Since its disastrous commercial and critical reception, a lot has been said about what went wrong with Joshua Trank's Fantastic Four reboot. But now Max Landis, who wrote Trank's directorial debut Chronicle as well as an unused treatment for Fantastic Four, is weighing in.
“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,” Landis told The Daily Beast. “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.”
Landis’s concept drew inspiration from other another superhero film success story.
“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.”
As for the FF’s nemesis, Victor Von Doom, Landis had plans that strayed from the comic book version 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 f---ed up and shows up in the Doctor Doom armor. But then in the third movie he’s like, ‘What have you done to me?’”
On the day of Fantastic Four's release, Landis tweeted the first four pages of his unused script - a script he wrote for 50 pages before Fox turned down his pitch.
In celebration of the release of Fantastic 4, here's the first 4 pages of a Fantastic 4 script I wrote 4 years ago... pic.twitter.com/izKR96G67G— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) August 10, 2015
Max Landis has a strong reputation in comic book circles. His video about "The Death and Return of Superman" resonated strongly with fans, and his nascent superhero film Chronicle showed his strong sense for twisting comic book tropes. He's even done actual comic book work, with his latest mini-series, Superman: American Alien, coming soon from DC Comics.
At this point, speculation about what Fantastic Four could have been is irrelevant, though the franchise's future is still very much in question. But Landis's account has added yet another wrinkle to the ongoing story of just what happened with the Fantastic Four reboot.