Why’d it bomb? Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) and Fantastic 4 (2015)

The Fantastic Four are Marvel’s first family. With that honor, you think they would’ve gotten a movie that was great, something that could rival Batman, Superman, and Spidey’s best. Yet the Four’s outings on the big screen have been rocky to say the least. It’s been so bad that the first attempt at a Fantastic Four movie didn’t even get released.

The second outing was a bit more promising, in that it did well at the box office, but it was panned by critics. Then came it’s sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was a box office disappointment, and a reboot of Fantastic Four which bombed altogether. But why didn’t these movies do well? Let’s find out!

3. The word of mouth from the previous movie
While Fantastic Four ’05 might have been a box office success, I think it’s derision from critics and audiences made more people stay away from Rise of the Silver Surfer. When that movie also got a terrible response from audiences and critics, I think that turned off more people from seeing a Fantastic Four movie, which led to Fantastic Four ’15 bombing at the box office.

2. The Fantastic Four’s declining popularity
The Four haven’t been quite as popular as they used to be. Not only have their movies sales been declining but the comic sales have also decreased over time, probably in no small part thanks to both FF ’05 and Silver Surfer.

1. The backlash from fans
Before Fantastic Four 2015 even came out, there was a huge backlash against fans from it, thanks to the mediocre 2005 movies, them wanting the four to join the MCU, rumors about what the movie would’ve been like that didn’t sit well with fans, and the director making fun of the fans on twitter and apparently having caused a huge fuss on set (doing things like apparently abusing Kate Mara because he didn’t want her on the set and having his dogs trash a hotel room he was staying at while filming the movie, among other things). There are even videos detailing the whole thing.

Of course, there were also racist fans who didn’t like the fact that Michael B. Jordan had been cast as Johnny Storm, which unfortunately probably also had an effect on ticket sales.

Unfortunately, The Four just haven’t made a good movie yet and Rise of the Silver Surfer and Fant4stic didn’t change a thing. In the future, maybe we’ll finally get a good Fantastic Four film but, right now, Marvel’s first family has struggled on the big screen.


Posted on April 12, 2017, in Movies, Why'd it bomb? and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Racist fans? Way to act like an SJW…. people were upset because Human Torch and Invisible Women were brother and sister. Makes no sense having a black actor playing him in this regard


  2. Nostalgia Critic: Fantastic Four (2015)

    With the Fantastic Four constantly being botched on the big screen, is this the one that’s the absolute worst? The Nostalgia Critic reviews Fant4stic.


  3. The “racist fans” thing is entirely uncalled for and has no basis in reality. FANT4STIC was a godawful movie that no one wanted–including, by the end, the director–and that was ground out after two previous creative abortions just so Fox could keep the rights to the property with which they were doing nothing worth the doing. This was happening in the shadow of the wild success of the Marvel-produced movies, when the fan community wanted the FF back at Marvel where they belong.


    • There are a few issues to untangle here. One, Trank’s Fantastic Four was an objectively bad movie. It’s possible that without studio interference, it could have been worthwhile, but we’ll likely never know. Putting that aside, people were complaining about the casting of Michael B. Jordan when he was announced. At that point, not a frame of footage had been shot. So the movie’s eventual (lack of) quality had nothing to do with the reaction. Fans were upset that a black actor was cast as a character who has traditionally been portrayed as a white man.

      Was that racist? I won’t use that label although I think there is a degree of “white privilege” if not racism. I believe that most of the reaction was comic book fans who are resistant to change. I know plenty of Harry Potter or Twilight fans who got bent out of shape over relatively minor changes made to adaptations of their favorite books. But it takes on a different tone when Hollywood makes a rare move towards diversity and fans reject it. See also Feig’s Ghostbusters.


    • Wow, did one sentence really deserve this much vitriol? If you read the whole article, you’d know that the reason you gave for the movie bombing was pretty much what I said was the main reason this movie bombed. I said that the criticism towards Jordan’s casting was a very small part. I could’ve worded it better, I’ll give you that, but I didn’t say it was the main reason whatsoever, like you seem to think I did.


    • If you go back and look at articles written in the run-up to Fantastic Four’s release in 2015, you can find plenty of evidence that there was a subset of fans who were, in fact, upset with the casting of a black actor as Johnny Storm.

