The team

Three major films starring the Fantastic Four are familiar to most Marvel fans: Fantastic Four (2005), Constantin’s Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer (2007), and 20th Century Fox’s reboot Fantastic 4 (2015). But none was really well received by the fans, partly because the changes were far too strong compared to the original comics. From the gigantic being Galactus For example, the world-eater, who in the comics builds his deadly machines with his imposing figure over cities, became a vile cloud in the 2007 film.

Faithfulness to the original, as we know it today from the films and series from Marvel Studios, was not necessarily a criterion for other studios. Three expensive movies, three chances to get it right but all nonsense – and not just creatively.

In fact, there is a fourth Fantastic Four film, which, however, was never allowed to appear officially. And it has now not only ended up on YouTube, but also almost as good as the story of its origin.

A German producer wants to bring the Fantastic Four to the cinema and is making his own low-budget film

It might seem odd today, but apart from the Batman movies, comic book adaptations were low-budget affairs in the 1990s. The technology did not exist to adequately transfer the images from the comics to the medium of film. One wanted to try it anyway: the German producer Bernd Eichinger.

The team

Eichinger had already got hold of the film rights to Fantastic Four in the mid-1980s – for the comparatively measly sum of $250,000. But he couldn’t find a major studio willing to produce the film. In view of the necessary effects, the studios balked at the immense costs, as can be seen from the book Forsaken – The Making and Aftermath of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four. Eichinger had a problem: he owned the film rights, but they didn’t last forever. If he didn’t want to lose her, he had to go into production with a project.

  • Who played the Fantastic Four in 1994? For the full cast

The plan was to make a cheap film, with which he could keep the rights to the Fantastic Four in order to later post an expensive film. In 1993, the $1 million production, directed by Oley Sassone, was announced. But then, after just one showing at the San Diego Comic Convention, disappeared Fantastic Four and the actors were informed by a letter from a lawyer that they were no longer allowed to advertise the film.

What happened?

Marvel is paying millions to keep the Fantastic Four movie from coming out

There are various versions describing the fate of the first Fantastic Four film. Stan Lee said in a 2005 interview included in the book Forsaken: It was from the beginning hadn’t planned to release the film. Fantastic Four was merely a write-off project to secure the film rights. Which apparently was not communicated to those responsible and actors of the film.

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Bernd Eichinger, on the other hand, explained that it was definitely intended to make the film accessible to a wide audience. Avi Arad, then a senior manager at Marvel and later founder of Marvel Studios, was of the opinion that such a low-budget film damage the Fantastic Four brand would. Eichinger received a higher million amount to not release the film.

How the banned Marvel film finally got public – and why it’s surprisingly good

As early as the 1990s, the film found its way to an interested audience – and indeed in the form of illegal copies, which were then still sold on VHS cassettes. The basis for this was one Working version of the work, which was not yet entirely final and which one of those involved in the film had rescinded. However, it is not known who leaked the film.

The bootlegs were sold at conventions and via relevant mail-order businesses. With the advent of the DVD age, the film found its way onto disc as well and was even beefed up in terms of picture quality. Nowadays you can easily see him on YouTube.

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This Fantastic Four sticks to the origin story of the heroes. As a villain, he uses Dr. Doom who was once a friend of Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic. Alicia Masters is also introduced here, the later girlfriend of Ben Grimm aka the thing. With the second villain, the jeweler, who wants to force Alicia into marriage, a character is introduced that doesn’t exist in the comic, but it doesn’t harm the film. Because the main thing is that Dr. Doom wants to destroy New York and the Fantastic Four must stop him.

In between you see the thing’s transformation back to Ben Grimm and his struggles with his helplessness. Reed and Sue Storm’s wedding closes the story. In short: there are many elements here that comic book fans are familiar with.

The film, of course, looks very cheap. The flight scenes of the human torch have been realized with animation that The design of the thing is impressive thoughlives up to the original and is better than any version of this character in the outrageously expensive later films.

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Of course they come Dialogues a bit bumpy at times therefore, and the effects are not always up to par. But the heart of the film is in the right place. With a little more investment in post-production, this could have been a good start for a cheap franchise, but in the end nobody wanted that. And so Fantastic Four is one of the few films that was never officially released. Unlike Warner-pulled Batgirl, however, we can at least see Fantastic Four because he escaped the studio’s clutches.

If you want to know more about the turbulent and also strange production history, we put the documentary Doomed!: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four (Available on DVD from Amazon *) and the book Forsaken – The Making and Aftermath of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four by William Nesbitt (available at Amazon *) to the heart.

*These links are so-called affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links or subscribe, we will receive a commission. This has no effect on the price.

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