As I mentioned in Saturday’s “Nerd Alert,” if you follow geekynerdy news like the Mysterious Mr. C and I do, it has been all but impossible to miss the drama surrounding the latest Fantastic Four film.
First, as the Daily Beast’s Jen Yamato points out, Marvel (which gave up the rights to the Fantastic Four characters in the 1980s) abruptly cancelled the comic series last October and then killed off characters resembling some of the cast members in a Punisher comic a month later. Next, there were “rumors of mistreated production crew, damaged sets, and studio-mandated reshoots [by a different director].” Then, in May of this year, director Josh Trank was slammed in a Hollywood Reporter piece (which just about everyone has said was a hatchet job) describing his allegedly “erratic” behavior on set and claiming that his dogs had caused $100,000 worth of damages to a rental home, which supposedly led to his being fired from directing the second stand-alone Star Wars film. Oh, and we can’t forget the uproar over Michael B. Jordan’s casting as Johnny Storm, a Caucasian character last played by Chris Evans. Needless to say, the deck was kind of stacked against this latest superhero flick even before some awkward press interviews and damning magazine profiles, and a tweet from Trank himself (since deleted, but living on in screen-captures everywhere), which implied that studio executives from 20th Century Fox had monkeyed with the film and that’s why it wasn’t being well-received.
For the most part, film reporters commented that Trank’s tweet was an industry no-no and rehashed all of the behind-the-scenes scandals, but the reaction that most caught my attention came from Max Landis, the screenwriter for Trank’s first foray into the world of superheroes, 2012’s Chronicle.
In a series of tweets – compiled by Mark Julian at ComicBookMovie.com – Landis doesn’t completely let Trank off the hook for creating such a spectacle, but he does note that they were given a lot of freedom on Chronicle, something a franchise film like the Fantastic Four would never have enjoyed. He closes by writing: “This job is only very occasionally romantic. Don’t let it own you, try not to let it hurt you. Because sometimes it’s so much f**king fun. But it’s still a job.” That last line in particular has stuck with me ever since I read it late on Friday night – “But it’s still a job.”
I don’t know about you, but I often seem to forget that. I look at the long lists of people involved in things like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Jurassic World, and think, “If only I could figure out a way to get involved on something like that, life would be so much more fun!” I envy the people writing for the geekynerdy Web sites I frequent, and am dying to know how one gets a job at Nerdist since they don’t seem to have any sort of career page! And while I’m sure the people working on these various projects do have a lot of fun – primarily because they are all doing something they enjoy – at the end of the day, these positions are still jobs. They require hard work and dedication, and, on occasion, there’s some drama.
While it remains to be seen what the flopping of the Fantastic Four will mean for the future of the franchise – and perhaps even superhero films in general – for now, the very public battles that are being waged have reminded me that the grass is not always greener on the other side.