      This piece collects a number of Twitter responses which explicitly object to Michael B. Jordan’s casting on racial grounds:


  4. jeffthewildman

    The reaction to Jordan being cast as Johnny Storm wasn’t an aberration. I recall that when the abysmal Wild Wild West came out in the summer of 1999, a lot of fans of the TV show were up in arms over the casting of Will Smith as Jim West.

    I didn’t mind the casting. To me, when you have fictional characters, be they Jim West or Johnny Storm, you have wiggle room. It’s not like casting Denzel Washington as Abraham Lincoln or Charlton Heston as Malcolm X. With real people, it’s another matter.

    So I had no problem with Will Smith as Jim West. but the movie would’ve been a lot better if they had just ignored the issue of race in the script. But we ended up with lowest common denominator lynching jokes and other things that weren’t anywhere near funny.


    • I remember all of that about THE WILD WILD WEST. Initially, I preferred George Clooney for the part, but after the filmmakers said the race of the character wasn’t important – he was just an actor playing a part – I was fine with it. Then, while seeing the colossal piece of garbage, I was hit with the fact that the whole reason for the lead character’s motivation was based on his race. That made the movie even worse. This was in addition to not getting the characters personalities right. Terrible waste of time that movie was.


      • ^Well, it was probably due to race and I guess the suits at Warner Bros. thought that if they got the director of Men in Black for the film then they had to have Will Smith back, in the hopes that people would want to see the director and star of MIB do another film


      • The original “Wild Wild West” TV show w/ Robert Conrad was in essence, “James Bond in the old west”. The film version of “Wild Wild West” (and this isn’t necessarily the primary reason why it didn’t work) with Will Smith in a sense, felt like an updated version of Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” (but without the charm) with big, loud effects.


    • In theory, a black actor can play Johnny Storm because the character’s ethnicity isn’t exactly so essential to his identity or background. It would be a lot different if you didn’t cast a black actor to play Black Panther or Luke Cage. What doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though is to cast still a white actress in Kate Mara to play Sue Storm, who is of course Johnny Storm’s sister.

      I think with Michael B. Jordan, the director had previously worked with him on “Chronicle” and wanted to in essence do a sequel or follow-up to that, but with the “Fantastic Four” brand name. It therefore kind of came across as lazy casting or playing favors so to speak.

      With “Wild Wild West”, the casting of Will Smith was going to be problematic no matter what. If you just flat out ignore the racial issue (i.e. a black man in post-Reconstruction America working as a secret agent for the president) then you’re going to be accused of whitewashing (no pun intended) American history. But if you take the other option by playing too much of the racial issue, then it’s going to become too griping and unpleasant for what should be escapist entertainment.


  5. Comic book fans are resistant to change. Yeah. True in many regards. Saying that a black actor is cast as a character who has “traditionally” been white, and saying those people are racist for disagreeing with the casting is a bit much. The character is not “traditionally” white. The character IS white. Comic book fans get upset over costumes not being correct. You think they’re not going to have issues with the race of a character being changed for no apparent reason other than to bow to diversity? In addition to changing the race of one of the siblings, they had to account for the other being white, so she ended up – in the movie – being a refugee from an eastern European war. Huh? FANT4STIC was terrible for so many reasons. In the end, a black Human Torch was the least of them, but in the initial decision to cast completely against type, it was obvious that the filmmakers had no desire to stick to the Fantastic Four that the fans of the comics had known for 50 years prior. Heck, I remember when Chris Evans was picked as the Human Torch (and later as Captain America). I was incensed that they chose a brunette for the part. In the transition to movies from the visual medium of comics, we tend to expect a direct translation on the easy stuff (like how the costumes look and the personalities of the characters). We get upset when things that should be easy to transition over are not done as we feel they should be. So yes, people were upset that a black actor was cast as the Human Torch, but not due to racism (in most cases), but because the love for the character prohibited in those people the desire to see him changed in any significant way. The filmmakers botched the easy part.


  6. 16 Marvel Movies That Didn’t Live Up To the Hype


    Back before the MCU became the biggest movie series in the history of cinema, Marvel movies were produced by a series of different studios, and each property would feature its own tone and style.

    As comic book fans prepared for Fantastic Four to come to theaters, there was a general buzz of excitement at seeing Marvel’s First Family on the big screen. While some fans hesitated at the sight of Michael Chiklis in an unconvincing rubber suit as The Thing, overall, comic book lovers were excited to see the Fantastic Four brought to life.

