Few films last year left a sting like Josh Trank‘s Fantastic Four, the now fourth botched attempt to turn the titanic Marvel property into an entertaining film. I’m not even saying that the film would have to be good, just not painful to endure. Trank’s version is perhaps the most frustrating iteration of the story, involving a quartet of superheroes mutated by the atmosphere of an alien planet, if only because the first half (or so) of the film is so good. Up until the film makes an inexplicable time jump, following the return of the titular team from the alien surface, Fantastic Four was not only the best version of this story to be released thus far but the best film to be adapted from a Marvel property since Shane Black‘s extraordinary Iron Man 3, typified by personal detail and a fascinating, intimate sense of character, especially in Miles Teller‘s Reed Richards and Michael B. Jordan‘s Johnny Storm. Then, as those who have seen the film will attest, the train went off the tracks and never even attempted to get back on course.
Much has been made of who was to blame for this minor catastrophe, with Trank and 20th Century Fox taking the brunt of the grief, but Jordan recently made a point of talking about the failure of Fantastic Four in reasonable terms. Here’s what he had to say, according to IGN:
“I look back at the film as a learning experience. Every film isn’t going to be a home run. Everybody involved didn’t set out to make a film that didn’t work. I think everybody wants to do the best job possible. I think it was a big education for me to realise that things aren’t in your control, and you can do everything you’re supposed to do. You can give 110% every day, and the movie still not work out. But that may or may not be on you and you’ve got to be OK with that. Moving onto the next thing. For me, first thing off I had this project [Creed] coming on right after so it makes it a little bit easier to swallow.”
When pressed as to whether or not he would return for a sequel or a retooling to play Johnny Storm again, he followed up with this:
“I love the character. I’m a big comic book fan, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it in the first place. We’ll see what happens…Johnny Storm is an incredible character. Why not?”
I’ve been of the opinion that the problem with Fantastic Four felt rooted in studio interference from 20th Century Fox, as the script seemed to contort from a relatively small, nuanced film into a hodgepodge of expositional nonsense and empty action spectacle. The dreadful second half of Trank’s film seemed to tease and lay the foundation for a looming plot far from the character-driven turns of the film’s first 45-or-so minutes. If there was an attempt to make a film with the same trajectory as the Trank’s first half, Jordan would be an ideal candidate to further plumb the angry, brash character of Johnny Storm, AKA The Human Torch, and could very well create a character as moving and indelible as Adonis Creed. Other than the planned sequel to Creed, Jordan doesn’t currently have anything on his docket, so the idea wouldn’t be so insane…if Trank’s film hadn’t tanked so hard. Oh well, one can always hold out hope, even if there’s no rhyme or reason to it.