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Simon Kinberg on what he believes to be the failures of Fantastic Four

06.01.2016

Fantastic Four Simon Kinberg

When a film bombs rather spectacularly, be it critically or commercially, there's a certain amount of obsession which follows as we attempt to figure just what went wrong. One of the bigger disappointments of the past few years was Josh Trank's FANTASTIC FOUR, but I probably don't need to tell you that. The potential was there for something unique to happen, which is obviously what the cast and crew were aiming for, but the film didn't quite come together. While speaking on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, Simon Kinberg revealed what he thought was FANTASTIC FOUR's downfall.

I don’t think that there is, in any movie that doesn’t work, a single decision that is the reason that that movie doesn’t work. I think that there were many decisions we made along the way that led to a movie that people didn’t like and to a movie that I would do differently next time. I think the biggest takeaway for me [is that] the tone of the movie, while really interesting and ambitious, ran counter to the DNA of the source material. I think the source material of Fantastic Four is bright, optimistic, poppy in tone. There’s a sort of plucky spirit to those characters, and we made a darker, sort of body-horror kind of version of Fantastic Four, which again as I say it now sounds really interesting and cerebrally ambitious, but isn’t necessarily Fantastic Four.

It's a shame that Fox can't seem to get Fantastic Four to work even after three times at bat; perhaps one day we'll get to see a Spider-Man scenario play out which has Marvel collaborating with Fox to give us their vision of Marvel's first family, but for the time being, Fox still has plans for the future of FANTASTIC FOUR. Simon Kinberg says that the franchise is "a big part of the plan going forward. Like I say, the biggest lesson learned was that Fantastic Four is a great comic book that has its own tone and voice, and we need to honor that and let that lead us." Although there's always the temptation to start over from scratch, Kinberg says that he'd love to continue on-wards with Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell.

I'm sure Denny's is counting down the days until they can bring the Thing Burger back.

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11:02AM on 06/02/2016
Well, at least he recognizes after the fact why he screwed up.

I think the key to adapting Fantastic Four is definitely getting the tone right. The source material is certainly different than X-Men, so it shouldn't be made to match that world. They really either need to adapt a tone similar to Marvel's movies or something akin to Jurassic Park/World tone. It needs to be a science fiction adventure movie, where the main leads just happen to have super powers. Build out the story from
Well, at least he recognizes after the fact why he screwed up.

I think the key to adapting Fantastic Four is definitely getting the tone right. The source material is certainly different than X-Men, so it shouldn't be made to match that world. They really either need to adapt a tone similar to Marvel's movies or something akin to Jurassic Park/World tone. It needs to be a science fiction adventure movie, where the main leads just happen to have super powers. Build out the story from there and don't worry about a world-ending catastrophe that the team needs to come together for. Just have them on some type of adventure and involved in some kind of plot that they need to help with. The FF comics are riddled with stories like these. Aside from Galactus, I don't think I've ever read an FF comic where they're facing down some threat to the entire planet.
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5:25AM on 06/02/2016

Just give it back to Marvel -- He doesn't get it!

It's like, plugging Star Trek stories into Star Wars ... You don't change the familiar ... First, FF is a white family -- Changing that to please the masses is just simple and stupid -- Keep it real like the comic books! I already see the future -- spend 100m dollar on another one, and it will bomb -- And sadly, FF will never have that change to be big ---
It's like, plugging Star Trek stories into Star Wars ... You don't change the familiar ... First, FF is a white family -- Changing that to please the masses is just simple and stupid -- Keep it real like the comic books! I already see the future -- spend 100m dollar on another one, and it will bomb -- And sadly, FF will never have that change to be big ---
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5:09AM on 06/02/2016
He still doesn't get it. It was the cast.
He still doesn't get it. It was the cast.
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12:50AM on 06/02/2016
Or maybe a comic book movie about 'Marvel's First Family' just wouldn't work without the actual MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE in it?

Just sayin', Simon.
Or maybe a comic book movie about 'Marvel's First Family' just wouldn't work without the actual MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE in it?

Just sayin', Simon.
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12:19AM on 06/02/2016
"I donít think that there is, in any movie that doesnít work, a single decision that is the reason that that movie doesnít work. I think that there were many decisions..."

1) Kinberg wrote it
2) Trank directed it

Okay, maybe that's being a little harsh, but Kinberg is like David S, Goyer, where he gets a lot of credit for stuff he either didn't write or had minimal involvement in. You look at the list of films where he's actually written the final script and it's not pretty. "XxX: State
"I donít think that there is, in any movie that doesnít work, a single decision that is the reason that that movie doesnít work. I think that there were many decisions..."

