The Curse of the Four
Hello constant reader and welcome back to Graphic Nerdity! Today , I want to take you on an adventure. An adventure of poor writing, disappointing casting choices, and a sea of lies. As you may have guessed by the title, we will be looking at the rocky road of the Fantastic Four films. This story, however, may not begin where you’d expect!
Most folks are aware (even if they haven’t watched them) of the three major motion picture Fantastic Four (FF) films. But what many do not know is that this tale actually began several years before the 2005 20th Century Fox film “Fantastic Four” with a much different movie, “The Fantastic Four”, produced by New Horizon Studios in 1994. At the time, Constantin Film held the rights to the FF characters and, in an effort to keep these rights, started production on the film. Cool right?
Well, that is where the tale gets grim. You see, the company never had any plans to release this film. It was being made only to hold the rights. Basically, the contract stated that the company must use the characters in a film or face losing the rights back to Marvel Comics. Constantin had plans though. They wanted to sub-license the characters over to 20th Century Fox in order to really capitalize on the property. After all, this small company had no real hopes to make a big budget comic book film, but they knew Fox would pay them to try.
So, what’s the problem with that? I mean, companies sub-license to other companies all the time. Well, remember how I said that a film was being produced in 1994? The problem was that no one bothered to tell anyone who was involved in that project what the score was! You can probably guess what happened from here but allow me to fill in the blanks. The cast and crew, thinking that they were going to be making this huge amazing comic book movie, busted their asses to do just that! Long stressful hours, promotional tours and tons of money later, it never got released.
That’s not the end of the story for this film though! Someone (no one has ever admitted who) from the crew of that 1994 film stole and released a copy of the film. If one were so inclined one might acquire a bootleg of the movie from comic conventions, private collectors or other nefarious means (or watch it here). There is a documentary that was made in 2015 about the film called “Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four”.
I am telling you, dear reader, about this film so that you might understand why I feel the way that I do about the Fantastic Four property as it stands. I think that this property is, because of this phenomenal betrayal, cursed to this day. I feel like the films that have been made from 2005 to present which have been, each of them, less than successful have been doomed to fail. I also think that it is ironic that of all the attempts to make a good FF movie, the unreleased one was objectively the best! Now this might all just be hyperbole, but I do think that there is something to be said about these colossal failures. I do hope that one day, Marvel, or Disney as it were, will officially release the 1994 film, perhaps as a special features disc on whatever Fantastic Film they make next.