Comic Strip: ‘Fantastic Four’ Drama, ‘Suicide Squad’ Monsters and Other News to Ponder
ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie/TV news items. From Marvel to DC and points in between, if it pertains to costumed comic book heroes, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, Channing Tatum can’t find a director for Gambit, Frank Grillo wraps on Captain America: Civil War, and something strange shows up on the Suicide Squad set.
Why Does No One Want to Direct Gambit?
The Gambit movie is apparently happening, even if star Channing Tatum is the only guy who seems truly enthused by the concept. The film is nowhere close to production, but Tatum is already talking about it to whoever will listen, going on about creating a unique origin story and prepping his Cajun accent. Our adoration for this man somehow manages to outweigh our disinterest in solo Gambit adventure, so he already has that much going for him. This is going to be all about execution — Tatum’s passion can only take this so far. He’s going to need a director who can actually deliver something fresh.
And to Tatum’s credit, he’s been pursuing some very, very interesting directors who would probably make a superhero movie unlike any we have ever seen before. Unfortunately, they have all said no.
Tatum is a smart guy. Surely he knows how easy it is to screw up a superhero movie. He knows that the best movies in this genre have been made by people with strong visions. And that’s why he (supposedly) went after Darren Aronfosky, who had previously been courted by Hugh Jackman for The Wolverine. When that didn’t work out, he went to Bennett Miller, who had directed Tatum to much acclaim in Foxcatcher, but he also declined. Yes, there is an alternate timeline where the Gambit movie is directed by the wild auteur behind The Fountain. In another universe, the Oscar nominated director of Moneyball would be directing the first solo adventure of Remy LeBeau.
The saga of fascinating directors saying no to Tatum continued this week. In the latest episode of the Meet the Movie Press podcast, it was revealed that Gareth Evans (The Raid) and J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) have also been approached, but neither bit. You won’t find two directors more different than the staid, assured Chandor and the frenetic, insane Evans, but they both have one thing in common: they are in-demand, wildly talented, and aren’t even close to being the first names you’d think about when it comes to comic book movies.
Every actor wants a superhero gig these days. However, these choices are telling – Tatum doesn’t just want to be in a superhero movie, he wants to be in a really good superhero movie. The only problem is that the guys who could make a truly unique movie aren’t interested. And can you blame them? They surely saw what happened to Gavin Hood after X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They know that every director is one high profile bomb away from never working in this town again. Miller, Chandor, Evans and Aronofsky have found plenty of success telling their stories on the outskirts of the Hollywood system, so why should they risk it all on a movie where a studio will try to micromanage every decision?
Tatum has built his career on making smart choices and working with interesting people, but Gambit will probably end up utilizing the services of a talented journeyman. The Wolverine ultimately went with James Mangold and the resulting film pleased audiences and critics alike. Still, we hope Tatum keeps on pursuing these left field choices. Maybe we live in the timeline where a really nutty Gambit movie gets made.
Superhero Movie News, Straight From the Source
When it was announced that Frank Grillo was officially joining Captain America: Civil War, everyone assumed that Crossbones would be a major villain (if not the major villain). It looks like we may have been wrong. Grillo took to Instagram to reveal that he has finished his work on the film, which just began filming a few weeks ago.
If there was any doubt about this, Chris Evans chimed in on Twitter to bid Grillo farewell.
Since photos have shown Grillo battling Evans on an Atlanta set (which will end up being a Wakandan market in the finished film), we know that he’s involved in at least one major action scene, but could this be his only scene? The official synopsis for the film says that the showdown between Captain America and Iron Man is triggered by some kind of violent incident that brings the international hammer down on the Avengers. It’s possible that this Wakdandan market scene is that incident and that this clash between Crossbones and Cap is the catalyst that drives the rest of the movie. That would make Grillo’s involvement in the film vital and significant, even if he’s not playing a huge part.
Or he is playing a huge part and the rest of his scenes were shot super-quietly. We shall see.
Meanwhile, more drama swirled around the Fantastic Four reboot. Superhero News posted a report about how the most recent reshoots (which were happening as late as last month) were handled by X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, not original director Josh Trank. The report cited poor test screenings and general dissatisfaction with Trank’s work, which ties into the gossipy rumors about his on-set behavior from a few weeks ago.
But then Trank took to Twitter to shut all of this down:
Trank has not been quiet about the personal allegations the internet has leveled against him, calling out various reports about his troubled set as being total fabrications. However, we do know that his movie has been undergoing incredibly late reshoots. We do know that something caused him to lose that Star Wars gig. There is something going on here and, in all honesty, it’s probably none of our business. In the end, this is between Trank and 20th Century Fox.
Trank is a talented guy and we want Fantastic Four to be good. Really. Truly. Honestly. It’s just hard to avert your eyes from everyone’s dirty laundry when it keeps on getting dragged into public view.
Let’s end this little section digging into something that we don’t understand that’s actually fun and weird and potentially really interesting! Because it’s Tuesday, another batch of Suicide Squad set photos have emerged, but these images offer something we haven’t seen before: strange, disgusting monsters! Yes, this jam-packed movie apparently has room for whatever the hell these things are.
So let’s take a moment to talk about what they could be. Underneath all of that weird (fungal?) growth, they appear to be wearing uniforms of some kind. So we can possibly assume that these are soldiers who have been transformed into something. That something could be a chemical weapon of some kind, which could be what Task Force X is trying to stop. It could just as easily be the result of a spell cast by the Enchantress, who has not been seen in any of these set pictures yet. Or it could be something else entirely. Despite all of the set photos, we still know precious little about the plot of this movie. In any case, Suicide Squad now features a tattooed Joker and otherworldly monsters, which means it’s officially the weirdest superhero movie ever made and we haven’t even seen a frame of it.
The Story of Justice League: Mortal Will Soon be Told
It’s one of the great What If? stories of the superhero movie age: About a decade ago, George Miller almost directed a Justice League movie, only for the project to get shut down at the literal last minute. The story of what happened will now be chronicled in a new documentary.
In retrospect, it seems insane that a superhero movie from the director of Mad Max: Fury Road never got made, but feel free to jump in a time machine and peruse the internet at the time. You’ll find a very different story. The online reaction to Justice League: Mortal was downright toxic before a single frame was shot, with professionals and online commenters alike complaining about the cast of young unknowns. Those with short memories ranted about how the director of Babe: Pig in the City was making this movie, forgetting that the same man had also made The Road Warrior. When the film ultimately fell apart for a variety of other reasons, there was much celebration. It was an ugly time. How often does the internet actually celebrate a legendary filmmaker not getting the chance to run wild with the most famous superheroes of all time?
The untitled documentary is still in the earliest possible stages (it doesn’t have funding and it hasn’t locked down key figures as interview subjects), but this feels like the right time to tell this story. Everyone is still high on Fury Road and everyone feels like a real dummy for having doubted Miller in the first place. Behind-the-scenes stories about unfinished movies have led to great docs before (see Lost in La Mancha and Jordorowsky’s Dune for starters), but this prove especially interesting. With Warner Bros. currently working overtime to build their new DC shared universe, resurfaced details about Justice League: Mortal could produce a “the grass is always greener” effect, with fandom embracing a long-dead movie that could never disappoint them over a new series of films that already has people on edge. Let’s wait and see if Warner Bros. will even let this thing get made.