Fantastic Four Director's Perfect Tweet Reminds Us Superhero Movies Can Fail
Many superhero movies like to emphasize that their characters are flawed but, more often than not, they still save the day and slay at the box office. But not all superheroes win in the end. This weekend, Captain Marvel raced to a $153 million domestic opening, leading at least one pontificator to spout that no superhero movie fails. Well, Josh Trank -- director of the ill-fated 2015 Fantastic Four movie -- had something to say about that:
Burn. On himself. It's true, though. Captain Marvel's domestic gross alone is already almost more than Fantastic Four made during its entire worldwide run. Not that Fantastic Four is the only movie to tank (or Trank?). Still, since he brought it up...
Fantastic Four only made $56,117,548 at the domestic box office and $111,860,048 internationally for a total of $167,977,596 worldwide. That's just four years ago, and it only made $168 million worldwide. That was off a reported production budget of at least $120 million, per Box Office Mojo, and the film was ultimately said to have lost around $100 million.
That's not good.
Captain Marvel has already made $455 million worldwide, and it just opened. And Captain Marvel isn't even the biggest superhero movie of all time. It may or may not follow previous MCU movies and the DC movies that have crossed the $1 billion mark. But clearly it's doing a lot better than Fantastic Four ever did, and it's not a given that any and every superhero movie will succeed. That was the self-deprecating point Josh Trank seemed to be making. Sometimes superhero movies do fail.
Fox's 2015 adaptation of the Marvel Comics characters was panned by both critics and fans. Fantastic Four only has a 9% rating from critics and 18% rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. It got a C- CinemaScore from polled moviegoers. It "won" Razzies for Worst Director; Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel; and Worst Picture (tying with Fifty Shades of Grey).
Fantastic Four was infamously troubled, with Josh Trank reportedly clashing with 20th Century Fox. A lot of blame was put at his doorstep, alleging the director behaved erratically. Trank criticized the final cut right before its release, writing in a later deleted tweet, "A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though."
One of the Fantastic Four producers tried to explain what went wrong, saying it wasn't just one thing. One of the screenwriters also apologized to fans for the movie going wrong.
You could blame lack of interest in Fantastic Four vs. other Marvel characters, but the 2005 Fantastic Four movie -- the one with Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch -- made $330.5 million worldwide. That's not exactly blockbuster level these days, but it was off a reported $100 million production budget. So a modest profit was probably made.
Still, it is pretty rare for major superhero movies to fail these days. The DCEU took a beating from critics for a while -- and there was certainly trouble behind-the-scenes, especially with Justice League -- but even the least successful of the six DCEU movies (Justice League) made $658 million worldwide. Meanwhile, the least successful MCU movie was The Incredible Hulk in 2008, which "only" made $263.5 million worldwide off a reported production budget of $150 million. Halle Berry's Catwoman only made $82.1 million in 2004 (off a reported $100 budget), and Green Lantern also only made $219.8 million worldwide in 2011 (reported $200 million budget).
This is not to restart the never-ending Marvel vs. DC battle. It's just to show it's rare but not unheard of for a superhero movie to flop the way Fantastic Four did. We keep hearing that moviegoers just love superhero movies -- like we'll see anything with a superhero in it -- but it's clearly not that simple. Just let it be a lesson, a reminder, a fear to keep your kids in line. This too could happen to YOU if you don't eat your vegetables and finish your homework.
Now that Fox and Disney are joining forces, and the Fox Marvel characters will fall under Disney's Marvel umbrella, fans are curious to see what might happen with characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
As we wait for updates on that front, keep up with everything that's playing in theaters this year with our handy 2019 movie schedule.
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Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.