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After nearly two weeks in theaters, Fantastic Four is a bonafide flop, both critically and commercially. What’s worse is that the film didn’t have to turn out that way. Around the same time that Josh Trank was hired as director, 20th Century Fox recruited Jeremy Slater to write the first draft, but in 2014, Simon Kinberg rewrote most of Slater’s script. Unfortunately, thanks to some new information, it sounds like it might have been a much better film than the final product.
According to Birth.Movies.Death., the first act of Fantastic Four in this script moved similarly to the first act of the theatrical film, but there were still many notable differences. While in the theatrical film it’s obvious that Reed Richards and Ben Grimm are good friends, it’s made explicitly clear in this draft that Ben is Reed’s protector. This is why Reed wanted to bring him on the mission to the Negative Zone (changed to Planet Zero in the film) even though their relationship is on the rocks. Victor von Doom is still involved with the mission, but he is also feeding intel to spies from his home country, Latveria. Rather than be part of the main team, Johnny Storm is instead called in by his sister Sue to help out in the control center while the mission is underway. We also meet Harvey Elder (changed to Harvey Allen in the film), who is experimenting with artificial life, a.k.a. the Moloids, and is later transformed into the Mole Man.
If you thought those differences were drastic enough, when they get to the Negative Zone things get even wilder. When Reed, Ben, and Victor arrive in the parallel world, they discover a long dead alien civilization, and right there to greet them is Galactus. That’s right, Marvel’s world eater, and this time around he was an actual giant man rather than a space cloud. Galactus seemingly kills Victor with a blast of Dark Matter, and while Reed and Ben are able to get back to their module, Galactus hits the quantum gate they came through with Dark Matter as well, thus granting powers to the two people traveling through it and the two people back in the lab.
The film then jumps ahead four years and follows up on what each of the heroes have been up to on their own. Eventually they resolve their differences with one another to join forces against Victor von Doom, who survived Galactus’ attack and was retrieved by the Latverian government after they built their own quantum gate. Aided with new Dark Matter powers, troops armed with futuristic weapons, and Elder’s Moloids, Doom’s endgame (other than to kill Marvel’s First Family) is to build a cannon that he’ll shoot through the quantum gate to destroy Galactus before the world eater can devour Earth. The superhero team is able to stop Doom’s plan with the help of Herbie the robot and the FantastiCar, but they discover that not only is the real Doom still trapped in the Negative Zone (the one they battled was a Doombot), but Galactus is also still coming, thus setting up a sequel or two.
You can browse through the original article to delve into the intricacies of Fantastic Four’s first draft, but needless to say, it sounds like it would have been much more exciting than what moviegoers got, though it would have had to have been trimmed down to not feel overpacked. Still, with Galactus, Mole Man, and other teases, there was more than enough material to build a whole series around. Obviously this story isn’t perfect, but compared to the film we got, it would have been preferable and felt like an actual superhero adventure.
Despite the poor reception of Fantastic Four, Fox is still committed to keeping this iteration of the franchise going, and Fantastic Four 2 is currently slated for release on June 9, 2017.