    The finished movie certainly features a lot of classic FF banter, and has a lighthearted, comedic tone that suits its source material, but fans were ultimately disappointed. Fantastic Four didn’t feel like the perfect use of these characters, and its overly slapstick storytelling, alongside a very unfaithful portrayal of Doctor Doom, left many fans wishing for a less childish approach to Reed Richards and his family.


    Ten years after the original Fantastic Four hit theaters, and after that movie’s sequel had improved on some (but not all) of the original movie’s failings, Twentieth Century Fox gave another try at the franchise.

    As fans had felt that the original Fantastic Four had been too silly, this new movie was designed to be dark, gritty, and far more like Fox’s other comic book series, X-Men. To this end, Chronicle director Josh Trank was given the task of adapting the Fantastic Four to the screen, and took a lot of inspiration from the Ultimate Fantastic Four line of comics.

    The movie did not meet fan expectations. It’s hard to say that the hype for this movie was particularly huge (most comic book movie fans are always wary of the phrase “gritty reboot”), but even so, the film still managed to disappoint. Too much is changed from the comic book source material, characters are unlikable, and the plot has been butchered by studio interference and lengthy reshoots. Somehow, even though not much was expected of this movie, Fant4stic (as the movie came to be known) failed to deliver on what little excitement fans could muster.


    • 15 Terrible Actors That Played Iconic Superheroes


      Sue Storm just seems like one of those characters that the movies just can’t get right. The first big budget attempt to bring Marvel’s First Family to life in 2005 is regarded as a misstep by most comic book fans. The sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, was less of a stumble and more of a complete stagger into an open bear-trap. And amongst the underwhelming cast, Alba is undoubtedly the weakest actor of the main four.

      The same criticisms that are usually leveled at the actress were all present and correct when it came to her portrayal of the Invisible Woman. She’s not particularly convincing as a top scientist, and her dull delivery and robotic mannerisms take away from what should be an interesting and capable character. In Rise of the Silver Surfer, she becomes the emotional center of the movie, empathizing with the shiny herald, and it doesn’t work in the slightest, leaving many critics and audiences alike cold to the attempt to humanize the Sentinel of the Spaceways. As Fox canned a potential sequel to their 2015 reboot and have been tight-lipped about the franchise’s future ever since, it’s hard to know if we’ll ever see a version of the Four that warrants their fantastic moniker, but we’re holding out hope that it’ll happen someday.


  7. In most superhero movies, you have one central character getting the superpowers. In the F4 Movies, you have to start by giving all four characters superpowers at the same time, so you have to go through the superhero learning curve sequence with four people. When you make it too long, the rest of the movie suffers, if its too short, the characters will be called Mary/Gary Sues with a lack of character. Avengers worked in part because it was built off of the character origin movies. The characters had already had their learning curves and had become heroes.



      The Fantastic Four could work in the MCU, but I think you’d have to tweak the concept a bit. Whereas Captain America is a Rip Van Winkle story, that Steve Rogers is always the man out of time, make the Fantastic Four the bleeding edge of the MCU, that Reed Richards was the Elon Musk of his day. In 1961, they set out on some sort of inter-dimensional science expedition. They end up getting bombarded with cosmic rays, landing in, say, the Negative Zone. They’re trapped in the Negative Zone for a couple of weeks, figuring out their powers as they fight back the forces of some hairy guy named Blastaar. They beat Blastaar and figure out a way to get back to the positive universe, maybe through teleportation or some kind of space portal that collapses space-time. Only, when they come back, it’s now 2019. So they come back, and the FF are still ahead of the curve in terms of technology, and achieve fame and fortune as they readily embrace the popularity of cheerful superheroics in a world that is fearful of Iron Man and Captain America types (after the near destruction of the earth in Age of Ultron and the big superhero fight in Germany in Civil War).

      It’d be a neat reversal of the Cap story, that he feels like he can never fit in, when the FF all too easily adapt themselves to the twenty-first century. I think that Doctor Doom, Annihilus, or Galactus are too heavy of big bads to do the first FF movie, whereas Blastaar is powerful enough to pose a threat, but a deep cut into the comics history. And he could serve as a foothold to tie the Negative Zone to Marvel cosmic for a proper Annihilation movie by having him team up with Annihilus to try to conquer the positive universe.


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