1) Kinberg wrote it
2) Trank directed it

Okay, maybe that's being a little harsh, but Kinberg is like David S, Goyer, where he gets a lot of credit for stuff he either didn't write or had minimal involvement in. You look at the list of films where he's actually written the final script and it's not pretty. "XxX: State of the Union," "X-Men: The Last Stand,""Jumper," "This Means War." None of those film got remotely good reviews and all but one of them bombed at the box office. Is it really any surprise that Fantastic Four followed suit?
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9:06AM on 06/02/2016
Yeah, and the movies Goyer has directed aren't pretty either ("Blade:Trinity, The Invincible," etc.). The Nolans have made perfect use out of Goyer. The man seems to know his comics and comic history so keeping him on as a consultant, or at most, contributor to the story, is the way to go. As for Kinberg, he seems to have been apart of some solid films here and there, but mostly duds like you said.
Yeah, and the movies Goyer has directed aren't pretty either ("Blade:Trinity, The Invincible," etc.). The Nolans have made perfect use out of Goyer. The man seems to know his comics and comic history so keeping him on as a consultant, or at most, contributor to the story, is the way to go. As for Kinberg, he seems to have been apart of some solid films here and there, but mostly duds like you said.
10:48PM on 06/01/2016

"The Fantastic Four" -- "B-Movie By Accident?"

The largest issue is in the script, and if the problem starts there then the film should not commence filming, but they had who they had cast so it was too late to schedule, etc. I was discussing this with a friend the other day. Both of us agreed the first forty or so minutes are actually pretty strong, and I was eager to call bullshit on all of the jeers. And then, the story just falls apart and motivations become lacking, moments and scenes rushed, so much in fact, is packed in that the
The largest issue is in the script, and if the problem starts there then the film should not commence filming, but they had who they had cast so it was too late to schedule, etc. I was discussing this with a friend the other day. Both of us agreed the first forty or so minutes are actually pretty strong, and I was eager to call bullshit on all of the jeers. And then, the story just falls apart and motivations become lacking, moments and scenes rushed, so much in fact, is packed in that the entire middle of the story is absent and before we know it, the ending has already begun and the finale is happening. I did not have any problem with the tone. In fact, they make it work for as long as they can (at least until the story just drops out from the bottom of this film -- I seriously wanted to watch it again because this was so jarring and I thought I had missed something). I remember an interview with director Josh Trank that I read sometime last year before the film was released, and he said he was inspired by Cronenberg in the pre-production and early production process. I found this so heartening and was excited for the film, and for the first forty minutes, he definitely succeeds. It reminds me a lot of "The Fly" in its pacing, shots, and overall aesthetic for that duration, and then well, I've said it already, it tanks. The effects are also nothing to be in awe over, but they are also not the shit show some reviews have described. The acting is fine with some misses here and there, mostly due to the horrific lines they have to recite, and the film is consistent. It just never should have begun. The story needed work: an actual middle to the film, rewrites of dialogue (especially in the final fight sequence -- lines are rushed and lack inspiration or genuine heart as they are recited by the characters; again, the actors do the best they can with what they have), a stronger finish in the final battle department (which is hardly a fight scene compared to even the modest of superhero finales; weakest of any fight scene since, well, probably the first "X-Men" film), and more of Doctor Doom because damn, that character deserved more (no Doom puns here, sorry). As for the ol' switcheroo as far as changing Johnny Storm's race, I hold no issue with that whatsoever. It works and Michael B. Jordan is a great young actor who carried the role as satisfactorily as he could considering what was written on the page (along with all actors involved -- although it was strange to see Timothy Blake Nelson in there and I couldn't help but think about his role in "The Incredible Hulk" which was solid, only that did not carry on further either). All in all, speaking strictly on what is shown onscreen, "The Fantastic Four" was a poor film that needed a much much stronger story. I could actually see this film doing well in later years as far as DVD sales because aside from its story problems and tonal issues with fans and audiences, it actually does have a fun factor. I agree with KevWhit70 here. It succeeds as a B-grade superhero flick. The problem is, it wasn't made to be one. But hell, "B-movie-by-accident" is better than nothing at all...maybe. If not, well, no one will criticize it for trying like they did when it was released in theaters. As far as the tone, I'd keep it lighter the next go-around of course. They are fun characters and it is a fun comic. Embrace its old school fun and bring it into modern times. I would say get some help from Marvel, but well, ya' know.
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9:16PM on 06/01/2016
They just got the tone all, ALL wrong. The Fantastic Four are anything but gritty, moody, and broody. Considering their comic book history and superpowers, they should be some of the easiest comic book characters to make a successful film around. And the whole character race change with Johnny Storm just to make a statement didn't help the film out whatsoever.

