When a trailer for a would-be blockbuster like The Fantastic Four arrives, we typically examine the clip frame-by-frame, sussing out the tiniest details and extrapolating key plot points.
This time around, though, we figured we’d have the filmmakers do the heavy-lifting themselves.
Cue director Josh Trank (Chronicle) and screenwriter-producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), who graciously agreed to sit down for this exclusive commentary (above) on the newly released teaser about the Fox reboot of the classic Marvel hero team.
WATCH THE TEASER WITHOUT THE COMMENTARY:
THESE GUYS HAVE NERD BONA FIDES.
In case it wasn’t abundantly clear from their track record, Trank and Kinberg are big comic fans. While previous movies adapted the 1961 origin story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Trank and Kinberg chose the Ultimate Fantastic Four for their source material, which reimagines the team.
“I really wanted to tell the story of a young Reed Richards,” says Trank, noting he was especially inspired by a scene in the Ultimate book of Reed as a child prodigy tinkering in his garage.
“The next generation,” Kinberg adds. “A younger Fantastic Four.”
FORGGET THOSE OTHER FOURSOMES.
The film aims to make distant memories of Tim Story’s jokey 2005 version (and its sequel) and Roger Corman’s 1994 campfest.
Says Trank: “[Stan Lee] loved the idea that somebody would take the Fantastic Four seriously and put them in a modern space.”
To wit, the filmmakers cast the quartet of Miles Teller (Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Sue Storm/Invisible Woman), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/The Thing), and Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm/The Human Torch). ”I don’t think we could possibly find four better actors to portray these characters in this version of the story,” says Trank. ”We wanted [the movie]to be grounded and dramatic and we went for the four most dramatic actors.”
COSMIC RAYS DON’T CUT IT ANYMORE.
While Lee and Kirby conceived the team as astronauts blasting off in the Cold War space race and gaining their powers due to transfiguring “cosmic ray,” this film features the gang attempting to teleport to another dimension. Trank sought to make it as believable as possible. “I really wanted to see science in science fiction, which I think we rarely see,” he says. That extended to the costumes. “[We wanted] to create these suits that had a real science function to them,” says Kinberg, adding that Trank “termed them containment suits to contain their powers.”
THE ONE GIF YOU NEED TO GRAB FROM THIS STORY.
The Thing, with his rock-hard exterior, arsenal of wisecracks, and classic catchphrase (“It’s clobbering time!”), has always been the most popular team member. While Fox’s last two Fanatastic Four films relied on Michael Chiklis in an unconvincing orange costume, Trank decided to use motion-capture CGI of Jamie Bell to render the ever-lovin’ brute. And his initial appearance in the teaser is a highlight.
￼“That,” says Kinberg, “will be the frame that is frozen and screen-captured and emailed the most.” We also get a quick glimpse of Johnny Storm flaming on as the Human Torch. Then later, we have the Torch fully engulfed while sister Sue shows off her force field skills.
(We don’t see Mr. Fantastic go full stretchy, but there’s a brief shot at the 1:26 mark where Teller throws a punch that could keep going.)
NO ROOM FOR DR. DOOM?
This is a teaser, after all, so Trank and Kinberg are saving some reveals for the Aug. 7 release. Among them, what chief antagonist, the armor-sporting Dr. Doom, will look like.
We think that might be a glimpse of Doom’s alter ego, the scarred Victor Domashev (Toby Kebbell), on the hospital bed, but Trank and Kinberg aren’t spilling.
FIRST FAMILY OF THE COMICS.
“All of the dynamics, both good and bad, about being in a family were playing out in a comic book,” says Kinberg of the kind of stories that made the Marvel title so enduring. And the filmmakers wanted to stay true to that motif.
“The most important thing about the Fantastic Four,” Trank says, “is that this is a movie about a family.”