Early Fantastic Four Script Had Galactus, Silver Surfer, Annihilus, Mole-Man & More
New details are learned about the recent Fantastic Four flop regarding an early script which featured Annihilus, the Negative Zone, Mole-Man, and even Galactus and Silver Surfer.
Screen Crush makes a great point in that Fantastic Four is similar to Suicide Squad in that each film essentially feels like two separate movies due to cuts and studio intervention. It's further noted that both movies suffered from the studios having green lit challenging material (i.e. new or not popular), but then the studio gets cold feet during production and attempts to backtrack the material into something already known and fails (which is opposite Marvel's approach with Guardians of the Galaxy by giving James Gunn free rein).
A credited writer on Fantastic Four, Jeremy Slater (The Exorcist TV series, The Lazarus Effect), adds that it's a normal thing for big Hollywood movies to have numerous writers and scripts written for a movie. Regarding his early Fantastic Four script, Slater offers it was a lot more light and fun than Simon Kinberg's script.
Slater let it be known his Fantastic Four script opened similar to the theatrical release with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as children, followed by Reed’s recruitment by the Baxter Foundation. Slater said his original pitch was similar to Harry Potter: “was envisioned as a sort of Hogwarts for nerds: a school filled with young geniuses zipping around on prototype hoverboards and experimenting with anti-gravity and teleportation and artificial lifeforms.”
Slater noted Reed was supposed to make friends at the school with Victor, described as a “damaged young Latverian scientist” who “slowly seduced Reed into bending the rules,” which in turn damaged Reed's friendship with Ben.
The portal was also present in Slater's script, but it transported the five to the Negative Zone (not Planet Zero) where they fought Annihilus, who Slater described as "a pissed-off cybernetic T-Rex." Further details include it's thought Annihilus kills Victor, so the remaining four return back to Earth, with eventually Victor returning after “having killed Annihilus and reshaped his Control Rod into a sort of living body armor.” Slater also says all the aforementioned events happened in the first 45 minutes or so of the movie (and didn't take up the full film like the finished version).
Slater also adds they had plans for Mole Man and Doombots in the film, and Galactus and Silver Surfer in a Fantastic Four post-credit scene:
"In addition to Annihilus and the Negative Zone, we had Doctor Doom declaring war against the civilized world, the Mole Man unleashing a 60 foot genetically-engineered monster in downtown Manhattan, a commando raid on the Baxter Foundation, a Saving Private Ryan-style finale pitting our heroes against an army of Doombots in war-torn Latveria, and a post-credit teaser featuring Galactus and the Silver Surfer destroying an entire planet. We had monsters and aliens and Fantasticars and a cute spherical H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that was basically BB-8 two years before BB-8 ever existed. And if you think all of that sounds great...well, yeah, we did, too. The problem was, it would have also been massively, MASSIVELY expensive."
Slater says the reason his script was scrapped was due to the budget as it probably would have required $300 million to make.
“Would you spend $300 million on a Fantastic Four film?” Slater questioned. “Particularly after the previous two films left a fairly bad taste in audiences’ mouths? ... It’s understandable that everyone involved would take steps to minimize their risk as much as possible. Unfortunately, those steps probably compromised the film to a fatal degree.”
Fantastic Four went on to make $168 million worldwide on a $120 million budget.