‘Fantastic Four’ Writer-Producer Simon Kinberg on Shared Universes and the Challenges of an Origin Story
Now that screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg‘s (a name you will be hearing a lot more of in the future) duties are complete with the upcoming ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ his attention now drifts to yet another group of superheroes, and this time it’s the ‘Fantastic Four.’
Not much is known about the new ‘Fantastic Four’ movie, other that Josh Trank (best known for directing ‘Chronicle’) will rebooting the series with Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell starring as the hero team. I met Kinberg this past weekend at his Midtown Manhattan hotel to discuss the new ‘X-Men’ movie. (The full interview with Kinberg about the fifth X-Men movie will publish closer to the May 23rd release date)
We discussed the new ‘Fantastic Four’ film, and more specifically: How it will differ from the 2005 movie; if it’s set in the same universe as ‘X-Men’ (both owned by Fox); if it’s going to be an origin story; and how he envisions the film’s villain, Dr. Doom.
Does the Fantastic Four movie you wrote and the X-Men live in the same universe?
Well, it’s complicated. Because none of the X-Men movies have acknowledged the notion of a sort of superhero team — the Fantastic Four. And the Fantastic Four acquire powers, so for them to live in a world where mutants are prevalent is kind of complicated, because you’re like, “Oh, you’re just a mutant.” Like, “What’s so fantastic about you?”
“We have powers … just like that team down the street.”
Right, right. Exactly, “So, I guess we’ll go to school now. We’ll go to Xavier’s school.” No, it is, they live in discrete universes.
Should we assume it will be an origin story?
I’m not allowed to talk about the content of it…
Okay, how about this, I’ll just make a statement: The first ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ got some heat for doing an origin story so soon after Sam Raimi’s version.
Spider-Man one and two.
Right. But people barely remember the two ‘Fantastic Four’ movies…
No, I know.
A new, well-done Fantastic Four origin story — people won’t react like they did to ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’
I guess I’ll say this: People have a very different relationship to the Fantastic Four movies than they had to Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. And Raimi’s Spider-Man movies — and that first Spider-Man movie — is a beloved movie that sort of redefined, tonally, sort of what comic book movies could do. There had been other superhero movies, like ‘X-Men,’ but Raimi’s Spider-Man had a joyfulness to it that was unique, I think, to the genre. So, rebooting a movie that was beloved less than ten years after it had come out is challenging. So, we approach ‘Fantastic Four’ with a different set of challenges.
Is Dr. Doom a tough character to bring to a movie?
Sort of. I don’t know, I think he’s a similar character to a Magneto or Darth Vader, where you can see the end darkness to the characters so that you have an understanding of why he does certain things.
Maybe I just feel he’s tough because of the way he’s depicted in the last movies.
I can tell you this: Our version, the ‘Fantastic Four’ movie we’re making differs than those other films. And I think where it starts — and where I think superhero movies define themselves — is not in plot and character, but in tone. And the tone of our ‘Fantastic Four’ movie is so different than those other films. And I actually think, more importantly, different from other superhero movies.
It’s like, there’s a spectrum, tonally, from like Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ to Josh Trank’s ‘Chronicle’ movie. We’re on the spectrum, but between those two movies. And I would say, I don’t know where the needle turns, but we are in-between those films. On the other side of ‘Chronicle’ is probably like, ‘X-Men’ is around there with the darkness. And then ‘The Dark Knight’ is the darkest. And on the other side is ‘Spider-Man’ — the original ‘Fantastic Four’ movies are probably on the other side of the goofiness. So, we’re somewhere in-between the joyfulness of Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ movies and the reality and drama of Josh’s ‘Chronicle.’
Mike Ryan is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.