READ MORE: “It Was Chaos”: More Behind-The-Scenes Tales From ‘Fantastic Four’ Emerge
You’ve seen the news, so there’s no reason to go into detail about just how much of a cluster-you-know-what Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four” has proven to be, both at the box office and otherwise. The litany of articles that have peppered the interwebs over the past week detailing the whole ordeal are fast becoming just as overdrawn and boring as the film itself.
Besides, they all miss the point. The movie, nay, the entire franchise has been doomed for over 30 years.
Producer Bernd Eichinger met with Stan Lee to discuss the option for a film based off his comic way back in 1983 and, ever since then, the whole project has smelled like a steaming hot bucket of Thing Sauce. “Fantastic Four” entered a vicious cycle where it would sit around with no attention for whole years at a time, until Fox was forced to make a terrible, quickly put together film or lose the rights. With Trank’s latest incarnation this has now happened not once, not twice, but three times.
The biggest problem with “Fantastic 4” is that not one person involved, in the entire history of its conception, has ever actually wanted to make a good movie. Well…that may not be entirely true.
Enter B-Movie god Roger Corman.
In 1992, unable to secure funding for the big-budget superhero film he would have liked to make, Eichinger somehow got Corman to agree to make the film on a miniscule $1 million budget. If anyone could’ve pulled this off, it was definitely Corman. He assembled an enthusiastic cast and crew eager to make a name for themselves in what would’ve surely been a blockbuster tentpole film in today’s day and age (or, uh, then again, maybe not).
What happened next was close to 400 times as tragic as anything Trank could’ve experienced on his set. About a year after a chaotic 25-day shoot, the love and dedication of a group of hardworking, underpaid artists came to fruition in a film that was actually pretty damn good for what they were given. The above trailer was released in theaters, a premiere date was set for January 1994 and then…Eichinger informed Corman the film would never see the light of day.
In an interview in 2005, Stan Lee insisted that from day one, the movie was never supposed to be shown to anybody. It had only gone into production as a way for Eichinger to retain rights to the characters. At one point during its filming in 1993, future Marvel Studios founder Avi Arad was so worried the B-movie would damage his brand he actually paid Eichinger “a couple million dollars in cash” to have all prints of the film destroyed without ever even having seen any of the footage.
Eichinger would then go on to secure a $90 million dollar budget for the 2004 “Fantastic Four” (note the decade mark, signaling an impending loss of rights) and a $130 million budget for the equally mediocre “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” in 2007. Turkeys. The both of them.
Plain and simple, this is a franchise that has been built off profit and greed. For that reason, we’ve never gotten the “Fantastic Four” movie we deserve. The only remotely good version ever made will never been seen in theaters.
So skip the new one and watch it here instead.