Fantastic Four never really stood a chance. A legendarily quarrelsome and disrupted production condemned it to enormous box office and critical failure, ultimately leading to director Josh Trank effectively disowning the cut that was released in theatres.
Rumours had swirled for months that the movie underwent extensive reshoots and that Trank’s behaviour on-set was highly unorthodox, described in some quarters as “erratic.” We may never know the specifics of what went on behind-the-scenes of Fantastic Four but Dr Doom actor Toby Kebbell himself has offered a new insight into the original Trank version of the movie that will most likely never see the light of day.
During an interview with The Daily Beast, Kebbell comes off as quite defensive of Trank, confirming that there was a different version of the movie that the actor quite clearly prefers.
“I tell you, the honest truth is [Trank] did cut a great film that you’ll never see. That is a shame. A much darker version, and you’ll never see it.”
Kebbell’s comments come less than a week after producer/writer Simon Kinberg pinpointed the film’s darker and grittier tone as a major failure.
Appearing on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, Kinberg said: “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.”
We don’t know how much of the tension between Trank and 20th Century Fox centred on the film’s tone, but the reshoots certainly messed with the story and structure significantly, while it reduced Kebbell’s screen-time as Doctor Doom.
“Unfortunately. I played Doom in three points: Walking down a corridor, killing the doctor and getting into the time machine, and lying on the bench. They were the only times I played Doom. Everything else was some other guy, on some other day… doing some other thing. I was infuriated that he was allowed to limp like that!”
And if that wasn’t disappointing enough, Kebbell also confirmed that the movie originally included a rather exciting-sounding “Birth of Dr. Doom” scene.
“I missed the press tour for Planet of the Apes because I was lying under rubble, slowly rising out of the ashes to be Doctor Doom. Never made it to the film! There are always frustrations with these tent poles,” he shrugged. “But it generally comes from the script changing, sadly enough. But I’m very proud of my work. I’m also just as heartbroken as the fans are.”
We’re kind of disappointed that Trank’s version was so heavily tampered with. It’s just the nature of studio involvement in major blockbusters these days, especially with superhero reboots, when so much money is poured into a heavily-pressured production. Ultimately, 20th Century Fox failed enormously with attempting to breathe new life into Fantastic Four and subsequently pulled the sequel from their upcoming schedule. We’re now left wondering if Marvel Studios will attempt to buy the rights back, like they did with Spider-Man. We can only wait and hope for now.