Why the Biggest ‘Fantastic Four’ Action Scene Was Cut From the Movie
When Fantastic Four stumbled into theaters two weekends ago, the audiences that did show up noticed that the movie in theaters was not the movie being sold in the trailers. There were a ton of scenes and elements present in the marketing that were absent from the finished film. We even catalogued them right here. The full details of what went down (and what went wrong) on this set will probably remain covered up for a while yet, but details have begun to slowly trickle out. Now we know exactly what happened to the biggest missing scene of them all. Sort of.
The folks at EW put their noses to the ground and came back with everything you want to know about this missing scene. You know it from the trailers – The Thing (Jamie Bell) is dropped from an airplane and into some kind of military installation, where he proceeds to wreak havoc. There is a spot in the film (right after a sudden “one year later” time jump) where this much-needed action scene seems to belong, but it’s no longer there.
Here’s what was supposed to happen. Ben Grimm was going to be dropped from the bomber into a terrorist camp. He was going to slam into the ground as a bunch of soldiers looked on. Here’s how EW describes the rest of the scene:
Rather than some elegant, balletic action sequence, The Thing moves slowly and deliberately. He’s in no hurry. The storytelling goal was to show the futility of firepower against him as he casually demolishes the terrorists. It’s a blue-collar kind of heroism.
When it becomes clear this rock-beast cannot be stopped, the surviving Chechen rebels make a run for it – and that’s when a hail of gunfire finishes them off.
From the shadows of the surrounding forest, a team of Navy SEALS emerge with their guns drawn and smoking. The cavalry has arrived, but the enemy has already been subdued.
All of that aligns with what we’ve seen from this action beat in the trailers. So why was it cut? Well, this is where the backbiting begins. No one is sure who screwed over who on the set of Fantastic Four. Was 20th Century Fox dominating Josh Trank, the young visionary director? Or was the studio simply trying to rescue a disaster from a filmmaker who was in way over his head? EW’s sources have stories from both sides and neither align:
Those close to Fox say Trank was indecisive, and couldn’t figure out if he needed the scene, going back and forth before finally deciding it wasn’t necessary. They cite it as another example of a director out-of-control, unsure of what he wants or how to execute it.
Others close to Trank say the filmmaker always wanted the sequence, but was forced to cut it when the studio pared back the budget at the start of production. They say Trank created a detailed previsualization of the scene – essentially, an animated version of what it should look like – that allows digital artists to begin creating effects.
Our best guess is that a little bit of both is true. This is not a tale of heroes and villains. This is a tale of men and women not being on the same page and suffering for it. Trank probably shot a bad movie, but the studio’s attempt to fix it resulted in a movie that feels like a schizophrenic disaster. EW elaborates on this, saying that Fox ultimately agreed to finish this big action scene as long as Trank was not involved in its filming. The results were unsatisfactory and he cut it anyway.
For more details, make sure you click the link above. All of this reporting on Fantastic Four may feel like kicking a dead horse at some point, but right now, it’s a fascinating and important train wreck. This is just how wrong Hollywood studio filmmaking can go. It deserves to be studied.