I know a lot of people like to hate on the first two, but I thought the casting, team chemistry, and tone were absolutely perfect.
They just got the tone all, ALL wrong. The Fantastic Four are anything but gritty, moody, and broody. Considering their comic book history and superpowers, they should be some of the easiest comic book characters to make a successful film around. And the whole character race change with Johnny Storm just to make a statement didn't help the film out whatsoever.

I know a lot of people like to hate on the first two, but I thought the casting, team chemistry, and tone were absolutely perfect. Especially given the time that they were both released.
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9:59PM on 06/01/2016
Focusing on the race of Johnny Storm is the least of this movie's problems. Meaning, that wasn't even a factor that would've affected the quality of the film at all. SLJ didn't bring down the quality of the MCU films because Nick Fury was traditionally white. Michael B Jordan is a fine actor and from your comments on this site, it seems you just have it out for him for some reason.. I wonder if it had been a white actor giving the same performance, would you have torn it to shreds the way you
Focusing on the race of Johnny Storm is the least of this movie's problems. Meaning, that wasn't even a factor that would've affected the quality of the film at all. SLJ didn't bring down the quality of the MCU films because Nick Fury was traditionally white. Michael B Jordan is a fine actor and from your comments on this site, it seems you just have it out for him for some reason.. I wonder if it had been a white actor giving the same performance, would you have torn it to shreds the way you have his?
12:16PM on 06/02/2016
Soloist, did u even see this? And IFFFF the answer is yes, why did u see it? BC u wrote more strate hatred than just ab anyone else. U hated the movie from early production, and then it turned out the movie was bad. Why would you see it? I seem to remember u trying to get ppl to protest this. So did you pay to see it - aka help it make some $? So if you didn't see this, u don't know what's wrong with it. I haven't seen it and idk but I can say from what I've heard.

What was the race
Soloist, did u even see this? And IFFFF the answer is yes, why did u see it? BC u wrote more strate hatred than just ab anyone else. U hated the movie from early production, and then it turned out the movie was bad. Why would you see it? I seem to remember u trying to get ppl to protest this. So did you pay to see it - aka help it make some $? So if you didn't see this, u don't know what's wrong with it. I haven't seen it and idk but I can say from what I've heard.

What was the race statement of mike b Jordan? If they wanted to make a big racial statement in a comic book film, they'd at least cast him as mr fantastic. I'm pretty certain it wasn't any race message. Just BC a different colored actor plays a different colored character doesn't mean it's a message. That's ignorant. Aren't u one of the ppl down for Idris Elba as Bond? What would that message be? None. Just that he's a great fit for the role. If everyone in the film was black I may agree with you, but I'm pretty sure it's the OBVIOUSLY easy answer: MbJ is a great actor. One of his first larger films was Chronicle. That director saw his talent and they prolly became friends. Human Torch is just cocky and usually in cgi, how hard is that? Later that year he went to star in a film which I think was nominated for best actor? If not, he got critical acclaim. What makes you think there was some message? Do you think that BC the characters had super powers that the film was anti-guns?


The first two were solid movies, but perfect casting???? Alba? Dr doom? And reed was ok but not perfect
8:35PM on 06/01/2016

In the minority on this one...

