With calls for the release of the so-called "Snyder Cut" of Justice League showing no signs of diminishing, Fantastic Four director Josh Trank self-deprecatingly raised the specter of his original edit of the 2015 box-office bomb, writing, "Lure everyone to a massive theater for a double feature of the
#snydercut & the #trankcut and then just play Jerry Lewis's The Day The Clown Cried and hold a discussion." It's a funny tweet, but it serves as a reminder that, while the existence of an actual "Snyder Cut" remains in question, we know that Trank completed his own edit of Fantastic Four that apparently differs greatly from what was released in theaters. And it was supposedly ... pretty good.
Before signing on to direct Fantastic Four, Trank wowed audiences and critics alike with 2012's Chronicle, a personal yet disturbing sci-fi film that drew allusions to both superhero movies and such anime classics as Akira. For that reason, Trank was tasked by Fox to help reimagine the moribund Marvel Comics property. However, the production was beset by problems, and Trank distanced himself from the disastrous final film on the eve of release. Trank insisted he had created a much better version of the film, but that cut would more than likely never surface.
Although that may sound like little more than a director trying to save face (not say nothing of a burgeoning career), there's some credence to Trank's self-defense. There reportedly a cut of Fantastic Four overseen by Trank, before a dissatisfied Fox ordered another edit without the director's involvement, something confirmed by co-star Toby Kebbell, who contended the filmmaker's vision was superior to that released in theaters.
Hints of what could have been have surfaced since the film's release, namely through insights into the film's original script (which included far more character development, better pacing, and faithfulness to the source material), and deleted scenes and B-roll, some of which suggested a version of the Fantasticar. Another obvious sign of the film's extensive editing were several action scenes featuring The Thing in trailers and TV promos, all of which were cut from the final film.
Although even Trank concedes we'll likely never see his version of Fantastic Four, it certainly seems a greater possibility than a “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. As mentioned by Trank and Kebbell, this initial cut did exist, and Fox's dislike of it was the catalyst for the new edit. Meanwhile, many of the planned elements in Zack Snyder's original vision for Justice League are only now coming to light. Most of them, such as storyboards and concept art for unused characters like Darkseid, never made it past that stage. Thus, Snyder hadn't created a cut that included those elements before his departure during production.
Conversely, although many of the first script's story elements featured concepts from the Fantastic Four comics, Kebbell's mention that the original cut of Fantastic Four was “darker” strikes at a particular chord that has already haunted the film. The Fantastic Four had been portrayed as rather light, almost hokey, characters in previous stories and adaptations, especially when compared to contemporaries, like the dour and down-to-earth Daredevil or the science fiction civil rights allegory of the X-Men.
Many criticized Fantastic Four for being such a colorless, serious movie, given the franchise's rather whimsical and extraordinary roots. Considering the property's floundering status with general audiences, however, the David Cronenberg-inspired body horror film that Trank planned may have been just what the characters needed to regenerate interest.
Despite all of the exciting plans and juicy behind-the-scenes drama, the elusive director's cuts for both Fantastic Four and Justice League are almost certain to never surface.