Josh Trank “F-ing Hated” Idea of Making Fantastic Four Reboot Like Marvel’s The Avengers

Fantastic Four director Josh Trank "f—ing hated" suggestions the 2015 reboot should use Marvel Studios blockbuster The Avengers as a template, according to co-writer Jeremy Slater. The Chronicle director's vision for Fant4stic — teaming Miles Teller's stretchy Reed Richards, Michael B. Jordan's fiery Johnny Storm, Kate Mara's invisible Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell's rocky Ben Grimm against Toby Kebbell's vengeful Victor Von Doom — was a David Cronenberg-like body horror unlike standard comic book fare, putting a greater emphasis on the pre-superpowers story over Slater's recommendations for comic-booky elements like the inclusion of Fantastic Four foe Mole Man and a post-credits teaser setting up Galactus and his cosmic-powered herald, the Silver Surfer.

"The end of the Fantastic Four was going to very organically set up the adventure and the weirdness and the fun. That would be the wish fulfillment of the sequel," Trank told Polygon ahead of new Tom Hardy-starring movie Capone. "Because obviously, the sequel would be, 'OK, now we are [superpowered] forever and it's weird and funny and there's adventure lurking around every corner.' But the first movie was going to basically be the filmic version of how I saw myself all the time: the metaphor of these characters crawling out of hell."

Unlike Trank — described as having a "general distaste" for comic book movies, having only seen a handful of episodes of the 1990s Fantastic Four animated series — Slater was a superhero fan who pushed for a tone and feel more reflective of the comic books.

"The first Avengers movie had recently come out, and I kept saying, 'That should be our template, that's what audiences want to see!'" Slater said of the crowd-pleasing blockbuster that became the first Marvel Studios movie to gross more than a billion dollars. "And Josh just f—ing hated every second of it."

The troubles of developing a reboot of Fox's two-movie Fantastic Four franchise "had everything to do with tone," Trank added. "You could take the most 'comic booky' things, as far as just names and faces and identities and backstories, and synthesize it into a tone. And the tone that [Slater] was interested in was not a tone that I felt I had anything in common with."

The director grew less interested once the characters found themselves endowed with superhuman abilities following an encounter with cosmic energy on Planet Zero, which is about as far as Trank was willing to go in terms of "comic book."

Slater recalled, "It didn't matter if they were fighting robots in Latveria or aliens in the Negative Zone or Mole Monsters in downtown Manhattan; Josh just did not give a sh-t."

"I feel like I get Mole Man," Trank countered. "He's angry and undermined by the system."

But the underground dwelling Mole Man, who commands a legion of skyscraper-tall monsters, was among the more fantastic characters who never saw the light of day: Slater penned an estimated 2,000 pages across 18 drafts, 16 of which never made it to the higher-ups at Fox.


Slater previously revealed unused ideas from his many versions of Fantastic Four, including drafts taking the team into the Negative Zone against supervillain Annihilus, a more fully-formed Doctor Doom declaring war on the world outside Latveria — where the metal-fisted dictator ruled with an army of Doombots — as well as versions that included Marvel Comics classics like the Fantasti-car and cute robot sidekick H.E.R.B.I.E.

Fantastic Four opened in August 2015, grossing just $167 million worldwide on a reported budget of $120 million.