The true story behind the making of the 2015 reboot Fantastic Four may finally be coming to light at some point in the near future. Maybe. The production of the 20th Century Fox reboot was certainly one of the most publicly troubled of the past decade, as extensive re-shoots significantly reworked the film while rumors swirled about tension with director Josh Trank, who was hired to revitalized the comic book franchise after first making waves with his debut film Chronicle. Ultimately the finished film was a box office flop, bringing in just $167.8 million worldwide, and the reviews weren’t too kind either as the Frankenstein’d version of Fantastic Four suffered from significant structural problems.
A brand new review for Fantastic Four has now arrived, however, and while it’s four years late, it’s one that folks may find of interest: it hails from Trank himself. The filmmaker took to Letterboxd to offer a candid assessment of the movie, hinting towards the aforementioned production problems along the way.
Trank begins by noting he hasn’t seen the movie since two weeks before it came out, adding that at the time he was in “a heavily fucking traumatized state of mind” for reasons he’s saving “for another time.” As for the film itself, Trank is mixed:
Everyone in the film is a great actor, and overall there is a movie in there, somewhere. And that cast deserves to be in THAT movie. Everyone who worked on Fant4stic clearly wanted to be making THAT movie. But…. ultimately… It wasn’t.
Did I make that movie they deserved to be in?
To be honest?
I can’t tell.
What I can tell is there are TWO different movies in one movie competing to be that movie.
Is there a #releasethetrankcut?
I’m not Zack Snyder.
Those two different movies are abundantly clear in the finished film, as Trank had previously teased wanting to craft a full-on body horror movie influenced by the work of David Cronenberg. The studio and producer/writer Simon Kinberg, however, clearly wanted Fantastic Four to be more in line with the existing X-Men franchise, and kind of molded it that way during reshoots (which are easily discerned thanks to the horrendous wig they put on Kate Mara). In the end, there were entire action sequences and extended scenes that appeared in the trailers and behind-the-scenes footage but never showed up in the movie.
Trank goes on to say he doesn’t regret the film, and throws his support behind Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp filmmaker Peyton Reed to direct the next onscreen iteration of the team:
I was 29 years old, making my 2nd film, in a situation more complicated than anything a 2nd time filmmaker should’ve walked into.
That said… I don’t regret any of it.
It’s a part of me.
And I just hope Peyton Reed makes the next Fantastic Four and crushes it. And that I get a cameo.
Anyway, that’s it.
Reed has famously said making Fantastic Four is a dream of his, and now that Fox’s Marvel properties are under the purview of Marvel Studios, many have been hoping that would lead to Reed’s version finally seeing the light of day. But if Fantastic Four is a priority for Marvel Studios, it’s unlikely Reed would direct it—he recently signed on to return to helm Ant-Man 3.
As for the whole Fantastic Four situation, there were so many conflicting stories about what really went on during production, each with their own agenda, that it’s still tough to suss out what actually happened. Was Trank paralyzed by the demands of big studio filmmaking? Did Kinberg unfairly take over the movie? It’s still unclear (although most agree that Kinberg did, at least, end up directing the reshoots), and Trank’s Letterboxd review only hints at those troubles, but if a “Trank Cut” does exist I’d be curious to see it. Just as with Zack Snyder’s unfinished version of Justice League, I’d much rather see the flawed yet artistically pure iteration of a movie rather than the forgettable, studio-meddled vanilla one.
Trank, meanwhile, is in post-production on his long-awaited next film, Fonzo. The film is a uniquely told biopic of Al Capone starring Tom Hardy. A release date hasn’t yet been set, but hopefully that one will arrive sometime next year—at which point Trank will no doubt be asked plenty about what really happened with Fantastic Four.