Twenty four years. Four films. None particularly well received. What is it about the Fantastic Four that is so hard to crack for film studios? Is the Fantastic Four forever “doomed” when it comes to the big screen? While the majority of fans are eager to see what Kevin Feige and company do with Marvel’s first family, could this particular property be better suited for the small screen? There’s zero doubt in most minds that Marvel Studios could deliver a great Fantastic Four film, the property has always felt like something that needed more breathing room than is allowed in a two to two and a half hour film.
With four central characters and a villain to introduce, there’s not a lot of time to give each of these characters. 2015’s Fantastic Four, for all its faults, did what I considered the best job by making Reed and Ben the film’s central characters and building everyone around them. However, that only worked out for them to a small extent as other characters such as Victor Von Doom pretty much fell flat on their face and were a waste of screentime. And I’m saying that as someone that actually liked the first two-thirds of the film.
While the villains featured in their films have vastly improved in recent years, one might argue that television has had some of the stronger villains minus a few exceptions. From Grant Ward to Madame HYDRA and Kingpin to Bushmaster, we’ve seen that the additional time that television allows has worked out for the benefit of the villains. With a rogue gallery which includes such great villains as Doctor Doom, Wizard, Annihilus, The Mole Man and many others, it might work out in the best interest of the Fantastic Four to give them time to properly develop them alongside our heroes.
But what about bringing characters like the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing and Human Torch to life? With a great budget, comes great visual effects. While some might scoff at the idea of being able to properly pull off the Fantastic Four on television, there have been great advancements in the visual effects seen on television in the recent years. Though the property might be a bit more demanding than others, with the right team and budget, there’s no doubt in my mind that they could deliver a great looking take on the Fantastic Four. A good comparison might be series such as the recent Lost In Space reboot, Altered Carbon or Star Trek Discovery. Each of these showing just how good a sci-fi television series can look these days on a television budget.
With Disney willing to put in roughly $10M per episode on a live-action Star Wars series, I’d be surprised if they wouldn’t be willing to do the same for a Marvel property. And one could imagine that a Marvel series of this level that would lure many viewers to the streaming service. There’s no doubt in my mind that they could deliver a great looking Fantastic Four on the small screen that could rival or come close to what they would do with a film in the visuals department. Finding the right showrunner, having a proper budget and more time to really flesh out the characters and their stories sounds like a winning combination for this property.
While a superhero series at it’s core, the Fantastic Four has always been at it’s best when it focuses on the sci-fi aspects and the characters rather than the spectacle. This can be especially seen in Trank’s 2015 reboot. The best parts of that film are when it’s focused on its characters early on but once it ventured into the generic superhero territory, everything went off the rails and was doomed to mediocrity thus ruining what had the potential to be a decent adaptation of the Ultimate Fantastic Four run. Sure, we need some spectacle as well but a Fantastic Four series along the lines of Lost In Space and Star Trek: Discovery sounds much more interesting and exciting to me.
Though it is more likely that Feige and the rest of the Marvel Studios team will want to bring Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben to theaters as a feature film franchise, I’d personally lean towards the team and their adventures being a better fit for something a bit more serialized. This also wouldn’t necessarily prevent the Fantastic Four from interacting with The Avengers in theaters. Though they’ve yet to pull off a television and film crossover currently due to production schedules, I’m sure this could be worked out if the powers that be want to make it happen.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Would you prefer to see the Fantastic Four be developed into a feature film franchise or television series? Let us know in the comments section below.