Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg Talks THE FANTASTIC FOUR, Post-Converting to 3D, the Grounded Tone, and Writing Towards the Sequels

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We’re only five months into 2014, but we’ve already seen two big superhero films swing into theaters and we’ve got another massive franchise poised to open in a matter of weeks: X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Steve recently attended the press day for the X-Men “in-betweenquel”, and during his interview with screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg the conversation also touched on another superhero property that Kinberg is involved with: The Fantastic Four.

As screenwriter and producer on director Josh Trank’s reboot of the Marvel comic, Kinberg has been intimately involved in the development of the 20th Century Fox project.  While speaking with Steve, he confirmed that the film will be post-converted to 3D and discussed which aspects of the pic lend themselves to three-dimensions.  He also talked about how Trank’s specific tone stayed constant throughout the film’s development process, and touched on how writing the pic with an eye towards the sequels affected his approach to the characters.  Read on after the jump.

the-fantastic-four-movie-rebootFor those unfamiliar with the project, we know that the Fantastic Four reboot takes place in present day with a cast led by Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch, Kate Mara as Invisible Girl, Jamie Bell as Thing, and Toby Kebbell as the villainous Dr. Doom, with Tim Blake Nelson and Reg E. Cathey taking on supporting roles.

As filming on The Fantastic Four just got underway four days ago, Steve asked Kinberg about the first few days of filming:

“The energy on set is great.  Josh Trank is fantastic on set.  Really in command, really clear, and the thing that is most unique or defining about the new Fantastic Four is the tone.  We’re approaching it in a much more realistic, grounded, science rather than science-fiction way.  The playfulness or goofiness of those other movies is very, very different from what we’re trying to do, and that is true for the production design, the casting, the storytelling.  But you never know until you get on set how it’s all gonna start to feel, and just seeing those actors and seeing Josh, the way he’s articulating the tone and the way the actors are executing it gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll actually be able to make a cool Fantastic Four movie.”

As almost every big studio tentpole today is released in 3D, Steve asked Kinberg if this would be the case with The Fantastic Four.  He answered affirmatively, but revealed they will be post-converting to 3D instead of shooting natively in the format:

“We’re definitely imagining the story in 3D as we’re making it, and it has powers that are well-suited to telling the story in 3D—not just Reed, but you have somebody that is on fire, and that’s something that can be immersive and scary.  The reason to use 3D in this Fantastic Four, I think, is to make the experience feel as immersive as possible, where you feel like you’re with the characters looking at themselves and looking at each other with these bizarre powers and feeling like they’re really interacting with you.”

fantastic-four-movie-rebootTrank became attached to direct The Fantastic Four some time ago, and it’s no secret that the script went through a considerable amount of development before production finally began.  Since Kinberg came on to the project last year, Steve asked him how much changed from the initial idea to the version of the film that they’re now shooting:

“I think everyone was on the same page about the approach to the story in terms of wanting it to feel like it had the tone that Josh was very clear about, which is real, grounded, dramatic.  How we executed that changed as everything changes when you’re revising and rewriting a script, and I think in some ways I caught up to Josh’s tone.  He had such a clear idea for what the tone of the movie was gonna be, and I learned it and then executed it on the page.  I think we all were very committed to this version of Fantastic Four, the specifics of how the story evolved and stuff like that was like it is on any normal movie.”

Though The Fantastic Four doesn’t hit theaters until next summer, Fox has already dated a sequel for July 14, 2017.  Steve asked Kinberg if knowing that the follow-up is dated makes a difference in the writing process:

“Well I think with a lot of these movies you have a sense that if it goes well you’re going to make another one.  If it’s a terrible disaster I don’t know that you ever get a shot no matter what the date is, but they have a lot of confidence in the movie and we have confidence in the movie.  And what I like about it is, as a writer you can start to think about, ‘Well what am I building toward?’

