Most superhero fans are aware of the disastrous reception 2015’s Fantastic Four received both critically and commercially. Now the third lowest-rated Marvel or DC film of all time, according to Rotten Tomatoes, it served as a cautionary tale of studio mismanagement and creative differences. Doctor Doom star Toby Kebbell recently reflected on the filming process, admitting the production was a “victim of timing,” and “bad leadership.” Director Josh Trank has also weighed in on the film in the past, offering some insight on what happened.
The behind-the-scenes drama of Fantastic Four has been the source of much speculation over the years. Despite Trank offering some insight into the matter in the years following its release, Kebbell has largely stayed quiet on the drama. That is until now.
In a new interview with Forbes, the actor opened up about the development of the project. He said: “You know, I’ll be entirely honest… I don’t think we were a victim of timing, I think we were a victim of bad leadership and organization. I mean in charge, in charge, not people creating and working on set…So there were unfortunate things. In Hollywood, you can’t ever speak ill and I’m not doing that, I’m just saying while I was there, there was a lot more that could have been done to make that a better thing.”
He then added that one aspect the studios have kept getting wrong is the character of Doctor Doom, the Fantastic Four’s main archnemesis. The star continued: “There’s fans for it. I truly believe it. I think Doom… I truly believe Doom is an awesome villain, he’s an excellent villain and they kind of always just do something goofy with it. It’s a shame, it’s a shame. I honestly feel that way. I wouldn’t have gone into it thinking, ‘Ah, this is going to be another terrible movie.’ I thought they had that. At that time Marvel was already the Apex predator, it was already the one to beat, they were already the people to try to do the thing with.”
He added: “Why that effort wasn’t put in, I don’t know. But, yeah I know none of those people will call me back to work with them, so the truth as I see it is that more could have been done by the powers that be. So I hope, I truly hope, that someone does create a great version because I truly believe… I’m a big fan of Doom as a character. He’s awesome. So, yeah. I hope they do it just right.”
Ahead of the film’s release, The Hollywood Reporter said sources had informed them of “erratic” behaviour on set and Trank becoming “very isolated” during the shoot. They claimed the director hid away from the rest of the crew and didn’t offer help or advice for large portions of the filming process.
The sources also claimed that Trank was renting a house in New Orleans during the shoot. The filmmaker, who had several small dogs that were left in the property unattended, allegedly caused as much as $100,000 in damages.
He was brought on board to oversee the film following his success with Chronicle, the 2012 indie superhero hit that grossed over $120,000 at the box office.
In 2020, he was promoting his latest film Capone starring Tom Hardy. During his promotional tour of the film, the director was asked about his regrets with Fantastic Four.
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Speaking to Den of Geek, he said: “I don’t regret it because it happened and it led me to where I am. If there’s such a thing as destiny or fate, it is what it is and I’d rather continue to go down this interesting path and see where it leads me…that’s life, and we make choices, we’ve got to stick by them and learn from them and become better, more evolved people because of it.”
The aftermath of the film was summed up in an infamous Tweet by the filmmaker. It came on August 7, 2015, mere hours before the premiere of his doomed project. Trank wrote: “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this, and it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.” (sic)
After the release of Capone in 2020, which was equally berated, Trank has not announced or been involved in any other projects as a director according to his IMDb profile. However, he is attached to The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt as one of the writers of the film. It is set to explore the formative years of the 26th President of the United States.
Disney’s Marvel Studios now have the rights to Fantastic Four after the studio’s merger with Fox. The MCU version of the superhero team are yet to be cast but are getting a movie as early as 2023 directed by Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Jon Watts. Hopefully, Marvel’s first family will finally get the film adaptation they deserve.