Screenwriter Jeremy Slater is becoming a producer with his work on the new Exorcist television series. He is also a writer on last year’s Fantastic Four, which proved to be a box office failure.
In a Screen Crush interview, Slater opens up about his experience on the reboot. He estimates writing ten to fifteen drafts of the screenplay. His vision for the film had “lots of humor, lots of heart, lots of spectacle.”
Slater’s script begins with young Reed and Ben before the former joins the Baxter Foundation. He describes the think tank as a “Hogwarts for nerds.” Victor Von Doom would start as “a damaged young Latverian scientist” who befriends Reed and shows him how to “bend the rules.”
The group goes to the Negative Zone and encounters “a pissed off cybernetic T-Rex”, namely Annihilus. After a battle, the team thinks Victor is dead and returns to Earth with their powers. Meanwhile, Victor kills Annihilus and returns from the Negative Zone, hell-bent on revenge.
According to Slater, “We had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world” and “the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan.” How very epic.
Slater describes the finale as “…a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting the heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria.” A post-credits scene would tease Galactus and Silver Surfer for the sequel.
Slater says his script had several elements that harken back to the comic books. He even managed to include H.E.R.B.I.E, a robot who is known to Marvel fans. In fact, this little droid took Johnny Storm’s place in a 1978 animated series.
“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.”
Very little of Slater’s ideas are in the final film. However, one bit of dialogue remains intact- young Reed saying “Don’t blow up” as he tests the transporter.
After a troubled production, the movie proved to be a flop. “Would you spend $300 million on a Fantastic Four film?” he asked. “Particularly after the previous two films left a fairly bad taste in audiences’ mouths?
“It’s understandable that everyone involved would take steps to minimize their risk as much as possible. Unfortunately, those steps probably compromised the film to a fatal degree.”
Oh, what might have been.