If you were paying attention to the online chatter about Comic-Con last night—and we don’t blame you if you weren’t—you probably noticed a lot of griping. The consensus seemed to be that 20th Century Fox‘s presentation was underwhelming. Fans were asking where the promotion for “The Fantastic Four” could have been (for that matter, Paramount did not produce any “Terminator: Genesis” promotion). “How hard is it,” the thinking went, “for Paramount or 20th Century Fox to make a poster, a teaser trailer or unveil some costumes?”
Well before this weekend, the studio confirmed that director Josh Trank and his cast—currently shooting in Louisiana—would not appear at Comic-Con. But it looks like someone tried to slightly counter or address the mounting complaints. A mystery Twitter account @justifiedfilms (which has since been deleted) tweeted out a picture of what looks like to be the reference CGI bust of the Thing, played by Jamie Bell, from the film. Of course the image was captured and traversed the world instantly.
This likely means that Bell will be motion-capture performing the character rather than wearing a silly looking suit like Michael Chiklis did in the “Fantastic Four” films from 2005 and 2007 (thank Christ). Is the image legitimate? Well, it looks a good deal like the CGI reference bust for The Hulk used by the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” team. And that single image looks markedly better than any frame of footage from the previous (and unfortunate) “Fantastic Four” films.
Some outlets claim the image is “confirmed,” which if true goes a long way towards explaining how the diminutive Jamie Bell is to portray The Thing. But why no Comic-Con appearance? For one, “Fantastic Four” is on a tight schedule—rather than using up precious shooting days for travel to San Diego, perhaps the filmmakers decided to skip the Con. There’s also been talk that Fox doesn’t have abundant confidence in the film, but that feels like nonsense. There’s a marketing plan in place, and the studio possibly doesn’t wish to unveil costumes in bad Comic-Con stage lighting.
Every studio likes to retain a little mystery with respect to their films, and some studios would rather not beat the drum an entire year ahead of time, especially in the midst of production. There’s also talk that “Fantastic Four” is “off-book”—i.e., not very faithful to the essence of Fantastic Four comic books—which if true virtually guarantees volcanic fan backlash. The decision to skip Comic-Con was likely a confluence of all these forces, timing, readiness, marketing timetables, etc.
You’ll get a taste of “Fantastic Four” eventually; it just won’t be at Comic-Con 2014. “The Fantastic Four” hits theaters on June 19, 2015.