That’s the thing that Marvel’s done so well, that’s what George Lucas did so brilliantly with Star Wars, the originals.  He started telling a story in Episode IV and he had a clear sense of what the backstories were and all of that.  You want to tell a coherent, complete story in each movie, but you can also start to think about and build toward how these characters evolve five years from now, ten years from now, and that’s just a cool way to tell a story.  It’s not that different as a sort of episodic storytelling than what comics do or what our favorite TV shows do.  You get to project beyond the two hours of the movie.”

fantastic-four-reboot-imageThough exactly how much of the Star Wars franchise was mapped out when Lucas made A New Hope is up for debate, it is indeed becoming common for studios to develop franchise films that are more episodic in nature rather than close-ended, one-off films.  Kinberg said that knowing there will be sequels is actually an asset that he takes advantage of in the writing process:

“I think actually in some cases what it helps me do as a writer is it forces me to ask certain questions I may not do if I was just telling a one-off movie.  Meaning I have to ask questions of, ‘What is this gonna mean to them when they’re 30, 40, 50 years old?  Who are these characters going to become?’ because hopefully I’ll be writing them in three years, five years, seven years from now.  But those are not necessarily always questions you ask yourself when you’re telling a standalone movie, you sometimes are just like, ‘Who are they in the span of the three weeks this movie takes place?’ or ‘Who were they in the 30 years of their lives that preceded it?’ but you don’t really think past the confines of that film. I think there is an opportunity in this kind of storytelling when you can tell a bigger story, and you can actually even deepen each story by having it project across lots of episodes.”

Watch the full portion of Steve’s interview with Kinberg regarding The Fantastic Four below, and look for more from the writer/producer here on Collider in the coming days.  The Fantastic Four opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.


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  • Marcelo Guido Vitulli Giunta

    I really liked Chronicle, and even though it sounds like they don’t get that FF are supposed to be fun and not gritty, I hope Trank surprises me.

    Jordan is a cool actor, but they will have to give a real purpose for the new dynamic they are auto imposing to themselves.

  • Not every story is batman

    If I hear any more of these clowns talk about how “grounded” and “gritty” their movie is, I am seriously going to lose my shit.

    • Strong Enough

      i think we have more of a problem with super hero movies being too funny nowadays. Avengers totally threw out that gritty realism shit when it made a billie. Marvel movies are more like comedies than they are thrilling. i swear if another marvel movie has another stupid bait joke ama lose my shit.

      “Ask LAURA OUT FROM STATISTICS! WADDA DO FRIDAY NIGHT??!” YA WANT SWARMA? I KNOW A GOOD SWARMA PLACE BLAH BLAH BLAH!”

      • StrongBad

        So I take it you prefer overly depressing CGI destruction fests with terrible dialogue and non-coherent stories, found in films like Transformers and Man of Steel? Have fun with those idiotic snoozefests

      • Strong Enough

        No. I think Winter Soldier had a nice balance. I was actually on the edge of my seat for a few scenes. Finally a marvel movie that made me clenched my butthole a few times. But those jokes. Not even you can defend that mindless banter written between cap and widow just to make some “dude” chuckle in his seat.

        “OH I CAN RELATE TO THAT JOKE. THIS IS AWESOME.” smh

      • StrongBad

        Sure some jokes work better than others, but I had absolutely no problem with any of them in Cap 2. None of them were cringeworthy like in Thor 2 or IM3. Still, even Marvel’s worst movies are leagues better than anything Fox or Sony puts out, with the lone exceptions being First Class and Spider-man 2. Everything else plays second fiddle in my mind

      • Strong Enough

        I agree. Like i said Winter soldier had a perfect balance of it. it is so far my favorite movie of the year. it just sometimes feels like they want to wedge the joke in there so bad they are willing to put it in the most weird scenes. but thats just me

      • ScratStitch

        You “lose your shit” over everything, troll.

      • Strong Enough

        why so butthurt? Just an opinion

      • James franco

        He’s gay for Nolan that’s why

      • Not every story is batman

        I agree the shwarma thing was stupid, but I really enjoy the comedy attempts even Iif they misfire once in a while. It is a comic book movie after all. These stories aren’t all doom and gloom. It can be right for certain stories (batman is just a normal person and he has a dark past as well as setting so it worked) but the whole grounded and gritty thing is played out to death.

