ⓘ Fantastic Four (2005 film)

Fantastic Four (2005 film)

ⓘ Fantastic Four (2005 film)

Fantastic Four is a 2005 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name. It was directed by Tim Story, and released by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and Kerry Washington.

This was the second live-action Fantastic Four film to be filmed. A previous attempt, titled The Fantastic Four, was a B-movie produced by Roger Corman that ultimately went unreleased. Fantastic Four was released in the United States on July 8, 2005. It received mixed reviews but was a commercial success. A sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, was released in 2007. A reboot was released in 2015.


1. Plot

Dr. Reed Richards, a genius but timid and bankrupt physicist, is convinced that evolution was triggered millions of years ago on earth by clouds of cosmic energy in space, and has calculated that one of these clouds is soon going to pass near Earth. Together with his friend, the gruff yet gentle astronaut Ben Grimm, Reed convinces his equally brilliant but conceited Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmate Dr. Victor von Doom, now CEO of Von Doom Industries, to allow him access to his privately owned space station to test the effects of exposure to the cloud on biological samples. Von Doom agrees, in exchange for control over the experiment and a majority of the profits from whatever benefits it brings. He brings aboard his beautiful chief genetics researcher and Reeds ex-girlfriend from MIT Susan Storm and her hot-headed brother Johnny Storm, a private astronaut who was Bens subordinate at NASA but his superior on the mission.

The quintet travels to space to observe the cosmic energy clouds, but Reed has miscalculated and the clouds materialize well ahead of schedule. Reed, Susan and Johnny leave the shielded station to rescue Ben who has gone on a space-walk to place the samples, and Victor closes the shield behind them. Ben receives full exposure out in space, while the others receive a more limited dose within the station. They return home but soon begin to develop strange powers. Reed is able to stretch like rubber; Susan can become invisible and create force fields, especially when angered; Johnny can engulf himself in fire at temperatures in excess of 4000 K erroneously described as supernova-like in the film, and is able to fly; and Ben is transformed into a large, rock-like creature with superhuman strength and durability. Victor meanwhile faces a backlash from his stockholders due to the publicity from the failed mission, and has a scar on his face from an exploding control console he was near during the clouds pass.

Ben returns home to see his fiancee, but she cannot handle his new appearance and flees. He goes to brood on Brooklyn Bridge and accidentally causes a traffic pile-up while stopping a man from committing suicide. The four use their various powers to contain the damage and prevent anyone from being hurt. While the public cheers them for their efforts, Ben sees his fiancee leave her engagement ring on the ground and run. Reed hands a heartbroken Ben the ring and vows to find a way to turn him back to normal. The media dubs them "The Fantastic Four" for their efforts. Victor watches the news story and is told that his company is lost now, the groups fame overriding the companys fate with the media. The four move into Reeds lab in the Baxter Building to study their abilities and find a way to return Ben to normal. Victor offers his support in their efforts but blames Reed for the missions failure, the lights flickering as he grows enraged.

Reed tells the group he will construct a machine to re-create the storm and reverse its effect on their bodies, but warns it could possibly accelerate them instead. Meanwhile, Victor continues to mutate, his arm turning into an organic metal and allowing him to produce bolts of electricity, and he begins plotting to use his new powers to take his revenge. Victor drives a wedge between Ben and Reed by telling Ben Reed has no desire to change himself back, as the groups research has allowed him to rekindle his relationship with Susan. Reed and Ben argue, Ben walking out in a rage. This motivates Reed to attempt the machine on himself, but he cannot generate the power needed to push the storm to critical mass. Doom hears Reed tell Susan this through security cameras and has Ben brought to the lab. Ben is placed in the machine and Doom uses his abilities to produce the electricity needed to power it, turning Ben back to normal and accelerating Dooms condition, causing much of his body to turn to metal. Victor knocks the human Ben unconscious and kidnaps Reed.

Victor - now calling himself Doom - dons a metal mask to hide his physical disfigurations and incapacitates Reed using a super-cooling unit. Doom fires a heat-seeking missile at the Baxter Building to kill Johnny, and Johnny flies through the city to evade it, lighting a garbage barge on fire to trick it. Susan rushes to confront Doom as Ben begins to regret his decision to turn normal. Susan frees Reed and battles Doom but is outmatched - Ben arrives to save her, transformed into The Thing again by reusing the machine. The battle spills into the streets, and the four assemble to battle Doom. Johnny and Susan combine their powers to wrap Doom in an inferno of intense heat, and Ben and Reed douse him with cold water, inducing thermal shock and freezing Doom in place. As an epilogue, Ben informs Reed that he has accepted his condition with the help of Alicia Masters, a blind artist for whom he has developed feelings, and the team decide to embrace their roles as superheroes and unite officially as the Fantastic Four. Reed proposes marriage to Susan, who accepts and they share a kiss. Meanwhile, Dooms statuesque remains are being transported back to his homeland of Latveria when the dockmasters electronic manifest briefly experiences electronic interference.


