A Certain Animated Superhero Film Made Things Awkward For The Fantastic Four

Although "Fantastic Four" is one of the most popular and beloved team of superheroes in comic book history, you wouldn't know it from the superhero movie genre alone. Both the 2005 and 2007 "Fantastic Four" films were met with mixed, mostly unenthused reactions, and I think it would be best for everyone involved in the film if we all just pretended the 2015 reboot attempt never happened. 

There were a lot of reasons the movies failed, from the questionable casting to the complete inability to make any member of the team feel real or compelling in any way, but there was one other thing that couldn't have helped: "The Incredibles" came out a year before 20th Century Fox's first "Fantastic Four" film, and there were a lot of similarities. Both films featured a group of four superheroes, one of which had super strength, one had the power to stretch, and one who could turn invisible and create force fields. It put "Fantastic Four" in a tough spot, as they were now tasked with introducing such a similar group of characters to mainstream audiences right after Pixar hit the premise out of the park.

It's not clear how much they changed

When asked if they made any changes in response to the success of the "The Incredibles," director Tim Story told ComingSoon.net, "We changed about one percent of our movie due to 'The Incredibles.' We had a seen in the beginning where The Thing shakes a cat out of a tree and it was extremely similar to the scene in 'The Incredibles' so we took it out, that was it." A respectable answer, especially since the "Fantastic Four" characters have been around far longer than Pixar itself, so it's not like anyone could credibly accuse Tim Story of ripping the movie off. 

However, it was also reported around the time of production that the changes to "Fantastic Four" were a little bit larger than Story indicated. Cinescape reported back in 2004: 

"The entire third act of 'Fantastic Four' has undergone extensive changes as a result of Disney and Pixar's CGI family film 'The Incredibles.' As it happens, we're told that once the creative FF team saw the stretching effects of the 'Incredibles' character Elastigirl, the final battle we're yet to see in 'Fantastic Four' needed to be beefed up, especially what the character of Mister Fantastic was slated to do."

Regardless of how much the film changed in response, the results speak for themselves: "The Incredibles" is widely considered one of the best animated movies of all time, whereas "Fantastic Four" is getting yet another attempt at a reboot coming soon.

To be fair...

But maybe we shouldn't be too hard on 2005's "Fantastic Four," because being compared to "The Incredibles" is a losing game for pretty much any superhero film, live-action or animated. Despite ostensibly being a kid's movie, "The Incredibles" is somehow one of the most densely-plotted and thematically rich superhero movies of all time, blowing most modern MCU and DC films out of the water. It's also a film with a lot of dark moments, from Mr. Incredible thinking his wife and kids have been blown up to the villain getting ripped to shreds by a plane engine. 

"The Incredibles" balances four separate compelling character arcs for each main family member, ties them all together, and resolves them each in a satisfying way without ever slowing down the plot. There's an attention to detail here you rarely see in MCU these days. Take the scene after the plane explosion where Elastigirl's talking to her kids, glances down and sees the falling wreckage in the water's reflection, and instantly leaps into action to keep them safe. They could've just had her look up and see it, but they chose to add that extra detail. The whole movie is filled with moments like that. 

In the end, "The Incredibles" was an inconvenience for "Fantastic Four" not because of the similarities between the characters' powers, but for a reason much more damaging: "The Incredibles" was simply the best version of a movie following a family of superheroes that audiences could ask for, and it wouldn't be until "The Avengers" that this type of movie would be able to escape from Pixar's shadow.