      • Strong Enough

        It is already played out. Avengers took care of that. Now every comic movie is a comedy instead of being thrilling. Notice simon said grounded (like Cap and Iron man are) and not gritty and dark

      • JBug

        I was thinking the same thing. I’m thankful he didn’t mention the word gritty. I think there is a fine line between gritty and grounded. Chronicle was grounded without being gritty. Batman happened to have been grounded and gritty. I think studios got carried away with the gritty aspect of batman, assuming it was the reason for the massive success, and is forcing a bunch of movies into the same style. I think grounded can work with this and if it is as refreshing as chronicle was, I think it’ll be great. My optimism over this project has increased slightly.

      • Foxverine and the Foxmen

        Totally disagree. They have humor in them but by no means are out and out comedies. I seriously think every Marvel Productions film has been leaps and bounds better than anything Sony or Fox have mustered up. None of the adaptations are spot on, but Marvel knows their own characters so much better…and actually respects them for the most part. They get the tone just right for epic comic book adaptations. FF is definitely a franchise that should be under their umbrella. No doubt in my mind they would make an EPIC FF movie that’s true to the characters. I have no idea what this new reboot will end up like, but from the rumors I’ve heard (which could be complete BS, but still) this movie is not going to resemble the FF of the comics…regular or ultimate versions…at all. Also just despise the casting of Reed. Way too young…and he also seems like a complete douche. Who knows. Maybe this will rock. But I’d bet good money this is going to be a sad state of affairs for true FF fans.

      • Strong Enough

        hey we all have opinions. i respect yours. I think Winter Soldier was the perfect balance of what they are trying to achieve. And with Joss saying Age of Ultron will be a little darker here is hoping for a more thrilling avengers

      • Strong Enough

        hey we all have opinions. i respect yours. I think Winter Soldier was the perfect balance of what they are trying to achieve. And with Joss saying Age of Ultron will be a little darker here is hoping for a more thrilling avengers

  • brNdon

    We are taking this idea of four people who are way too young to be traveling into space in the first place, zapping them with cosmic radiation granting them super powers, and really grounding it in reality…

    Morons.

  • Johnny Storm

    Can’t wait for this movie to bomb. Absolutely nobody cares about this movie after those two terrible FF movies. 2015 summer is way too crowded as well, so this movie will get smashed by Jurrassic World the week prior, Pixar’s Inside Out (releasing the same day), Ted 2 the following week, then Terminator: Genesis the following week. Yeah, all of those films are guaranteed #1 Box office winners over F*cktastic Four.

    So, welcome back to your rightful homes Marvel’s first family!
    Fox can go Fox themselves

    • billz

      Is there seriously enough outcry to justify another Fox version of FF?
      Fans of the comics may go, but the average moviegoer is going avoid this IMO.

    • billz

      Is there seriously enough outcry to justify another Fox version of FF?
      Fans of the comics may go, but the average moviegoer is going avoid this IMO.

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  • Foxverine and the Foxmen

    That dude seriously blows.

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  • Shayne Thomas

    Fox is only making this movie so they can light a black guy on fire on the big screen. In 3D. Racists.

  • Shayne Thomas

    I think that most people really don’t even care about this movie at this point. I’m pretty sure this will be a flop. I hope so. Fox sucks. I can’t wait to see them drop the ball again.

  • Django9000

    The science of a guy whose skin turns into Rock, a flying man on fire & a man who defies all physics and biology to stretch like a rubber band- plus an invisible girl.

    Are they still planning on making toys based off this stuff because if kids can’t watch it, it’ll just be ridiculous. I like Josh Trank but just can’t imagine a humor less fantastic four. Then throw in the Mole Man & Doc Doom … trying to picture a Bryan singer like take on it isn’t even working right in my head. Let’s hope the science he refers to is off the wall enough to make this appealing.

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