Everything That Was Cut From ‘Fantastic Four’ Before Its Release (That We Know About)Jacob Hall |
The fact that Fantastic Four had a disastrous shoot followed by laborious reshoots may be the worst kept Hollywood secret of all time. Even if director Josh Trank hadn’t publicly displayed his dissatisfaction with the finished movie, just about anyone who sat through this mess could tell something was wrong just from the finished product. They’d know it from the inconsistent pacing, the main characters who contribute nothing to the movie, and a climax that feels like it was cobbled together by a completely different creative team. Hell, they’d know it from Kate Mara’s terrible reshoot wig, which sticks out like, well, a bad wig.
Trank claims he has a completely different cut of this movie and we believe him. We don’t know that his cut would be any better, but it has to exist. The trailers prove it. The press leading up to the film’s release proves it. Big scenes that have been featured in every coming attraction for FF aren’t in the final movie. Characters have undergone radical changes, gaining new identities and names that are completely different than those that were announced. We don’t know the full story of what went down behind-the-scenes at Fantastic Four, but we can sort through the wreckage and try to catalog what we do know. There is probably even more that we don’t know yet too.
Ben Grimm’s Big Action Scene
Let’s start with the big one. The big action beat present in almost every single trailer and TV spot involves Ben Grimm being dropped from an airplane...
...and landing right on a Humvee. And since he’s an indestructible rock man, he’s totally unfazed, getting this badass hero shot.
This shot, presumably from the same scene, shows him walking toward the camera while bullets harmlessly bounce off his rocky facade.
As anyone who has seen the movie can attest, this scene is nowhere to be found in the finished cut. This is surprising for a number of reasons. First of all, the whole scene looks very expensive and was probably a pain in the ass to create. Second, it’s a big action beat in a movie that takes place almost entirely in under-lit labs and corridors. This movie needed another action scene.
It’s easy to see where this scene was supposed to go. Midway through the movie, Reed Richards flees the facility where he and his friends are being held captive. We then jump forward one year and see that Ben has been doing the military’s dirty work for some time. We catch brief glimpses of the Thing in action, tearing apart tanks and wreaking havoc, but it’s seen briefly on television monitors. At some point, we were probably supposed to get a first-hand look at this action but, for reasons unknown, the scene hit the cutting-room floor. And it’s a shame – that’s the exact stretch where the movie is crying out for an action beat.
Wherefore Art Thou, Mole Man?
In the finished film, Tim Blake Nelson plays “Dr. Allen,” Dr. Storm’s sleazy boss who can’t wait to hand over the Fantastic Four to the government and exploit their abilities for their “military applications.” However, Nelson wasn’t always playing this character. At some point between when he signed on to the film and its release, he got a totally new identity.
He was originally supposed to play Harvey Elder, the character who ultimately becomes Mole Man, an early Fantastic Four villain. Nelson himself confirmed this when he was asked about the rumors floating around the internet concerning him joining the film:
Yes, it's pretty much closed, with me playing Harvey Elder, who becomes the Mole Man. Without going into detail, the script has as much soul as it does action, and it has a lot of action.
Other reports suggested that the first film would establish Elder so he could go on to become the main villain in the sequel.
This isn’t the first time Nelson played a watered-down version of a Marvel villain who would never got a second shot on the big screen. In The Incredible Hulk, he played Samuel Sterns, aka the Leader, one of Bruce Banner’s most powerful foes. That film even went as far as letting us see him begin his gamma-induced transformation into a psychic baddie. The same can’t be said for Fantastic Four, which seems to have changed his name in post-production before adding a scene where his head gets Scanners-ed by Victor Von Doom.
Early in the movie, Reed Richards’ teacher mockingly asks the young genius about the flying car he’s working on. In the finished movie, it feels like a one-off joke – here’s a kid so ambitious and nutty that he put aside his plans for a flying car so he could build a teleportation device!
But what if there was more to this. What if this line was originally there to set up Reed Richards building an actual flying car? Ahem:
The Fantasticar may have a goofy name, but it’s a mainstay in the comic book world and the team’s chief mode of transportation. A screenplay that wasn’t hastily rewritten for a film that was being hastily reshot could have humorously laid the groundwork for Reed to build a flying car in time for the film’s climax ... which was presumably hastily reconceived and no longer required the services of a flying automobile.