I caught this on HBO and was surprised that I actually kind of enjoyed the movie! It wasn't the best superhero flick ever but i certainly didn't think it was as terrible as everyone made it out to be. Just curious, what was the main reason everyone didn't like it - just the tone being a little darker and not as bright as the comics?
I caught this on HBO and was surprised that I actually kind of enjoyed the movie! It wasn't the best superhero flick ever but i certainly didn't think it was as terrible as everyone made it out to be. Just curious, what was the main reason everyone didn't like it - just the tone being a little darker and not as bright as the comics?
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11:06PM on 06/01/2016
I'm with you. I went in with extremely low expectations. I thought it had the makings of a very good science fiction movie. I'm not sure the characters were done terribly well. So, maybe this movie would have been better suited for a science fiction movie w/o the F4. I really dug the idea of the other dimension...and the mystery of it.
Now...we mustn't forget that there was A LOT of this movie left on the cutting room floor. There were major sequences that were chopped. Maybe that would have
I'm with you. I went in with extremely low expectations. I thought it had the makings of a very good science fiction movie. I'm not sure the characters were done terribly well. So, maybe this movie would have been better suited for a science fiction movie w/o the F4. I really dug the idea of the other dimension...and the mystery of it.
Now...we mustn't forget that there was A LOT of this movie left on the cutting room floor. There were major sequences that were chopped. Maybe that would have made it better. Who knows?
But, there are worse movies than this one. "Catwoman" comes to mind. Oh well..I guess we shall see what their next move is
9:49AM on 06/02/2016
@ucfro I agree the characters could've been done better - the movie as a whole definitely could've been fleshed out more. That said, I did enjoy the 'Planet Zero' stuff and also the whole angle of the govt basically holding them hostage to use their powers for the military. I didn't mind the cast much either - wouldve liked a different, more classic look for Doom - but would be interested to see them return for another, better film
@ucfro I agree the characters could've been done better - the movie as a whole definitely could've been fleshed out more. That said, I did enjoy the 'Planet Zero' stuff and also the whole angle of the govt basically holding them hostage to use their powers for the military. I didn't mind the cast much either - wouldve liked a different, more classic look for Doom - but would be interested to see them return for another, better film
5:54PM on 06/02/2016
yep. I dug Planet Zero stuff too. And while I didn't necessarily care for Doom's look...when he got up and started laying waste to everyone as he walked down the hallway...I thought that was well done, and had the potential for a good villain. They kind of wasted it. But, then again...several of those problems, might have been solved by the stuff that was cut out. The scene of the Thing dropping free fall from the jet, that was in all the previews...was not in the movie. That could have
yep. I dug Planet Zero stuff too. And while I didn't necessarily care for Doom's look...when he got up and started laying waste to everyone as he walked down the hallway...I thought that was well done, and had the potential for a good villain. They kind of wasted it. But, then again...several of those problems, might have been solved by the stuff that was cut out. The scene of the Thing dropping free fall from the jet, that was in all the previews...was not in the movie. That could have certainly given us a little better character development...being used as weapons and all.
I too have no problems with the cast. A choppy film, isn't going to help a performance at all.
8:07PM on 06/01/2016
Yeah, this whole film was a mess. From the direction, to the cast (good actors, but not a good fit for the characters), to the script (boring and lacking character development).
I know it's not a great movie, but the 2005 Fantastic Four movie wasn't bad either. I think if you released the same movie today and said it was part of the MCU (and a Stark or Nick Fury cameo), fanboys would eat it up. I mean, you can't tell me it's much different in tone or style to Ant-man.
Yeah, this whole film was a mess. From the direction, to the cast (good actors, but not a good fit for the characters), to the script (boring and lacking character development).
I know it's not a great movie, but the 2005 Fantastic Four movie wasn't bad either. I think if you released the same movie today and said it was part of the MCU (and a Stark or Nick Fury cameo), fanboys would eat it up. I mean, you can't tell me it's much different in tone or style to Ant-man.
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7:52PM on 06/01/2016
It's odd that he didn't mention the director, Josh Trank. To me, he is the reason why this movie failed.
It's odd that he didn't mention the director, Josh Trank. To me, he is the reason why this movie failed.
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9:53PM on 06/01/2016
I was thinking that too. Just makes me more convinced that the movie we got is not at all the movie he intended to make. The studio absolutely ripped it apart. I'd be curious to see the directors cut
I was thinking that too. Just makes me more convinced that the movie we got is not at all the movie he intended to make. The studio absolutely ripped it apart. I'd be curious to see the directors cut
10:55PM on 06/01/2016
I think so too. Studio must have interfered a lot and loads of story about Trank being an absolute diva on set and drove everybody crazy.
I think so too. Studio must have interfered a lot and loads of story about Trank being an absolute diva on set and drove everybody crazy.
12:53AM on 06/02/2016
I think Josh Trank set out to make Fantastic Four as a spiritual successor to Chronicle, and he's not exactly wrong. He was paid to do it. It's just clear that FOX didn't really know what they want until they get a preview of the movie and realized that it's a bad idea.
I think Josh Trank set out to make Fantastic Four as a spiritual successor to Chronicle, and he's not exactly wrong. He was paid to do it. It's just clear that FOX didn't really know what they want until they get a preview of the movie and realized that it's a bad idea.
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