Can the Fantastic Four ever be popular again? Even the studio that’s making their $122-million movie doesn’t act as if it thinks so. The publicity for the reboot of the Marvel superhero team, their first film since 2007, has been half-hearted. “They don’t know how to market it,” says Sarah Marrs, who writes about film for Lainey Gossip. “Every trailer has emphasized a different angle. They’ve changed the key art a couple of times, and it’s like maybe they don’t know what they have.” Scott Mendelson of Forbes noted that the first trailer “promised sci-fi horror,” while the second trailer made it look like “a generic, dark and gritty remake.”
Fox bought the movie rights to the Fantastic Four decades ago, back when they were considered better film prospects than Iron Man or Captain America. But that doesn’t mean the studio has much enthusiasm for them: Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, who was dismissed from a previous Fantastic Four movie during the development stage, told Yahoo he felt Fox viewed them “like B-level characters. I never felt like they understood the real strength of that property.”
Yet, there was a time when the Fantastic Four was the most important superhero franchise in the world. When writer Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby launched the team in 1961, it almost single-handedly created the Marvel superhero comics line and invented a set of new conventions for comic-book heroes. The stars were a self-centred scientist, his ditzy girlfriend, her dim-witted teenage brother and a rock creature with a working-class New York accent, four characters who frequently screwed up on the way to winning, and constantly argued with each other.
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