There’s been a lot of debate over what exactly happened with 20th Century Fox and Josh Trank‘s unquestionable box office bomb “Fantastic Four.” There’s been a ton of aggressive finger pointing for both sides — with Trank blaming studio interference and the studio blaming Trank’s erratic behavior — that may or may not have led to the film’s poor opening weekend performance, not to mention a barrage of early very negative reviews. However, after a report from Birth.Movies.Death., we know one person definitely had the right idea in mind: original script writer Jeremy Slater.
Slater came on board the film in 2012 along with director Josh Trank and the version of the movie he laid out varies greatly from what we ended up with in the end. The first act of the film remains largely the same — with a flashback showing the beginning of young Reed Richards’ friendship with Ben Grimm, his recruitment into the Baxter Building Program, the present day construction of the Quantum Gate and the journey to the Negative Zone, er, “Planet Zero.”
The big difference in that act, though, comes from a lot of character work and relationship building that never made it to the final product, not to mention the much shorter timespan and inclusion of Moloids. The final version of the film extends the backstory and lead-up to the “big trip” to basically 2/3 of the film and then rushes a big battle at the end, whereas in Slater’s script, the beginning happens real fast and the rest of the film includes a ton of action, character building, Sue Storm being awesome as heck, and, oh yeah, Galactus.
In Slater’s version, Doom gets trapped in the Negative Zone — where Galactus resides — and becomes the planet-eating godlike being’s new Herald, returning to Earth to prepare the planet as the Devourer of World’s next meal. Instead, Doom decides to try and develop a weapon to destroy the Destroyer. A lot more excitment happens, from a battle in New York against a giant Moloid — straight out of the cover to “Fantastic Four” #1 — to a final showdown in Latveria.
The whole breakdown is worth a read because there’s a lot in there, but at the end of the day, though the origins are a bit off, the final two acts are very Jack Kirby/Stan Lee Fantastic Four. Well, except for Doom. It seems Hollywood still can’t get Doom right. Making him the Herald of Galactus is certainly an interesting idea but having him have cosmic powers and all that — it’s not Doctor Doom.
So, how come we didn’t end up with that version? Well, from what Birth.Movies.Death puts together, the version Slater planned was simply too much money. Fox wanted a cheap FF film — considering how badly received the previous two versions were — and wanted it done fast. So, instead, we get a similar opening act but stretched out for way too long, filled with hallways and indoor labs. You know, really cheap set pieces.
Fox brought in Simon Kinberg in 2014, who delivered a rewrite of Slater’s script and who became heavily involved in the project. Whatever happened behind the scenes and what exactly went down between Trank and the studio we may never know. But what we do know, is that somewhere, in some distant Marvel Universe reality, Slater’s Fantastic Four film got made, and we all absolutely loved it.
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