2. Cast

  • Jessica Alba as Susan Storm / Invisible Woman
  • Maria Menounos as Nurse
  • Kevin McNulty as Jimmy OHoolihan
  • Ioan Gruffudd as Dr. Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic
  • Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm / The Thing
  • Stan Lee as Willie Lumpkin
  • Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom / Doctor Doom
  • Chris Evans as Johnny Storm / Human Torch
  • Hamish Linklater as Leonard
  • Laurie Holden as Debbie McIlvane
  • Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters
  • Michael Kopsa as Ned Cecil

Rachel McAdams, Ali Larter and Keri Russell were considered for Sue Storm.

As in almost all of the previous Marvel Comics-based films, Fantastic Four co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance. He is Willie Lumpkin, the postal worker who greets the team on their way to the Baxter Building elevator. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Logan / Wolverine in a scene in which Reed Richards changes his face to resemble Jackmans portrayal of Wolverine in an attempt to woo Sue Storm; the scene was deleted from the theatrical cut of Fantastic Four and was restored in the "Extended Cut" of the film. Canadian broadcasters Terry David Mulligan and Ben Mulroney, and American broadcaster Lauren Sanchez make cameos as reporters. Cameos during the X Games scenes include professional freestyle motocross riders Kenny Bartram and Brian Deegan, and reporter Jamie Little.


3. Production

In 1983, German producer Bernd Eichinger met with Stan Lee at his home in Los Angeles to explore obtaining an option for a movie based on the Fantastic Four. The option was not available until three years later, when Eichingers Constantin Film company obtained it from Marvel Comics for a price the producer called "not enormous", and which has been estimated to be $250.000. Warner Bros and Columbia Pictures showed interest, but were cautious of Eichingers $40–45 million budget. With the option scheduled to expire on December 31, 1992, Eichinger asked Marvel for an extension. With none forthcoming, Eichinger planned to retain his option by producing a low-budget Fantastic Four film, reasoning, he said in 2005, "They didnt say I had to make a big movie." In 1992 he approached B-movie specialist Roger Corman on the idea of producing the film on a $5 million budget in order to keep the rights, which he eventually decided to bring down to $1 million. In 1994, the adaptation, titled The Fantastic Four, had its trailer released to theaters, and its cast and director went on a promotional tour, however the film was not officially released. The film was accused of being an ashcan copy, meaning it was only made to keep the license. Lee and Eichinger stated that the actors had no idea of the situation, instead believing they were creating a proper release. Marvel Comics paid in exchange for the films negative, so 20th Century Fox could go ahead with the big-budget adaptation, as well as a possible spin-off film starring the Silver Surfer for summer 1998.

Fox hired Chris Columbus to write and direct Fantastic Four in 1995. He developed a screenplay with Michael France, but decided to step down as director and focus on producing Fantastic Four under his 1492 Pictures company. Peter Segal was hired to direct in April 1997, and was replaced by Sam Weisman by the end of the year. Fox brought in Sam Hamm to rewrite the script in April 1998 in an attempt to lower the $165 million projected budget. In February 1999, with development taking longer than expected, Eichinger and Fox signed a deal with Marvel to extend the control of the film rights for another two years, with a summer 2001 release planned, and hiring Raja Gosnell to direct. However, Gosnell decided to do Scooby Doo instead and dropped out in October 2000. He was replaced by Peyton Reed in April 2001 and Mark Frost was brought on board for another rewrite. Reed departed in July 2003, explaining in 2015, "I developed it for the better part of a year with three different sets of writers. But it became clear after a while that Fox had a very different movie in mind and they were also chasing a release date … so we ended up parting company." Tim Story was signed to direct in April 2004, after Fox was impressed with his early cut of Taxi. Simon Kinberg wrote uncredited drafts of the script. After seeing The Incredibles, the producers of the film were forced to make significant script changes and add more special effects because of similarities.


