Why Fantastic 4 is failing (and why Batman vs. Superman will follow suit)

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I haven’t seen it, to be honest I might even like the movie when I do, but one thing I know already is that 20th Century Fox made a mistake. It was just too soon for a reboot, especially on a movie that failed to perform as well as other superhero franchises the first time around. The numbers are looking bad for the movie on it’s second week out in the world.

The Fantastic Four has never been my favourite comic book team but neither have I had anything bad to say about them either. Overall I give all of the characters a loud resounding ‘yeh they’re OK’. However, even an ‘OK’ superhero franchise is better than a bad one, or even worse none at all, so what do I think has gone wrong here?

It’s all about emotional investment; viewers watched a movie (2004), and then a sequel (2007), from that point on most of us might have expected to see a further instalment (after all it would round out to a nice trilogy). However, our investment, both emotional, and in terms of time spent, has been wasted on characters that have now been binned. Even if the previous Fantastic Four movies weren’t the best movies ever, I was still in a position of wanting to see what happens next. Now there is no ‘next’, and there never will be.

I feel short-changed, as I suspect many marvel fans do. I also feel (to a certain extent) cheated out of a satisfying end to a decent (though not exactly ‘fantastic’) storyline. Why on earth would I bother convincing my wife to come and watch yet another superhero movie, handing over my money, and then sitting through a couple of hours of storytelling, when I have prior experience that tells me that I could very well be wasting my time.

It could be the best movie ever made and still I’d be reluctant to go. In fact I would be even more reluctant to see it if it does turn out to be an amazing movie because I can’t be sure whether Fox will make a sequel or simply yank the rug out from under me yet again. This brings me to my prediction about Batman vs. Superman:

Brandon Roth’s Superman (2006) was promptly (OK not promptly but in movie terms pretty closely) followed by a revamped (and very dark) Henry Cavill (2013). I kind of liked both movies but the revamping bugged me and now this Superman mark III (Christopher Reeve’s Superman may have predated it significantly but he left a very solid impression) is being combined with yet another revamped character to create a ‘Super-revamped’ mash-up.

Superman mark III will be up against Batman mark…(I literally have no idea any more, there have been so many). To be safe just consider the fact that The Dark Knight Rises came out in 2012, making this reboot the quickest I’ve mentioned so far. Waiting four years to reboot a character really doesn’t do WB any favours with fans.

I find it easy to believe in Disney’s faith in the Marvel universe they’re building. Sadly, as a fan, I simply don’t believe that either Fox or WB believes in their franchises as much, not enough to commit to telling a story, even where a movie in the middle of that story fails. As a viewer walking into the cinema to watch a Fox or WB superhero movie I will always be asking myself “Why am I here? Is this just another blatant ‘Hail Mary’ pass from a studio that is desperately trying to claw out the same returns as The Avengers?”

And there’s the clincher; the real reason these films flop: if the studios don’t care then why should the fans. As a solid Superman and Batman fan I’m sorry to say I probably won’t be attending the cinema to watch in 2016.

I might catch it on DVD or buy a digital copy on Amazon a few months later, but by then the studios will already be calculating returns and dropping sequels. They’re not willing to wait for the fans who (quite rightfully) have reservations about the story the studio is telling. Once again we have yet another nail in the coffin of superhero franchises that belong to studios who have stopped caring about the stories they are trying to tell.

Sorry for yet another movie rant but I couldn’t help it. Do you see Batman vs. Superman becoming a big hit? I sincerely hope I’ll be eating my words come next year but what I’ve seen so far isn’t changing my mind. At the moment it really feels as though they’re all rushing in before they’ve figured out what story they want to tell us.

As always thanks for reading, and apologies again for the rant, all the best, John

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