Whatever Happened to Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four 2? | TheReviewGeek Investigates


In 2012, audiences were treated to a comic book movie the likes of which they had never seen before. That movie was Chronicle, a found-footage superhero flick that gained recognition for its unique approach to its fantastical story. It grossed $126.6 million at the international box office against a budget of $12 million, and it scored highly with both critics and audiences alike. 

20th Century Fox, the studio that green-lit Chronicle, was impressed by Josh Trank, the young filmmaker at the helm of that movie, and granted him the keys to just about any movie property he wanted. He ultimately decided to go with the Fantastic Four, which was a natural progression for the director after exploding onto the scene with his debut movie about a group of teenagers developing superpowers. 

Even before Fantastic Four began filming, the studio, who were confident that Trank’s movie would be a big hit, announced plans for a sequel. It was set for release on June 9, 2017, two weeks after the scheduled release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi so as to avoid the mighty force of its competition. 

But in November 2015, 3 months after the release of Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, the planned sequel was removed from the studio’s release schedule.

So, what went wrong? Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind Fantastic Four 2’s cancellation. 

Fantastic Four 2

2015’s Fantastic Four movie was not at all what anybody expected. The original comic books were light in tone and had plenty of action, but Trank’s movie was even grimmer than Ben Grimm’s bad moods and had little in the way of exciting setpieces. 

This was a surprise to fans of the super-powered quartet but their concerns were allayed somewhat when, just after the movie’s release, talk turned to the sequel which was set to have a bigger budget, the same cast, and according to Fandom.com, a greater focus on humour and action. In terms of plot, the superhero team were to discover a plan made between Doctor Doom and Galactus to destroy the Earth, so there was the potential for something more thrilling than the overly talky plot that blighted the first movie. 

There would be one person missing from the sequel, however: Josh Trank. He certainly expected to be back for the sequel as, before Fantastic Four’s release, he shared his vision for the next in this would-be franchise. As quoted at Heroic Hollywood, he said:

“The end of the Fantastic Four was going to very organically set up the adventure and the weirdness and the fun. That would be the wish fulfilment of the sequel. Because obviously, the sequel would be, ‘OK, now we are [superpowered] forever and it’s weird and funny and there’s adventure lurking around every corner.”

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), we never got to see the sequel Trank envisioned. His departure, which was a result of his battles with Fox, didn’t immediately signal the end of the sequel though, as some of the cast members, including Miles Teller who had stretched himself into the role of Mister Fantastic, were interested in coming back for more. When discussing the possibility of a sequel with Digital Spy, Teller said:

“Yeah, for sure. I loved the cast, I loved the characters. I think it’s such an interesting dynamic…I love how much they really need to rely on each other. This Avengers thing, they’ve kind of created their own Fantastic Four in a way, Marvel’s first family. Their powers can’t just exist on their own. You need Thor to do this, the Hulk to do his thing.

So yeah, absolutely, I would do another one.”

Of course, Teller never did return to his superhero role and neither did the other cast members. Fantastic Four 2 never saw the light of day, despite the potential for a more exciting story after the relatively subdued plotting of Trank’s misfiring and misguided movie. 

Why was Fantastic Four 2 cancelled?

There was a lot of hype surrounding Fantastic Four before its release but very little footage of the movie was shown in trailers. This caused a lot of concern among superhero fans and movie critics but 20th Century Fox were still optimistic about the movie they were about to release. 

But on the eve of Fantastic Four’s first showing in theatres, Trank tweeted:

“A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.”

Needless to say, any hopes fans had of a good movie were suddenly extinguished. 

Trank knew the movie would be critically torn apart so to divert attention away from himself, he pinned the blame on 20th Century Fox, who he claimed meddled with his cut of the film. There is certainly evidence of edits and reshoots as there are continuity errors aplenty but whether these are the result of studio tampering or Trank’s own directorial decisions, we will never really know. 

But regardless of studio interference, it’s fair to say Trank’s cut of the movie wouldn’t have pleased many fans of the fab quartet anyway. This is because of his decision to create something gritty and more realistic than the lighthearted and fantastical stories from the original comic books. With its darker tone and moments of body horror that could have come straight out of a David Cronenberg movie, Trank’s Fantastic Four was not the movie many people wanted to see.

And Fox’s meddling aside, the movie was beset with other production problems because of Trank’s erratic behaviour on set and the lack of respect from certain members of his cast who didn’t enjoy working with him.

According to Kate Mara, who played The Invisible Woman, the movie was created in a toxic environment, although she didn’t mention Trank by name when discussing her “horrendous” experience. Trank responded to claims about his behaviour and called them “either blatant mistruths or extreme exaggerations to the point of satire.”

We might never know the truth about what happened on set but one thing is for sure, 2015’s Fantastic Four is a bad movie that ranks among the worst superhero movies ever made.

As a consequence of the movie’s box office failure and the negative reviews that circulated after its release, Trank’s career took a nosedive and Fox decided not to go ahead with the planned Fantastic Four sequel that could have been the second in a potential franchise. 

In 2019, the rights to the Fantastic Four reverted back to Marvel after Disney acquired the film and TV assets held by 20th Century Fox. Not that this had any impact on the sequel, of course, as it had already been doomed to extinction several years earlier.

Have the chances of a new Fantastic Four movie flamed out?

We have yet to see a decent Fantastic Four movie but if you’re a fan of the super-powered foursome, you shouldn’t give up hope just yet. A new movie featuring Marvel’s ‘first family’ is set to be released on May 2, 2025, and it will be one of the movies released within Phase Six of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Will the movie be any good? We’re optimistic that it will be a good one, although that was also our assumption before the release of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie, so who knows? We’ll find out if it’s a case of “flame on” or “flame out” when the movie finally hits theatres, but however the movie turns out, we’re hoping it’s lighter, funnier, and more action-packed than its dark and gritty predecessor.


Read More: Whatever Happened to Tim Story’s Fantastic Four 3?

Were you looking forward to Fantastic Four 2? What did you think of Josh Trank’s movie? Let us know in the comments below. 


Leave a comment