20th Century Fox‘s “Fantastic Four” reboot has been all but out of sight aside from a few small leaks. For fans, the movie not appearing at Comic-Con this year was a controversial move, leading many skeptics to believe director Josh Trank (“Chronicle“) and Fox lack the confidence to show off the film early.
But the picture emerging in recent interviews is that “Fantastic Four” may very well be a vastly different beast from the comics and may need a careful narrative of adjustment for fan expectation. For one, Miles Teller, who plays Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, recently claimed the movie is, “different in every way” from past versions, and suggested that Trank had to really sell Fox on his take. That included atypical casting choices, like changing Johnny Storm’s race from Caucasian to African American after casting Michael B. Jordan as the Johnny Storm/Human Torch.
“I ended up meeting Josh [Trank] a year before and the script was going through some stuff,” Teller told MTV recently.”Then I tested for the role of Reed Richards; I think I’m the only person that did. But absolutely, it took a lot of convincing. For me with Reed Richards, I know Josh [Trank] really had to [pull for me]. Josh did for all of the characters. For Jamie [Bell], he really vouched for [him]. For [Jordan], he was like, ‘This is my guy’ from the bat. He was very specific on who he wanted to play these characters. I was his guy for it.”
In a separate interview, Jordan brushed off the criticism leveled at the film for changing the race of an iconic character.
“I don’t think about it. Can’t make everybody happy,” Jordan said when asked by the New York Daily News about his role as the new Human Torch. “I loved comic books. Japanese animation, cartoons, so to be able to play a character that I always fantasized about and always wanted to be — to have powers and stuff like that — and to be a part of Marvel’s family, it’s a huge deal for me. I’ve known about this character and playing this role for almost two and a half years now. So when I get all these new questions about how I’m feeling about it, I’m like, ‘You know, I’m feeling pretty good about it.’”
Obviously, the studio eventually saw eye to eye with the director. “It’s something that we kind of willed to happen, which was really important to me and Josh [Trank],” Jordan said. “We’re lucky we had a studio behind us that really supported our ambition and our want for change. Now we have something really epic.”
The actor also addressed the differences of this “Fantastic Four” from the comics and the previous films, sayingig cornball costumes won’t be part of this iteration. “I think we did a really good job at making it modern, new, fresh without going to the cheesy superhero outfits,” he said. “We didn’t take the easy way out at all. So I didn’t mind it so much. [This take on The Human Torch] is a reflection of the times we live in right now. It reflects the world that everyone lives in right now.”
In an interview with Vulture, Teller again stressed how dissimilar this film will be to the Tim Story version from the early aughts. “The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — ‘X-Men: First Class‘ is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of ‘Dick Tracy,’ kitschy, overly comic-book world.”
Lip service? Will it be all that different for the casual moviegoer? Originally scheduled for June, 2015, “The Fantastic Four” is set for release on August 7, 2015, which means it’ll likely appear at Comic-Con next July. The movie also stars Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing and Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom/Doctor Doom, along with appearances by Reg E. Cathey and Tim Blake Nelson. Watch the Teller interview below.