Josh Trank wanted to quit Fantastic Four over one casting choice
Five years later, it’s no secret that the Josh Trank-helmed reboot of the previously Fox-owned Fantastic Four franchise was riddled with production issues and studio interference and in a new interview with Geeks of Color, the 36-year-old filmmaker revealed that the first sign of his trouble came with trying to cast a black woman in the role of Sue Storm, aka The Invisible Woman.
Trank said that after he made the decision to cast Michael B. Jordan in the role of Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, he received so many threats online that he slept with a gun by his bed and that, while he tried to cast an actress of similar color as his sister to not only offer a new take on the characters but also keep their familial ties in logical fashion, he received “quite a bit of heavy pushback” from the studio.
“There were a lot of controversial conversations that were had behind the scenes on that,” Trank said. “I was mostly interested in a black Sue Storm, a black Johnny Storm, and a black Franklin Storm. But also, when you’re dealing with a studio on a massive movie like that, everybody wants to keep an open mind to, like, who the big stars are going to be. ‘Maybe it’ll be Margot Robbie,’ or something like that. But when it came down to it, I found a lot of pretty heavy pushback on casting a black woman in that role.”
Despite believing that having cast one black actor in the key role of Johnny meant there shouldn’t be any issue with casting a black actress in the role of Sue, or that it would double the online anger from fans, Trank still was surprised the studio didn’t side with him on the decision and revealed he regrets not leaving the project at that point.
“When I look back on that, I should have just walked when that realization sort of hit me, and I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t just out of principle,” Trank said. “Because those aren’t the values I stand for in my own life; those weren’t the values then or ever for me. Because I’m somebody who always talks about standing up for what I believe in, even if it means burning my career out. I feel bad that I didn’t take it to the mat with that issue. I feel like I failed in that regard.”
Trank co-wrote the reboot alongside Jeremy Slater (The Umbrella Academy) and X-Men franchise creative head Simon Kinberg and served as a new origin story for the titular Marvel superhero team and Fox had plans for a sequel to hit theaters in 2017, only to be cancelled after the film’s critical panning and box office failure. The rights eventually reverted to Marvel Studios after Disney’s acquisition of Fox and now a second reboot is in early development to be part of the decade-long Marvel Cinematic Universe.