The new year, 2015, should be a year that fans of Marvel's Fantastic Four celebrate and look forward to in joy and expectation. Instead, 2015 is the year that Marvel Comics cancels the ongoing Fantastic Four series in supposed reaction to the way Fox Studios is producing the new Fantastic Four movie. The news surrounding the production of the new, rebooted FF movie has many long-time fans up in arms, and led Marvel to cancel the FF title this year.
The Fantastic Four was Marvel's first new superhero comic book title in the 1960s, and launched the Marvel Age of Comics. After the success of the Fantastic Four (or FF, as they are often referred to), Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the Marvel creative Bullpen followed up the success of the FF with other new titles and characters: Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, and many more. The Fantastic Four, though, was the spark that ignited the Marvel fire in the 1960s. They were literally and figuratively, Marvel's First Family.
Why is there a controversy over the Fantastic Four now? Back in the 1990s, Marvel faced severe financial problems and, and to make money, licensed the movie rights to many of their better-known characters to Sony Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox. Because of these deals, all of the cinematic rights to the characters Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four, are not in the control of Marvel anymore. Fox Studios controls the Fantastic Four, and released two FF films, in 2005 and in 2007. Neither film was a real hit with long-time FF fans, nor did they make the money that the studio expected. Fast forward to 2014, and Fox begins production of a new, rebooted FF movie that proves to be controversial long before it hits the silver screen.
Fantastic Four Movie Cast-Original
So what is the problem? News about the production, along with interviews with the principal actors and the director has raised alarms among Fantastic Four fans that this new movie will veer far away from the canon and characters they know and love. Kate Mara, who plays Susan Storm in the movie, stated that the story is not taken from existing comic book material. That got fans upset.
The casting and changes to the characters has also been a sore point for many fans who want to see their heroes look like they do in the comics. In this new film, Susan Storm and her brother Johnny Storm are not siblings by blood, and Johnny is played by African-American actor Michael B. Jordan. In the comics, both Sue and Johnny Storm are white, blue-eyed, blonde siblings from the same biological parents. Also, reports on the villain speak to serious changes in Dr. Doom. In the casting notes the villain is named Victor Domashev, not Victor Von Doom.
Fantastic Four Movie Cast 2015
Actor Toby Kebbel, who plays Domashev, is quoted in an interview with Collider:
" 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'."
I guess that means he is not the dictator of Latveria anymore...
Reports also indicate that the origin story of the Fantastic Four will also be significantly different from the traditional origin seen in the comics. Obviously, Doom's origin and background will also be different.
Also, Diamond Select Toys, which is licensed to produce Marvel figurines and such, announced they were not producing more FF stuff.
The final nail in the coffin came at the New York Comic-Con, Marvel announced the end of the Fantastic Four comic book series, ending the title at #645, which will be a triple-sized behemoth (a behemoth is a type of a Thing, by the way). Why would Marvel do that? Simple, Marvel is unhappy with what Fox is doing with the Fantastic Four movie franchise, and is seeking to punish Fox by doing everything they can to not support the movie release. With the series ending in April, and no new toys out, and with Marvel writers being told to not use the FF in comics, there will be no new Fantastic Four material on shelves when the FF movie hits theaters on August 7, 2015. Some reports from Marvel suggested that the cancellation was due more to poor sales of the comic book, but sales figures from August, 2014, show that Fantastic Four #8 (which was part of the Marvel-wide Original Sin storyline), actually outsold such titles as Wolverine & The X-Men, Punisher, Nightcrawler, and Storm. The current run of FF stories in the comics is also actually quite good.
Fantastic Four #643 Cover
Comic Book Resources reported that:
"Disney’s highest single shareholder and Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter’s anger with Fox Studios over negotiations regarding the film-and-related rights to The Fantastic Four, that Marvel would cancel the Fantastic Four comic rather than provide any promotion, however small it might be, towards the Fox Studios film. Merchandise and licenses were scrapped and even Fantastic Four posters in the offices were pulled down lest Perlmutter see one and have his ire raised."
Thus, the curtain was closed on Marvel's First Family. Other reports and solicitations for future Marvel comics describe Susan Storm as being a part of the Avengers in the upcoming Time Runs Out Marvel crossover event, as the Avengers hunt down her missing husband, Reed Richards. No Fantastic Four, it seems...
Of course, the comics industry being what it is, the FF will likely return in their own book again, but most likely not until the Fantastic Four movie is long out of the theaters, and maybe not even until after the requisite DVD/Blu-Ray release.
As we go into the final months of this Fantastic Four drama, Bam Smack Pow will continue to review the final issues of the Fantastic Four comic book, provide updates on Fantastic Four news, and count down toward the release of Director Josh Trank's Fantastic Four movie in August.
If you wish to comment on anything FF-related, please do so below, and, as Johnny Storm might say..."Flame On!"
Roger Lee is a life-long comic book and sci-fi aficionado. As such, he fell into the habit of writing about the superheroes and sci-fi scenarios that he reads in the comics and books and sees on screen. Since writings on superheroes need to be shared, he has written for web audiences for years. His writings have appeared on www.comicshistoryguy.com, www.comicbookmovie.com, www.bamsmackpow.com, and now in superheroreviews.com.