4. Release

The American premiere of Fantastic Four was moved from July 1, 2005, to the week of July 8 to avoid competition with Steven Spielbergs motion picture War of the Worlds, during its first week. Fantastic Four opened in 3.602 movie theaters in the United States, and increased to 3.619 theaters in the following week.


4.1. Release Box office

In paid attendance, Fantastic Four was a commercial success, and achieved the top position in gross income, making $56.061.504 during its first weekend, from 3602 theaters. By the end of 2005, Fantastic Four had accumulated a gross income of about $330.579.700 from theaters around the world, about $154.696.080 of this coming in the United States.


4.2. Release Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 27% based on 212 reviews with an average rating of 4.5/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "Marred by goofy attempts at wit, subpar acting, and bland storytelling, Fantastic Four is a mediocre attempt to bring Marvels oldest hero team to the big screen." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 40 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.

Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post noted that it was "a movie more based on character than plot" and "mostly an origins tale". He called it "a funky, fun film version of the famous Marvel superhero" but was critical of the last twenty minutes. Joe Leydon of Variety called the film "unpretentious" but also "wildly uneven". James Berardinelli of ReelViews having been a fan of the comics, found the film disappointing saying "This movie is more like a B-grade comic book adaptation than the A-list production it should have been." Berardinelli praised Chiklis for a standout performance despite being buried in makeup: "Fantastic Four has its good points - there are individual scenes that work" and said there are "moments of surprise and excitement.but the tempos off, beats are missed, and the production ends up sounding out-of-tune." Entertainment Weekly s Owen Gleiberman described the film as "like something left over from the 60s" and compared it unfavorably to other contemporary films such as Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins, and The Incredibles.


4.3. Release Accolades

At the Saturn Awards, Fantastic Four was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film, but lost the trophy to Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. It was given two nominations at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards including Best Hero for Jessica Alba she lost to Christian Bale for Batman Begins and Best On-Screen Team for Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans and Ioan Gruffudd they lost to Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson for Wedding Crashers. Alba was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her performances in both this film and Into the Blue, but lost to Jenny McCarthy for Dirty Love.


5. Home release

The main version of Fantastic Four on VHS and DVD was released in December 2005. This version had some changes from the one shown in cinemas. Some of these changes included the following:

  • The biggest change is of the scene with Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudds characters looking toward the Statue of Liberty. Similar lines are used in the DVD version, but the version on DVD replaces that with the pair in the planetarium, where they discuss their feelings for each other without an argumentative tone. The DVD includes the theatrical version as a bonus feature, but instead of Reed forming a square jaw, as he does in the theatrical version, he makes his skin look like that of Wolverine of the X-Men comics. The actor Gruffudd breaks the fourth wall and looks directly at the camera as he does this. The extended cut includes this as part of the movie, along with a longer version of the scene in the planetarium.
  • There is a scene where Reed and Sue are in a storage room of the Baxter Building. On one of the shelves is a robot that is supposed to be H.E.R.B.I.E. from the Fantastic Four animated cartoon series from 1978.

The movie was also released on VHS the same day, it was later released on Blu-ray on November 14, 2006.


5.1. Home release Extended cut

In June 2007, an extended cut DVD of Fantastic Four was released. It incorporated about 20 minutes of deleted scenes, and also included a preview of the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The DVD expanded on The Things relationships with Alicia Masters, Doctor Dooms manipulations to break up the group, and the Human Torchs womanizing, and how it backfires.


5.2. Home release Film novelization

Fantastic Four received a novelization written by popular Marvel Comics writer Peter David, which included several scenes not in the movie.


6. Soundtrack

Fantastic 4: The Album is the official soundtrack to the movie Fantastic Four. The soundtrack features two supergroups that were formed specifically for the album: Loser former Marilyn Manson guitarist/writer John 5 and T.F.F.

An album of John Ottmans score was released by Varese Sarabande on July 12, 2005.


7. Future


A sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, was released on June 15, 2007, with director Tim Story and the cast returning to the fold. The film had a slightly improved critical reception but lower financial gross than its predecessor.

2015 reboot

When plans for a third film fell through, 20th Century Fox rebooted the series with 2015s Fantastic Four. The film experienced a worse critical reception than the original films and failed at the box office, leading to the cancellation of a sequel planned for a 2017 release.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

In 2019, after Disney successfully acquired Fox, the film rights of Fantastic Four were reverted to Marvel Studios, with plans to integrate the characters into Marvel Cinematic Universe confirmed at Marvels 2019 San Diego Comic-Con Hall-H panel.