MovieBob - Intermission
Why Is Fox Hiding The Fantastic Four?

Bob Chipman | 22 Aug 2014 12:00
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classic fantastic four cover

Of course, those are both (however plausible) "fan theories" in a sense, as they'd both serve to embolden the resolve of fans who're already pulling for the film to succeed and be a big hit. Alternately, fans who aren't as enthused and would like to see Fox take a black eye and let the franchise slip back to Marvel Studios so that Reed Richards can turn up and chat with Iron Man in the post-credits scene of Avengers 3. "Cosmic rays, huh? Kind of a stretch if you ask me." "Funny you should that, Stark..."

Not that that's especially possible. Fox isn't in the business of giving these things back -- any studio that releases X-Men Origins: Wolverine without demanding a whole department's worth of development VP's commit seppuku in penance is clearly beyond the point of shame. But either way, I'm of late given to wonder if it's fans that are the reason for Fox's trepidation. Not because they don't have faith that the product is good -- but because they don't think fans will give it a chance.

Does Fox think they've made a Fantastic Four movie that fans will bury before they've even seen it?

Real talk: No one is happier with the mainstream pop-culture dominance of onetime fanboy-centric material -- and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the monarch of this new entertainment kingdom -- than me. I'm a complete mark for this stuff, particularly Marvel's "the comics were already good, so just get as close to that up onscreen as possible" approach.

But while Marvel has mastered the art of turning their comics into "authentic" movies, what they've perfected is the art of drawing favorable responses from the "ascended fanboy" press (think Badass Digest, Hitfix, AICN, Latino Review) that dominates the coverage of this genre and thus (at present) the entirety of the blockbuster scene. What they've exposed (and mined greedily) is the dirty secret that, for all the talk of "hard to please" fans, that audience is actually pretty easy to "work" if you know what you're doing... and what Marvel knows is that simple details like comics-accurate costuming or background teases for obscure fan-favorites or reminders that, yes, continuity has finally come to the movies, can get fans "rooting to like you" to a powerful degree.

And now that fandom has a studio in Marvel that so frequently delivers on its most common immediate desire -- "Just make it like the comics, because that's what we've based most of our hopes around!" -- that I'm noticing fans as a whole becoming a lot less open to even the possibility that a filmmaker might have a divergent idea that's as good in a different way (or maybe even better!) as flipping to the relevant page of The Official Handbook, pointing to a George Perez drawing and saying "do that." "Make it just like the comic version!" and "Do what Marvel would do!" express roughly the same sentiment, but the second one has the appearance of being backed up by financial evidence.

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