Ah, yes, here we are again. Even after failing to maintain audience interest and enthusiasm for a comic book film franchise, the studio that owns the rights to the characters is rushing to crank out a reboot lest those rights transfer back to the original owners/creators of said characters. The same thing happened when Fox reborqueled the X-Men with X-Men: First Class, and when Sony completely abandoned Sam Rami’s Spider-Man in favor of the all new, all not-so-different Amazing Spider-Man. Daredevil looks to be another property on the mulligan fast track, not to mention the utterly unnecessary Ghost Rider sequel. So, really, it was only a matter of time before the Fantastic Four movies hit the reset button.
Taking a cue from Sony, Fox is developing a reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise, based on the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby co-created funny book, published by Marvel Comics (and currently written rather exceptionally by Jonathan Hickman). Considering that the first two movies failed to garner a loyal fan base, but were still somewhat successful financially, it isn’t surprising that they would take another crack at the family adventurers. Still, at least Bryan Singer’s X-Men and the previous Spider-Man flicks earned the favor of most movie critics — noted curmudgeon and real-life troll Armond White could only manage to call Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer “the least painful” of that summer’s blockbuster sequels.
Of course, like X-Men: First Class, there’s always the chance that a transparent grab for keeping another company from making money, while maybe, hopefully making money yourself will end up pleasing more people than it rightfully should. The jury’s still out on Amazing Spider-Man, but similarly to that project hiring a talented newcomer, (500) Days Of Summer’s Marc Webb, the new Fantastic Four’s current directing frontrunner is Josh Trank. Trank previously worked as an editor on the low-key but stellar Patton Oswalt vehicle, Big Fan, and most recently completed the equally low-key, but equally stellar-looking found footage superhero movie Chronicle. Fox probably won’t make a final decision on Trank and FF until Chronicle is released, but if he does get the gig, we can probably expect superhero tentpole with a depth and darkness that the previous entries lacked.
Of course, if Bruce Willis does indeed sign on as a glorified cameo for a mostly-CGI Ben Grimm/Thing, then all bets are off. Considering his upcoming appearances in sequels for both G.I. Joe and The Expendables, it’s entirely possible this could happen. Still, if you’re interested to see how Trank might interpret Johnny Storm discovering his powers, here’s a new clip from Chronicle. It’s not flashy, but it continues to show that the director’s take on the genre is far more engaging (and respectful of its source material) than that of most filmmakers: