The thing about Fantastic Four wasn’t that it was terrible — it was that it could have been so much better. It’s no secret that even the director himself is frustrated with the final cut of the film, which comes to no surprise when looking at the lists of promising scenes from the trailer that never made it into the film.
To be fair, the movie starts out rather favourable with a young Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and his new-found friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). Together, they work to create a teleportation device in Reed’s basement with hints of a darker, less-than-functional family background. Flash forward years later, Reed meets Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) at his school’s science fair. He’s recruited to the Baxter Foundation where they’ve been attempting to crack the key to interdimensional travel.
There, Reed acquaints himself with Sue, her risk-taking brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), the brooding, former prized student of Dr. Storm. Together, they work on the interdimensional transporter in a montage filled with attempts at team bonding, awkward flirting, and tension, courtesy of Victor. Up until this point, the film had a milder, yet still pleasant, tone than the other action-filled Marvel movies.
However, once the transporter proves to work, the U.S. government denies them the chance to go on the excursion to the other dimension. Like any action movie, this doesn’t stop them from doing so anyway, and hence, we have the birth of the Fantastic Four with powers fresh from the other dimension.
From here, many parts of the film went from decent to disappointing. As we discussed in another article, Fantastic Four had gotten both praise and flack for race-bending Johnny Storm/The Human Torch and Dr. Franklin Storm, both of whom were Caucasian in the comics and previous film adaptations. But even with the added racial diversity in the main characters, the supporting characters that appear in the film with a speaking role are still predominantly white.
I also had expectations for Sue Storm; being the only female in the Four and with the casting of Jordan and Cathey as the other Storms, I was hoping that her character wouldn’t be reduced to being a love interest. In some scenes, she’s shown to be highly capable and intelligent, yet, most of her role was reduced to being the unrequited love interest of Victor and the actual love interest of Reed. To be fair, she wasn’t entirely just that — she (with her powers) was also the main mode of transportation for the Four as well.
There’s no doubt that with all the reshooting and cutting done to the film, the team’s dynamic took a huge hit as well. The film kept pushing the idea that Ben and Reed were the best of friends, but really, with The Thing/Ben having so many scenes cut, the relationship seemed too forced. Like Variety’s review of the film says, “the original comics were defined in part by the interactions of the characters” and Fantastic Four barely managed to even touch the surface of their team dynamic.
Of course, it wasn’t only the Four who suffered a blow from the editing cuts. The film’s villain, Victor Von Doom, not only lost his original backstory from the comics, but lost a lot of depth in his character, too. With Victor reappearing close to the climax, he comes back with his own bunch of superpowers from the other dimension and only half of an explanation why.
Why the studio decided to cut so many scenes we’ll probably never understand why, but there seems to be no end in sight with the bad reviews and ‘fantastic’ references to the film’s now ironic title.