“Tone.” It’s a word we’ve heard a lot lately. From the dark tone of Batman v Superman, the adventurous tone of Captain America: Civil War and tone-related reshoots on Rogue One, everyone is talking about tone. And now tone is being blamed for much of the Fantastic Four’s failure.
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Fantastic Four writer/producer Simon Kinberg talked about the film’s shortcomings, wisely not blaming any one thing in particular, but just an overall mistake in tone.
I don’t think that there is, in any movie that doesn’t work, a single decision that is the reason that that movie doesn’t work. I think that there were many decisions we made along the way that led to a movie that people didn’t like and to a movie that I would do differently next time. I think the biggest takeaway for me [is that] the tone of the movie, while really interesting and ambitious, ran counter to the DNA of the source material. I think the source material of Fantastic Four is bright, optimistic, poppy in tone. There’s a sort of plucky spirit to those characters, and we made a darker, sort of body-horror kind of version of Fantastic Four, which again as I say it now sounds really interesting and cerebrally ambitious, but isn’t necessarily Fantastic Four.
Now, he’s obviously right. The Fantastic Four most people know from the comics doesn’t feel like the Fantastic Four he and director Josh Trank put on screen. But was that the main problem? No. The problem was the movie didn’t make any damn sense. In fact, the tone actually works for part of the movie, it’s just that as a whole it all falls to pieces.
And yet, Kinberg still believes these characters will return. Later, he said this:
[Fantastic Four] is a big part of the plan going forward. Like I say, the biggest lesson learned is that Fantastic Four is a great comic book that has its own tone and voice, and we need to let that lead us… I would love to continue making movies with that cast.
Well, the Human Torch, Michael B. Jordan, has already moved to another superhero property, Black Panther. And the planned sequel was shelved long ago. Maybe the characters will pop up in the next X-Men movie? That could be interesting, but really, it feels like a longshot.