As truly awful as it was, you couldn’t help but see some places where there were definite kernels of good ideas. In fact, Trank did briefly hit the perfect tone for a Fantastic Four film right in the beginning that gave off a definite 80s Spielbergian tone, which would be pitch perfect for the property. Here’s an idea, 20th Century Fox: Give The Duffer Brothers a call.
Some of those ideas can be traced back to earlier drafts of the screenplay which sound amazing. I’ve already written about Jeremy Slater’s draft before, but now the writer has commented directly about what he wrote. Here’s what he told Screen Crush:
“In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone (changed to “Planet Zero” in the film), we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet.
“We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed (see H.E.R.B.I.E. here via Screen Rant). And if you think all of that sounds great… Well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.”
Unfortunately, most of that didn’t make it into the final product, and, according to Slater, only one of the lines he wrote actually made it in with young Reed Richards saying, “Don’t blow up.” (He did get writing credit in the final film). We do know the film was rewritten for budgetary reasons, but I’m still thrown off by why producer Simon Kinberg and director Josh Trank thought it was a good idea to just turn the first act of the original script into an entire film. Slater understands why his sprawling film was cut down for budgetary reasons, and puts it quite bluntly:
“Would you spend $300 million on a Fantastic Four film? Particularly after the previous two films left a fairly bad taste in audiences’ mouths? … It’s understandable that everyone involved would take steps to minimize their risk as much as possible. Unfortunately, those steps probably compromised the film to a fatal degree.
Fantastic Four is a very difficult property to get right, even in the comics. Personally, what Slater wrote sounds much better, but I still think The Duffer Brothers really need to be given a shot after what they pulled off with Stranger Things.