Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The 'Fantastic Four' Try to Get Their Franchise Footing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The 'Fantastic Four' Try to Get Their Franchise Footing

Article excerpt

The "first family of Marvel" has had some growing pains.

While Marvel's X-Men and the Avengers have built their big screen empires into well-oiled billion-dollar franchises, the Fantastic Four have floundered with never-was and the never-should-have-been adaptations. First there was the Roger Corman-produced film that was killed before it hit theaters in 1994, and then two critically loathed but decently profitable attempts in the mid-2000s with future Captain America Chris Evans as the Human Torch.

The Fantastic Four are among Marvel's longest-running series and most beloved groups. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the scientists-turned-superheroes were relatable and wry in their interactions as a team even when they weren't fighting supervillains. When it debuted in November 1961, it was a refreshing revelation that helped inform the Marvel voice and set a path for Iron Man and Spider-Man.

The family aspect is derived from the brother-and-sister pairing of Sue and Johnny Storm, the bond between the four after they get powers, and the fact that Sue and Reed Richards eventually become Marvel's most stable couple.

But the movies have yet to get them right, or devise a structure to introduce them to fans and potential fans.

So much like Sony's two Spider-Man reboots, Fox is trying again to resurrect the first family with a cast of fresh faces in Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell, and a promising but essentially untested director at the helm in Josh Trank. The film opens Friday.

Trank's breakout, the found footage sci-fi thriller "Chronicle" was the kind of sleeper hit that can make a novice filmmaker's name in Hollywood. Produced for a mere $12 million by Fox, "Chronicle" ended up making $126 million worldwide in 2012.

It would also be the unintentional tryout that made Trank a no- brainer to revive the thematically similar "Fantastic Four." Fox set Simon Kinberg, who'd already succeeded in helping craft the worlds of "X-Men: First Class" and "X-Men: Days of Future Past," to produce and co-write the origin story.

Trank cast his "Chronicle" star Jordan as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, who suggested his "That Awkward Moment" co-star Miles Teller for the part of the genius scientist Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic. …

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