Studio interference has plagued the cinema since its earliest days. From MGM chopping Greed down to a fraction of its original length, to RKO mutilating The Magnificent Ambersons, to Harvey Weinstein’s re-editing antics (which Snowpiercer avoided at the cost of anything like a proper release), many films have been tweaked, meddled, and monkeyed with. Such is the case with Fantastic Four, whose own director bitterly claimed that the film being shown in theaters was a different–and inferior–film than the one he made.
But that’s when damage is done to a finished film. Other times, a film is compromised before it’s even shot–like Ant-Man, which lost its original director just before it was to begin filming. When the finished film managed not to be a disaster, it got surprisingly solid reviews and made decent (if not impressive) money. Fantastic Four, however, was shredded by critics and made less money than almost any superhero film since Iron Man kicked off the current wave of comic-book cinema.
For me, if Ant-Man isn’t quite as good as many have made it out to be, then Fantastic Four isn’t quite as bad. The former is far from a bad film and the latter far from a good one, but I’m most interested in examining them through the prism of the compromises made to get them onto the screen.