When Doom Was Not Doom
Early in production, Toby Kebbell got Fantastic Four fans all over the internet annoyed when he revealed that his take on Doctor Doom would be significantly different than the traditional take on the character. Here’s the quote:
He’s Victor Domashev, not Victor Von Doom in our story. And I’m sure I’ll be sent to jail for telling you that. The Doom in ours — I’m a programmer. Very anti-social programmer. And on blogging sites I’m “Doom”.
To be fair, he is anti-social in the movie, but he’s depicted as being a Reed Richards-esque super-scientist, not a programmer. And there are definitely no blogging sites and he certainly doesn’t go by Doom on those blogging sites. In the final cut, he’s reverted to his traditional name: Victor Von Doom. However, careful audiences will note that the name “Von Doom” is only spoken aloud by offscreen characters, which suggests that the name was dubbed after the fact.
These changes suggest a hasty and sloppy attempt to revert this hugely reimagined Doom to his more traditional comic book counterpart, with disastrous results. If “Victor Domashev” was even remotely interesting at one point, these cuts and changes have removed every aspect of his personality. All that’s left is a one-dimensional psycho that still doesn’t look or act like the traditional Doctor Doom.
There also appears to be a key scene missing. When Victor returns from Planet Zero after a year of isolation, his mutilated body is strapped to a table and he shares a conversation with Dr. Allen. In many of the trailers, there is an alternate version of this scene where Reed pays him a visit. In the first trailer, they have this exchange:
Be ready for what's coming.
What is coming?
In other trailers, the exchange has been modified.
Be ready for what's coming.
What is coming?
This dialogue could have been pulled from elsewhere in the movie and laid over this scene strictly for the trailer. But either way, Reed and Victor don’t have a proper conversation at this point in the movie. This scene no longer exists. The film is too busy barreling toward its lousy climax to care about building proper character relationships anymore.
Johnny Storm Probably Had More to Do
The Human Torch has the most visually astonishing super-powers of the team and he’s played by the charming Michael B. Jordan, so naturally he gets to do next-to-nothing in the actual movie. This version of Johnny Storm has been stripped to the bone. You could remove him from the movie and nothing would change.
If some of the trailers are any indication, there was a point where his trademark wiseass humor was intact. Take this line, which doesn’t seem to be present in the movie:
I'm going to need a heat resistant workshop and a big-ass sunroof.
And then there’s this scene from the trailers, which shows Johnny hard at work on his car. This scene probably existed to establish that he’s a resourceful gearhead. In the final movie, characters tell us that he’s good at fixing things, so there’s apparently no reason for a scene that actually shows us this important information.
Several trailers also feature this evocative shot of Johnny flaming on after discovering the results of Doom’s rampage. This means that there used to be a scene where our heroes actually gave a crap about the bad guy’s murder spree instead of simply leaping into battle with him.
The Changing Face of Planet Zero
Note the colors in those screenshots from the earlier Fantastic Four trailers. The glowing energy seeping out of the ground on Planet Zero is red in the previews and green in the finished movie.
Another Twitter user noted that Doom’s black-hole contraption also got a makeover between the trailers and the finished film:
Baseball and Clobbering Time
In one change that has left fans rightfully irritated, the new movie reveals that Ben Grimm’s iconic catchphrase (“It’s clobberin’ time!”) was inspired by the abuse he suffered as a young boy at the hands of his older brother. Because yes, superheroes always adopt the words of their tormenters when it comes time to punch bad guys in the face.
But what if this wasn’t always the case? What if this was added later after other key scenes were removed? This is pure speculation on our part, so bear with us.
In the trailer, we catch a glimpse of Ben Grimm playing baseball. This scene is not in the finished movie.
Other trailers double down on the baseball thing. There’s this shot of him hitting a ball at the sign advertising his family’s junkyard.
Knowing that these scenes were shot and knowing that this movie was, at some point, based on the Ultimate version of the Fantastic Four, read this page from Ultimate Fantastic Four #10, written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Stuart Immonen: