What's going on behind the scenes at Fantastic Four? Why did Fox legal send a letter to Slashfilm claiming infringement on plot details that Fantastic Four director Josh Trank previously debunked?
Josh Trank has no idea. I just got off the phone with him and he strongly, without caveat, denied the story details that led to Slashfilm getting legal attention from Fox. "The only truth in that plot description is that there are four characters named Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny," Trank told me.
And he was pretty adamant. "You'll see in June of 2015," that the plot description is absolutely untrue.
So what the heck happened? The initial plot came from a casting service, who seem to have not actually gotten it from Fox. Why Fox legal got involved is unclear. As for previous denials (including Miles Teller), Trank expressed frustration with the way that amorphous wish lists get reported as fact. I've made this point before - a list of actors being looked at for a role tells you nothing except who are the hot actors in a film's particular price range. Tom Cruise was on a wish list for every big budget male lead from the 1980s on, because he was the biggest star, not always because he was the best (or most likely) fit. It's why I hesitate to run such early casting stories - as all the incorrect Lex Luthor reports show, they're often bunk.
I gave Trank one piece of advice: get his Twitter verified. That really is him at @josh_trank, so any updates coming from the account are legitimate.
Now my take: I think Fox needs to get their messaging straight. The legal thing is absolutely bizarre, and I think it's a corporate problem, not a creative one. I don't think wer'e going to get anything official from this production until Comic Con, and I think Trank is more interested in making his movie than promoting it while it's still in pre-production. Of course there will still be rumors and lies - we live in an era when blogs happily make up superhero casting stories to get hits and then nobody takes them to task for being wrong, so it's not stopping anytime soon - but I believe Trank when he tells me that's not the synopsis of the movie.
As for the casting stuff? Remember, it's all fluid. What was true a week ago - someone was in talks, the production was close to having a deal - isn't true today. And an actor they weren't interested in a year ago may have suddenly gotten their attention recently. Official casting has to happen in the near future, so we'll know soon enough.
I hope Josh Trank speaks out more. He's clearly passionate about making this movie right; when I told him I was rooting for his team to pull it off, he simply said, "We will."