Infamously, in 1993 Marvel signed a deal to produce a movie version of their popular comic characters “The Fantastic Four” and for reasons known only to a few – which this winningly frank documentary sets out to uncover – the decision was made to give the job to well known low-budget producer Roger Corman. While the public intention may have been to produce it on a modest budget with the ambition of scoring a big theatrical hit, the truth seems somewhat murkier. Rushed into production, the cast and crew seemingly remained unaware that they were merely pawns in some boardroom copyright game and gamely tried to make the best movie they could.
Marty Langford’s entertaining documentary manages to get a significant number of the cast and crew to sit down and share their experiences and by the time the credits roll on this movie, you’ll be glad and disappointed the movie never got released. It’s a fascinating insight into the filmmaking process, both as a business and an art form. While it’s easy to snigger at the low budget corner cutting that was never destined to be seen by an audience, there’s much more to sympathise with as you hear the cast and crew articulate how they’d anticipated the film being their big break – after all, it was a famous Marvel Comics title getting a motion picture adaptation.
Where the documentary falls a little short is that it never unequivocally uncovers what the true intentions of the production were and even Roger Corman doesn’t really give a definitive answer during his few minutes on screen. We don’t get to know what Stan Lee really thought of it either, although there is some archive footage of him and an anecdote or two from his visit to the set.
This is a fun watch for anyone interested in Marvel comics, superhero movie history and movie production in general and is available to stream for free right now on Amazon Prime.