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‘Fantastic Four’ Producer Simon Kinberg Promises Reboot Will Be “Gritty” And “More Realistic”

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Just two years ago a young filmmaker named Josh Trank merged the genres of superhero adventure and found footage – the cinematic equivalent of mixing peanut butter and motor oil that had been used to kill cockroaches – and came away with the marvelous Chronicle. That movie’s unexpected success resulted in Trank becoming attached to several high-profile comic book blockbusters in development, including a Venom feature for Sony Pictures. But the assignment that ultimately claimed his allegiance was the Fantastic Four reboot that has been gestating at 20th Century most likely since the box office grosses for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Screen came trickling in seven years ago.

Only in recent weeks has the project began to gain steam (which is odd given that it has a locked-in released for summer 2015) with the crucial roles being cast and rumors about the rejiggered origin story leaking to the media. One particular question on the minds of longtime fans of Marvel’s First Family is whether the atmosphere of Trank’s FF epic will stay true to the lighthearted fare of the original comics or will the classic characters be presented in a slightly shaded approach common to today’s tentpole franchise heroics.

The reboot’s screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg gave the answer recently at this year’s Wondercon. Continue below to see what he had to say.

“As Singer created with the original ‘X-Men’ movies, Christopher Nolan created with the ‘Dark Knight’ movies, Jon Favreau and Marvel created with the ‘Iron Man’ movies, all the best superhero franchises – Sam Raimi did it with ‘Spider-Man’ – they create a tone and that is the thing that defines them. It’s not the stories that differentiate them from each other. Sometimes the characterizations aren’t that distinct. It’s that the tone is different and in some ways [that’s because of the] lessons learned from the original ‘Fantastic Four’ movies, but also because of Josh Trank’s natural instinct for more realism, for more of a dramatic approach to things. This will definitely be a more realistic, a more gritty, grounded telling of the ‘Fantastic Four’ and no matter what people think about the cast.”

The words “realistic” and “gritty” might cause some alarms to go off with moviegoers sick and tired of superhero flicks that strip away every possible of humor and fun for fear of not being considered cool. It should cause at least one alarm to go off with dictionary aficionados since the two words mean the exact same thing, but that’s beside the point. If the Fantastic Four reboot takes a hint from the current Marvel Studios blueprint for success and creates an authentic, lived-in world for its heroes and villains to occupy and occasionally destroy then it could make the two eminently forgettable movies directed by Tim Story (Ride Along) look worse than the infamous unreleased version from 1994. “Gritty” implies dark, humorless, depressing, but true to life. But another definition for the word is “showing courage and resolve,” and that fits the Four quite suitably. Fox’s X-Men series kept the proceedings light while maintaining that they were set in a parallel universe where mutants were despised, feared, and hunted practically to extinction.

The most crucial element to making a good Fantastic Four movie is the right casting, solid character work, and chemistry between the actors hired to play the titular team. In the comics Reed Richards, Susan Storm, her brother Johnny, and Ben Grimm were colorful individuals gifted with extraordinary abilities and used them to battle evil on our world and countless others, but they still bickered amongst themselves like your average dysfunctional middle-class family. At the end of the day, regardless of their differences, the Four were still there for each other in times of great strife and proved that even with the universe on the brink of total destruction their familial bond would never be shattered. So far Trank has assembled a fine cast of talented young actors such as Miles Teller (Reed/Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Susan/Invisible Woman), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny/Human Torch), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/The Thing), and Toby Kebbell as the team’s greatest nemesis Dr. Doom. The production is off to a good start.

When Richard Donner set out to make Superman: The Movie in 1977 he stressed the importance of verisimilitude – the appearance of being true or real – in every creative facet of the production. This was key to giving the prospective film legitimacy as comic book-based features were long regarded at the time as fodder for camp absurdities that could never be taken seriously. Donner loved the character of Superman and wanted to make sure his biggest silver screen adventure to date was treated with the utmost respect. The only way he knew that could be accomplished would be by taking the Man of Steel and placing him amidst a landscape reminiscent of our own that was relatable to audiences of the late-70s but removed enough from reality that they could suspend their disbelief without feeling insulted.

The risk paid off with a film that was praised by critics and beloved by audiences and remains a high-water mark for major studio productions adapted from popular superhero comics. Filmmakers in the decades since tasked with bringing other iconic characters of the comics to celluloid learned well from Donner’s studious example and the resurgence in interest in superhero movie properties in the past fifteen years primarily resulted from applying that verisimilitude to the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Dark Knight, and the various Marvel Studios franchises.

A grounded Fantastic Four film has the potential to be a smashing success in terms of storytelling acumen, creative execution, and profitability at the ticket counters. It’s important that Trank and his team understand that they are not playing in the shadows here; the characters have always been about the light, the absence of limits when it comes to tapping into human potential and making the galaxy a much better place in which to exist. If they get this one wrong it might not be a complete flop but Trank will see his good standing in the superhero fan community reduced to nothing and the studio will doubtlessly wait a few more years and reboot the property yet again. I would hate to see that happen because Chronicle was one of the best films of 2012 and it showed that its director had the talent and the spirit to make truly amazing films with the proper amount of money, resources, and support.

Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot is opening in the middle of one of the most-crowded and competitive summers at the multiplexes in the history of cinema and will need all the good will it can stand to make its mark while staring down the likes of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, the seventh Fast and the Furious flick, and Terminator: Genesis.

Ready or not, true believers, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four arrives in theaters on June 19, 2015.

[Source: Hitfix]


  1. I’m sure they’ll add lots of shaky camera and lens flare too. These reboots and remakes are just one bad idea after another.

    Comment by OriginalBryGuy — April 22, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

  2. I don’t know about gritty, but it will be darker.

    Comment by remowilliams — April 22, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

  3. I’m pretty sure that’s racist.

    Comment by UNCARING1 — April 23, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

  4. This movie will blow serious chunks.

    Comment by UNCARING1 — April 23, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

  5. Still the cast sucks… I thought they did a recast of the roles.

    Comment by Brady — April 24, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

  6. This movie sounds terrible. Horrible cast, major changes to the cannon. With the success of other Marvel movies, you would think Hollywood would learn its lesson.

    Comment by Ryu Tanaka — May 6, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

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