'Fantastic Four' Screenwriter Jeremy Slater Shares Details Of His (Very Different) Original Script

A year ago, Fantastic Four left most fans disappointed. What was teased as a grounded, dramatic superhero movie turned out to be a complete mess. The 20th Century Fox film had a troubled production, and it showed in the final result, which was fairly joyless overall, despite a somewhat promising setup. In some of the earlier drafts of Fantastic Four, though, there was more warmth, humor, and set pieces far larger than what could've been pulled off with the budget.

Below, learn about some of screenwriter Jeremy Slater's (The Lazarus Effect) early ideas for the Fantastic Four reboot.

Slater received credit for Fantastic Four, but only one line of his ("Don't blow up") made the final cut. Screen Crush spoke with him for a piece reflecting on what went wrong with Trank's film. In the article, Slater discusses some of the major differences between his drafts and the finished movie, including a "massively, MASSIVELY expensive" set piece featuring Doctor Doom, Mole Man, and a 60-foot monster:

In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone (changed to "Planet Zero" in the film), we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet. We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed. And if you think all of that sounds great...well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive.

Shortly after the film's poor box-office performance, we saw some of artist Fausto De Martini's concept art for HERBIE (Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics). Here's HERBIE, who was created for the animated Fantastic Four series:


HERBIE, especially if it was as cute it Slater makes it sound, may not have fit the tone Trank was going for. We see no traces of HERBIE in the film. Actor Tim Blake Nelson was cast as Dr. Harvey Elder (aka Mole Man), but his role was severely rewritten, and he was ultimately killed off.

What else was different in Slater's draft? Well, the Baxter Building was a whole lot more exciting:

It was envisioned as a sort of Hogwarts for nerds: a school filled with young geniuses zipping around on prototype hoverboards and experimenting with anti-gravity and teleportation and artificial lifeforms.

After the writer's work on the movie, he had no contact with Trank or the studio, which is normal. Slater's script — which he wrote 10-15 drafts of, during a six-month period — also began with the characters as children, establishing Reed and Ben as childhood friends. When Reed and Ben arrived at the Baxter Building, Reed befriended Victor, a "damaged young Latverian scientist" who "slowly seduced Reed into bending the rules," weakening his friendship with Ben. If you want to know what else was in Slater's early drafts, make sure to head over to Screen Crush to read more of his comments.