. The actress has been chosen to be the next performer to bring Susan Storm a.k.a. Invisible Woman to the big screen, following in the footsteps of Jessica Alba’s interpretation in the last two Fantastic Four movies. Specific details about the portrayal have not been released yet, but we fully expect that she will still be Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch’s sister and have powers that not only allow her to turn invisible, but also to generate force fields.
Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human TorchAll of the Fantastic Four movie casting thus far has been seen as controversial, but none more so than Josh Trank’s selection to play Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch. In the comics, the character – who has pyrokenetic powers and the ability to fly – has always been drawn as Caucasian, but playing him in the new big screen movie will be Chronicle’s Michael B. Jordan. Presumably either Johnny or Susan will be adopted in this new version of the superhero story, but we also don’t expect race to play any kind of role in the movie beyond that. Given Jordan’s track record, what we will probably see is the same excitable, fun-loving Human Torch that we’ve come to appreciate over the last half-century.
Ben Grimm a.k.a. The ThingHulky actor Michael Chiklis was the last actor to bring Ben Grimm to the big screen – partially because they needed somebody big enough to fill out the practically-made orange rock costume, but the upcoming reboot is going in a much different direction.Jamie Bell, who many of us still remember as little Billy Elliot, has been selected to play the gruff, nearly-indestructible, lovable superhero known as The Thing. We’re still not 100% sure how this new incarnation of The Fantastic Four will be bringing the character to life, but Bell’s casting actually does provide a bit of insight. Not only was the British actor on set to watch Andy Serkis transform into an ape in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, but he actually got to strap on a performance capture suit of his own to star in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. Basically, expect Josh Trank’s film to be the first to feature a motion-capture Thing.
Dr. DoomThough he was announced as being part of the cast only weeks after the main four had been confirmed, Toby Kebbell has been hired to be the next actor to bring the legendary villain Dr. Doom to life. Much like all of the other characters, we don’t know how The Fantastic Four will be altering the origin story, but comic book fans know the tyrannical antagonist as the leader of the fictional country Latveria who also happens to have a genius intellect, incredible fighting skills, and technopathic abilities. He will be the central villain of the reboot, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have some help…
The DirectorDirector Josh Trank proved to have a pretty good eye for superhero action directing the low-budget found footage film Chronicle back in 2012, and the extreme success of that movie resulted in lightbulbs clicking on in the minds of the executives over at 20th Century Fox. About six months after Chronicle’s release, the studio officially announced that they had put Trank in charge of the future of the Fantastic Four reboot. The project has had its fair share of ups and downs in the past few years under his leadership, but now the project is finally ready to head into production.
DoombotsRemember what I was saying about Dr. Doom being a technopath? Well, there is no better illustration of this ability than the power he exerts over the Doombots – the army of robots that are exact replicas of their creator. It’s only a rumor at this point, but there have been reports that The Fantastic Four movie reboot will be the first movie to bring the Doombots to live-action. At this stage in the game it’s hard to separate the fact from the speculation, but who doesn’t want to see the Fantastic Four battle an army of robots on the big screen?
The Fantastic Four 220th Century Fox has some very, very big plans for The Fantastic Four movie, and for evidence of that you need look no further than their upcoming release schedule. In addition to penciling in Josh Trank’s movie for June 19, 2015, they have also already announced that The Fantastic Four 2 is going to be ready for theaters on July 14, 2017. It’s hard to say if the studio is very excited about what they are working on, or if they are just desperate to get a superhero cinematic universe off the ground, but regardless of the reason we will be seeing a lot of the Fantastic Four over the next few years.
Fantastic Four Vs. X-MenBecause 20th Century Fox holds the rights to both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, there has always been the possibility that the two comic book properties could unite in a shared Cinematic Universe (a la what Marvel Studios has been doing), and it now looks like that film could be on the way. At the same time as their announcement of release dates for both the Fantastic Four and Wolverine sequels, Fox also confirmed that they have a mystery movie in the works scheduled for July 13, 2018, and it has been heavily rumored that the project could be the studio’s version of The Avengers. Sadly 2018 is still a long way off, but we are bound to hear a lot more rumor and speculation about it between now and then, so stay tuned!