Here’s an odd story. When the latest reboot of “The Fantastic Four” flopped, the blame went to the fact that the studio used a novice director. That makes as much sense as saying a race car didn’t win because the pit crew used a novice tire changer.
Even the best director can’t make a good movie out of a poor script. Just look at some of the flops Steve Spielberg has made, and yet he’s considered one of the best directors in the world. The problem is rarely the director but the story itself. Specifically, if the script is flawed, the movie will be flawed. It’s as simple as that.
In the latest “Fantastic Four” movie, the heroes don’t become superheroes until about three quarters of the way through the film. That immediately destroys the promise of the film in the first place. We want to see the Fantastic Four in action. We don’t want to wait until the end to see them in action, but that’s exactly what “The Fantastic Four” forces us to do.
Look at some successful superhero movies like “The Avengers” that shows the superheroes fighting throughout the movie. Every superhero movie makes a promise that the superhero will appear and fight throughout the movie. “The Fantastic Four” wastes time building up to the moment they become superheroes. When more than half the superhero movie isn’t about the superhero at all, that’s a huge problem. That’s like a war movie without a war or a boxing movie without any boxing until the last half hour.
So blaming a novice director for the failure of “The Fantastic Four” avoids identifying the real culprit which is that the script was flawed in the beginning. The director even tweeted that he had a great version a year ago. That may be true, but if he had used the original script, it would still have turned into a lousy superhero movie.
The script is the foundation to creating a great movie. All the A-list stars and top directors can’t overcome a lousy script. Unfortunately even a great script that gets turned into a great movie won’t always make enough money for the studio to justify looking for great scripts. “The Shawshank Redemption” didn’t do well in the box office, but has become a favorite movie since its release on DVD and cable TV. In the long run, it made the studios money. Yet studios only look for the short-term. They’d rather have a lousy movie that makes millions in one month than a great movie that makes many more millions over a year.
The director is rarely at fault for bad movies. The screenwriter is mainly at fault, but the director and actors can wreck even the best screenplay and turn it into mush. However, no director and actor can turn a lousy screenplay into a great movie. For a great movie to occur, it always starts with the screenplay and then it has to get the right director and actors to fulfill that screenplay’s potential.
The screenplay is always the key, despite what Hollywood thinks. It’s only logical, which is why Hollywood too often misses the obvious.