Is Fantastic Four really as bad as everyone says? Yes, I'm afraid it is – but every cloud has a silver lining and it seems Marvel's cynical, sarcastic, ultraviolent X-Men spin-off character Deadpool may be the unexpected beneficiary of the Fantastic Flop.
The latest Marvel film has been so badly received that not only have audiences rejected it, so has its director and, it seems, the studio that made it.
According to widely reported sources in Hollywood, a scheduled Fantastic Four sequel, due out in 2017, has been dropped. The gap in the schedule will be filled with a sequel for Deadpool, whose first film isn't out until February but has been generating extremely favourable buzz.
The reviews suggest Fantastic Four is terrible. Having seen it, I'm inclined to agree.
There are a number of ways of looking at the reasons for this, but at the root of the problem is the fact that Marvel, strapped for cash during the 1980s and 1990s, sold off the film rights to some of its most popular properties – including the X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four – to film studios.
This left those franchises outside Marvel's control when it later realised the true worth of its characters and signed a big-money deal with Disney, ultimately leading to the Iron Man film and the creation of an Avengers-centred Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The resulting films have not all been brilliant – but even the worst film in the Disney-Marvel family is far superior to 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four. Rival studio Sony has also struggled to do justice to Spider-Man, and so has signed a deal with Marvel that will allow the web-slinger to be integrated into the Avengers film universe.
This was Fox's second attempt at building a Fantastic Four film franchise. The first try – a pair of movies in 2005 and 2007 – were also pretty awful.
Almost a decade later, director Josh Trank was given the job of rebooting one of the best-known comic-book superhero teams, despite only having a single film under his belt – 2012's critically acclaimed "real-world" superhero film Chronicle.
But then the studio reportedly took it away from him again. It has been reported that Trank was physically removed from the editing suite while working on the third act of the film. This is interesting, given that most reviews specifically criticised the disjointed third act. Three major action scenes were also apparently removed by Fox before Trank began shooting.
And just before the film’s North American release, Trank raised eyebrows with a (swiftly deleted) tweet in which he wrote: “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.”
The reviews have been terrible – and the opening weekend's US$26m (Dh95.5m) take in the US is a disaster for a film that expected to make almost double that – but one thing to be pleased about after such a disastrous release is that we gather Fox, which also controls the X-Men franchise, is now likely to drop the fantastic foursome.
This not only clears the release schedule for the aforementioned Deadpool sequel, but also potentially sets the scene for the rights to the Fantastic Four being returned to Marvel, leaving them free to join the Avengers and Spidey in an expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
All of which, quite frankly, would be a Fantastic result.