Earlier today, Donna Dickens posted a piece about something she read on the official “Fantastic Four” website that Fox created for the new movie. In particular, there was a phrase that she posted about that confused her and that led to a fairly heated and instant conversation online.
A few minutes ago, I hung up the phone with Simon Kinberg, who is a co-writer/producer on the film, because he wanted to make something very clear: Reed Richards will stretch.
So now that our long national nightmare is over, I thought we'd chat with Kinberg to figure out what happened and to check in on the film, which has played its cards fairly close to its chest so far. I told Kinberg that I found the initial website copy confusing more than anything else.
“I think it was confusing,” he agreed. “I was a little confused by it myself. The intent was to try to explain the power with some sort of scientific explanation, but as you pointed out, most of his powers defy what we know about physics. The upshot of it is that he stretches in his movie. That is his power. That's the simplest explanation.”
I pointed out that there's a shot in the second trailer where Reed jumps over something, and his arms go all stretchy as he does it. “There's also the shot where his hand's in a restraint, and the arm stretches in to get out of the restraint,” Kinberg added. “And there will be more as more materials come out, certainly. I would say that it is among the harder visual effects to render in a way that feels real and visceral and physical, like we want the powers to feel. But, yeah. He stretches. That's what he does.”
When I asked him where that confusion came from, he replied, “I'm not sure what the derivation of it was. There are so many materials on movies like this, and not all of it comes from the same source.”
I told him that his film has been so good at keeping things quiet so far that fans are starting to micro-analyze everything they see. Then again, that's fandom in a nutshell these days, no matter what the movie. “I get it,” Kinberg said. “You and I are the same. I would do the same thing on somebody else's movie. This thing here, it really has been a concerted thing because we really just don't want to show anything until it's ready, until it looks great, and they show the real intention of the shot or the movie, then we'll show it. That's why we've held on to so much. We held on to the Thing. We held on to Doom. We held on until we were further along.”
Asked him how close to finished they are now, he said they're still working, still fine-tuning, still pushing to get each shot closer to what they want. “We want to be really clear about the tone of the film, and not have it be misconstrued. We're just more fastidious about everything. We want it to be clear what the intention of the film is, the soul and the tone of the movie. On a lot of films, it's a little easier because either you're the sequel to a movie that you are continuing or copying the tone of, and this is just not that. This is very different from the other two movies.”
I've known Kinberg for a while, and he is sincere when he says, “We just want the materials to be as clear as we think the movie is. It really is not just about the visual effects. We didn't just want it to be about jamming one big money shot into the pipeline, because you can do that if you want something like that in advance. It's all got to work together so things aren't taken out of context or so people can feel like they're discovering the movie. It has to feel new even though there have been two 'Fantastic Four' films. Or three if you count the Corman.”
One of the things I'm most curious about is the score, and I asked him how that's coming along and how it affects the finished film. “The Philip Glass score and the music in general is a huge part of the tone of the film. It's something that Josh had in mind from the beginning of the process. The fact that we got him is insane. We used his music as the temp score. We talked about what we wanted the tone of the music to be, kind of thinking we wouldn't get him and we'd end up playing his music for whoever was scoring it. Marco Beltrami is working with him, so we have this really neat partnership. It's a unique tone for the movie. There's nobody else who has ever composed film music like him. There's a drama behind it that we're definitely going to try to get onscreen.”
Simon had to run, but I thanked him for reaching out to clarify this, and he explained, “Today was the first day of shooting 'X-Men: Apocalypse.' I saw this while I was on set and wanted to reach out to you to tell you that is not really a representation of the movie.”
There are photos that people snapped today of that “X-Men” location, and I mentioned to Simon how much it looks like the '90s animated series is the visual touchstone for this particular film in the series, and how excited fans sounded about that today.
He actually laughed, unable to contain his own joy at what they're doing. “That's awesome. That's the era I grew up in. I was a kid in the '80s. That's all of elementary school and high school for me, and that's a dream come true for me, being on an 'X-Men' set with all of that '80s iconography, and the '80s clothes and the '80s hair.”
“Fantastic Four” is in theaters August 7, 2015.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” is in theaters May 27, 2016.