What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, when the wave of Hollywood superhero films was just beginning, Tim Story made The Fantastic Four. That film hit after movies like X-Men and Spider-Man had turned studio eyes firmly towards comic book properties, but it went into development and production before Christopher Nolan started to push the films in a more serious direction with Batman Begins.
The two Tim Story Fantastic Four movies are like mid-period relics. They’re stuck in a place between practical effects and truly powerful CG, and burdened with casting and story choices that seem like he product of heavy-handed studio notes. (Granted, the films showed vision in casting Chris Evans as the Human Torch.) They don’t look or feel much at all like the comic book films of today.
While on the promo rounds for his current film, Think Like a Man Too, Story was asked about his two Marvel films, and the difference between superhero movies then and now. He had quite a lot to say.
Mike Ryan talked to Story for ScreenCrush, and asked him about Fantastic Four, and the difference between superhero films ten years ago and now. The first difference is that comic book films are more serious.
Look, I don’t want to say only the fanboys, but I’d say the normal audience has just gotten into more serious tone. I don’t want to say “darker,” because that doesn’t seem right. But, just a little more straightforward. And I don’t know if that’s come from the videos that kids are playing now or whether it comes from what I consider to be a great medium now, television. It just has a lot of darker stuff. I don’t know where it really comes from, but the tone has gotten a lot edgier and kind of straightforward. It’s going to be interesting just to see, when you think of some of the few superhero movies that may garner a different tone, like an ‘Ant-Man’ or even with rebooting Fantastic Four. It’s going to be interesting to see if there’s room for that. I just like laughing and when it can make you kind of smile, it just makes the characters a little more accessible. We’ll see what happens.
So why did Galactus end up on screen as a cloud, rather than as a titanic guy who eats worlds? In a word: fear. Well, two words: fear and uncertainty.
I think at the time there was a little bit of a fear of going all of the way with that. Because it’s hard to completely grab the concept. You know, if you know about Galactus, you know how powerful he is and how big or small he could be. And the fact that he does travel in a spaceship and so forth and so on. That’s a very big concept to kind of digest. And I think at the time we made the movie, I think the studio also had a little fear of what that was going to be. I think to a certain degree, we shied away from it because of that. But, I think in today’s world now, especially with them looking to do things like Ultron.
Asked if Story wishes he might have been able to make his Fantastic Four films in the current era, rather than a decade ago, his answer is immediate:
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Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Because the Silver Surfer, if you know his origin, it’s very alien. It’s outer space. It’s a whole other thing and, so, I don’t think at the time I was making the movie the appetite was for that. I really don’t believe I could have gone that far then. I don’t believe I could have. So, when you look at where the audiences are now, it would be fun to bring that to the screen. The excitement is so big for the filmmaker, whether it’s this group or what — to bring that to the screen, yes, to answer your question, it would have been really fun to do it in this day now. It’s just more acceptable of the supervillain because, my gosh, when you think of somebody like Galactus — that’s big. That is big. The costume is big. And you’ve got to really go for it and you can’t just put your toe in the water, you’ve got to freaking dive in.