Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg Talks THE FANTASTIC FOUR, Post-Converting to 3D, the Grounded Tone, and Writing Towards the Sequels

     May 8, 2014


We’re only five months into 2014, but we’ve already seen two big superhero films swing into theaters and we’ve got another massive franchise poised to open in a matter of weeks: X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Steve recently attended the press day for the X-Men “in-betweenquel”, and during his interview with screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg the conversation also touched on another superhero property that Kinberg is involved with: The Fantastic Four.

As screenwriter and producer on director Josh Trank’s reboot of the Marvel comic, Kinberg has been intimately involved in the development of the 20th Century Fox project.  While speaking with Steve, he confirmed that the film will be post-converted to 3D and discussed which aspects of the pic lend themselves to three-dimensions.  He also talked about how Trank’s specific tone stayed constant throughout the film’s development process, and touched on how writing the pic with an eye towards the sequels affected his approach to the characters.  Read on after the jump.

the-fantastic-four-movie-rebootFor those unfamiliar with the project, we know that the Fantastic Four reboot takes place in present day with a cast led by Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan as Human Torch, Kate Mara as Invisible Girl, Jamie Bell as Thing, and Toby Kebbell as the villainous Dr. Doom, with Tim Blake Nelson and Reg E. Cathey taking on supporting roles.

As filming on The Fantastic Four just got underway four days ago, Steve asked Kinberg about the first few days of filming:

“The energy on set is great.  Josh Trank is fantastic on set.  Really in command, really clear, and the thing that is most unique or defining about the new Fantastic Four is the tone.  We’re approaching it in a much more realistic, grounded, science rather than science-fiction way.  The playfulness or goofiness of those other movies is very, very different from what we’re trying to do, and that is true for the production design, the casting, the storytelling.  But you never know until you get on set how it’s all gonna start to feel, and just seeing those actors and seeing Josh, the way he’s articulating the tone and the way the actors are executing it gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll actually be able to make a cool Fantastic Four movie.”

As almost every big studio tentpole today is released in 3D, Steve asked Kinberg if this would be the case with The Fantastic Four.  He answered affirmatively, but revealed they will be post-converting to 3D instead of shooting natively in the format:

“We’re definitely imagining the story in 3D as we’re making it, and it has powers that are well-suited to telling the story in 3D—not just Reed, but you have somebody that is on fire, and that’s something that can be immersive and scary.  The reason to use 3D in this Fantastic Four, I think, is to make the experience feel as immersive as possible, where you feel like you’re with the characters looking at themselves and looking at each other with these bizarre powers and feeling like they’re really interacting with you.”

fantastic-four-movie-rebootTrank became attached to direct The Fantastic Four some time ago, and it’s no secret that the script went through a considerable amount of development before production finally began.  Since Kinberg came on to the project last year, Steve asked him how much changed from the initial idea to the version of the film that they’re now shooting:

“I think everyone was on the same page about the approach to the story in terms of wanting it to feel like it had the tone that Josh was very clear about, which is real, grounded, dramatic.  How we executed that changed as everything changes when you’re revising and rewriting a script, and I think in some ways I caught up to Josh’s tone.  He had such a clear idea for what the tone of the movie was gonna be, and I learned it and then executed it on the page.  I think we all were very committed to this version of Fantastic Four, the specifics of how the story evolved and stuff like that was like it is on any normal movie.”

Though The Fantastic Four doesn’t hit theaters until next summer, Fox has already dated a sequel for July 14, 2017.  Steve asked Kinberg if knowing that the follow-up is dated makes a difference in the writing process:

“Well I think with a lot of these movies you have a sense that if it goes well you’re going to make another one.  If it’s a terrible disaster I don’t know that you ever get a shot no matter what the date is, but they have a lot of confidence in the movie and we have confidence in the movie.  And what I like about it is, as a writer you can start to think about, ‘Well what am I building toward?’

That’s the thing that Marvel’s done so well, that’s what George Lucas did so brilliantly with Star Wars, the originals.  He started telling a story in Episode IV and he had a clear sense of what the backstories were and all of that.  You want to tell a coherent, complete story in each movie, but you can also start to think about and build toward how these characters evolve five years from now, ten years from now, and that’s just a cool way to tell a story.  It’s not that different as a sort of episodic storytelling than what comics do or what our favorite TV shows do.  You get to project beyond the two hours of the movie.”

fantastic-four-reboot-imageThough exactly how much of the Star Wars franchise was mapped out when Lucas made A New Hope is up for debate, it is indeed becoming common for studios to develop franchise films that are more episodic in nature rather than close-ended, one-off films.  Kinberg said that knowing there will be sequels is actually an asset that he takes advantage of in the writing process:

“I think actually in some cases what it helps me do as a writer is it forces me to ask certain questions I may not do if I was just telling a one-off movie.  Meaning I have to ask questions of, ‘What is this gonna mean to them when they’re 30, 40, 50 years old?  Who are these characters going to become?’ because hopefully I’ll be writing them in three years, five years, seven years from now.  But those are not necessarily always questions you ask yourself when you’re telling a standalone movie, you sometimes are just like, ‘Who are they in the span of the three weeks this movie takes place?’ or ‘Who were they in the 30 years of their lives that preceded it?’ but you don’t really think past the confines of that film. I think there is an opportunity in this kind of storytelling when you can tell a bigger story, and you can actually even deepen each story by having it project across lots of episodes.”

Watch the full portion of Steve’s interview with Kinberg regarding The Fantastic Four below, and look for more from the writer/producer here on Collider in the coming days.  The Fantastic Four opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

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