The Fantastic Four, often called "Marvel's First Family", have had not the best time in live-action portrayals. This will be the fourth reboot of the characters, if we count the officially unreleased 1986 film. It is believed by many the film was never intended to actually hit theatres despite a promotional tour and trailers, and the critical reception to the film by those who have reviewed seems to reflect this in their opinion of quality. Fox then subsequently made two Fantastic Four films, released in 2005 and 2007. While I actually enjoyed them both as cheesy, superhero flicks, both films received mixed reviews and Fox did not proceed with neither the third planned film in the series or the Silver Surfer spin off. However in order to retain the rights to the property, 2015 saw the release of a film I will never not refer to as Fant4stic - and the less we talk about the train crash of a film the better we are all for it.
So marred is their film history people have taken to calling The Incredibles the only good Fantastic Four adaptation despite, obviously, not actually being one.
So marred is their film history people have taken to calling The Incredibles the only good Fantastic Four adaptation despite, obviously, not actually being one. It would not be surprising, then, if a lot of people have lost interest in any further revival of these characters. But I for one am actually excited. While Spider-Man has not had as bad a time of it (in fact the first trilogy, along with X-Men, is often cited as being responsible for the revival of the superhero genre), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) has received a large amount of deserved criticism. Then, against all odds at the time, Sony and Disney struck a deal that brought Spidey home - and to a majority of people, Marvel Studios take on the character has been greatly received, with most of the only objections being comparative to either Maguire or Garfield's portrayals.
Personally I wasn't that impressed with Homecoming (2017, but I did like it), but Tom Holland's Spider-Man in Civil War (2016) and the Avengers films have been spectacular, and Far From Home (2019) is probably my favourite Spider-Man adaptation along with Spider-Man 2, Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and the PS4's Spider-Man game. The point being - Marvel properties definitely seem safe within Marvel Studio's hands, and I am confident bringing Fantastic Four home to Marvel will finally give us the Fantastic Four film we deserve.
The only thing we know about the film so far is it will be directed by Jon Watts, who also was responsible for directing the two Marvel Spider-Man films. I admit I was surprised by this as he doesn't strike me as the strongest Marvel director, as much as I liked Far From Home, so I wonder why he was chosen other a different director. Watts will be the only director outside of the Russo brothers to direct direct more than one franchise within Marvel Studios - every other returning director has only returned to direct a sequel.
The dynamic between the four cast members will be crucial to the success, and with both The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy films, Marvel Studios has a successful record with ensemble films.
Of course, maybe this actually makes more sense. While there have been other lead characters in the MCU who have had previous film appearances (specifically Captain America, the Hulk and Doctor Strange), their previous appearances were largely forgettable by the time of their MCU debut (Hulk, 2003 and The Incredible Hulk, 2008, possibly the exception as the latter was intended initially as a soft reboot) whereas the previous film attempts of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four will be clearer in the minds of superhero film fans. It is possible for this reason they want to hand the directorial handle to Watts to recreate what he achieved with Homecoming and Far From Home. Spider-Man has also frequently teamed up with the Fantastic Four in comics and in animated portrayal. And additionally, when I was discussing this on the FILM-SOC Radio Show, one of the presenters also shared his opinion that Jon Watts is a rather 'vanilla' director who has no real distinct style, and the success of the stories is more than not a result of the writing - if this is to be believed, it might be that then Watts was chosen to allow him to act as a proxy director for Marvel Studios, rather than another director who might insist on their own stylistic choices.
More important than the director however, for a Fantastic Four film, is the cast. With the film in development, nothing has been released yet on the casting, but it once it will there will be no doubt an excruciating amount of clickbait articles discussing the decisions. The dynamic between the four cast members will be crucial to the success, and with both The Avengers (2012) and The Guardians of the Galaxy films, Marvel Studios has a successful record with ensemble films. After all, what is a lead cast of four when Endgame (2019) featured over 30.
I think the success of this film will be very important for Marvel Studios. Despite their success, their longevity might also serve to be a double-edged sword as many people may believe Endgame and the end of Phase 3 are good stepping off points for the ten plus year old narrative. Having retired the lead core characters from The Infinity Saga, and drawing attention to the newer characters, there is the risk of reduced interest. It is possible a successful Fantastic Four film may serve to act as a new entry point to the franchise, after the original starting off point of Iron Man (2008). Even more importantly, it might serve to give Marvel Studios confidence to reboot the X-Men franchise and finally bring the one remaining huge element of Marvel back home.
Feature Image Credit: All IMDb