1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

'Fantastic Four' disappoints

Jochen Kürten / egAugust 7, 2015

Movie adaptations of Marvel comics have earned Disney billions of dollars. This reboot of the "Fantastic Four" will not break any box office records - and is doomed to disappoint the fans.

"Fantastic Four," Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox
Image: picture alliance /AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox

Boom! Zam! Ka-Pow! Once again, Hollywood literally had a blast. The speech bubbles from the "Fantastic Four" comics were scripted into dialogue, the cartoon characters were turned into moving images.

The 2015 "Fantastic Four," released on August 7 in the US and five days later in Germany, is Twentieth Century Fox's latest production. Following a succession of recent box office megahits including "X-Men," "Hulk", "Spider-Man," "Captain America" and "Guardians of the Galaxy," producers decided to tackle the story of the four young heroes with superpowers, once again.

A German first secured the rights

It is the fourth film adaptation of the comic book series which first appeared in 1961 in the United States. A German, Bernd Eichinger, then renowned for producing "The Neverending Story," secured the cinematic rights to the comic series in the mid 80s. Yet the project stalled, and his rights were about to expire in the 90s.

In 1993, he produced a low-budget version of "The Fantastic Four," simply to extend his rights on the series. The film was never released in theaters. It was shown publicly once and then disappeared into the archives.

"Fantastic Four," Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox
Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) is The ThingImage: picture alliance /AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox

With more time, effort and a definitely larger budget ($100 million), Eichinger produced a new "Fantastic Four" movie in 2005. Earning about $330 million at the box office, it was a success. A sequel followed, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (2007). But despite the commercial success, film critics were disappointed, and Hollywood knew there had to be a better way to squeeze more juicy material out of the four superheroes' adventures.

Mega box office succes

The other Marvel movies count millions of enthusiastic fans around the world. The films based on those comic books have earned over $5.2 billion in the past decade. Three of the 10 highest-grossing movies of all time started out as Marvel comics: "The Avengers," "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Iron Man 3."

"Fantastic Four," Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox
Reed Richards (Miles Teller, left) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) during an experimentImage: picture alliance /AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox/B. Rothstein

So a few years ago, Hollywood decided to revive the "Fantastic Four" once again, based on the expectation that the material can be renewed every decade, as the new generation of movie goers has its own stars and expectations as to the digital effects.

The film was directed by Josh Trank. Until recently, the young filmmaker was also slated to direct the upcoming "Star Wars" spinoff but has stepped down - perhaps because his version of "Fantastic Four" can hardly match up to other recent and highly successful Marvel films.

The fight against evil

The storyline was changed. In the original comic, a space flight through unknown galaxies led the four young heroes to acquire superpowers they could used to save the world from the forces of evil. But in the film, they get the superpowers through a failed teleportation experiment.

What follows in this remake of "Fantastic Four" is predictable however. After their trip into an unknown world, Reed, Johnny, Sue and Ben discover that they can suddenly do more than normal human beings: Reed can stretch his limbs infinitely, Johnny can switch into a fireball, Sue moves through space in a bubble and Ben can turn into a giant stone monster.

Predictable and unspectacular

After spending a long time on the background story, a quick succession of fights make up the last third of the movie. They fight against their former colleague Victor Von Doom, who turned evil and wants to rule on the universe - and, of course, the Fantastic Four win.

"Fantastic Four," Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox
Johnny can turn into a fireball after the failed teleportationImage: picture alliance /AP Photo/B. Rothstein

Compared to "Spider-Man" or "X-Men" remakes, the new "Fantastic Four" is dull and disappointing. The special effects are not very impressive, the characters should have spent more time on the drawing board, and the plot is thin and predictable. The comic book version is still too present in this latest adaptation of the saga.

"Fantastic Four," Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox
Sue Storm (Kate Mara, left) can flyImage: picture alliance /AP Photo/B. Rothstein

Maybe the director and producers decided to target exclusively a young audience, but other Marvel movie adaptations have shown it is possible to make older fans get excited too, by adding just a bit more psychology to the characters and refining the digital effects."Fantastic Four" will definitely not be one of the top 10 best-grossing films.