A Fantastic Flaw in 1994. WTH Happened?

What was supposed to be a pivotal year for Marvel's first family 30 years ago had resulted in two major disappointments from anticipated projects based on the Fantastic Four.

Back during the late 80's New World Entertainment (Co-founded by Roger Corman) had acquired the Marvel Entertainment Group (MEG), which was the corporate parent of Marvel Comics post liquidation from previous owner Cadence Industries.

During the early-to-mid-1990s, Genesis Entertainment and New World Entertainment syndicated a new Fantastic Four animated series as part of the Marvel Action Hour weekend block, with the addition of another show, Iron Man.

During the first season, Marvel co-founder Stan Lee presented and narrated each episode of Fantastic Four and despite how most episodes during the first season adapted accurate re-interpretations of the source materials and comic book stories by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, there were legitimate critiques on how poorly the series was produced.

 When television writer Ron Friedman was on board, many were excited as Friedman's tenure on G.I. Joe A Real American Hero helped to paved the way for quality animated programming however, the Fantastic Four was generally met with disdain by fans thanks to bad production qualities be it writing that placed too much emphasis on comedy and then there is the very janky animation. It was so bad, that Marvel Editor and Writer Tom Defalco ridiculed the series in FANTASTIC FOUR (Volume 1) # 396. 

He later got reprimanded for that stunt he pulled.
The series made a complete overhaul in the second season. There were new voice actors, along with Wang Film Productions being replaced by Philippine Animation Studio whose quality aesthetics complemented the mature storytelling that was supervised by Tom Tataranowicz after Friedman was ousted from the series. 

This season not only featured a new intro that implements the classic Lee and Kirby era, but also featured several cameo appearances from the Marvel Universe from Daredevil, Hulk to Thor, Ghost Rider and the Black Panther.  There was even a retelling of Doctor Doom stealing the Silver Surfer's power in the series finale appropriately named, "Doomsday." Despite the second season's overwhelming success, the Marvel Action Hour was canceled in 1996.

However, the biggest setback goes to the 1994 movie adaptation of the Fantastic Four that was in development since 1992. Executive-produced by low-budget specialist Roger Corman had taken the opportunity to utilize the Fantastic Four as part of the incentives that came from New World's acquisition of Marvel. 

Corman made a deal with Producer Bernd Eichinger to develop the movie while maintaining contractual obligations of the intellectual property, but the shits and giggles part of it all, was after the project was finished and heavily promoted by the actors, the film was never released in theaters followed by a cease and desist as the production may have been used as a stalemate tactic, so that Eichinger's Constantin Films can negotiate a deal with a bigger budgeted production studio. The real culprit in this was Avi Arad who did not want the low budget film into the public so, he contacts Eichinger to facilitate a deal and the discussion went down like this:

"Listen, I think what you did was great, it shows your enthusiasm for the movie and the property, and ... I understand that you have invested so-and-much, and Roger has invested so-and-much. Let's do a deal." 
"Because he really didn't like the idea that a small movie was coming out and maybe ruining the franchise.... So, he says to me that he wants to give me back the money that we spent on the movie and that we should not release it."

Both Corman and Eichinger were paid a million dollars each while Arad confiscated the original film footage and in his own words: "burned it."

While still holding onto the rights, Eichinger went on with negotiations and in doing so, his company Constantin began production in 2004 of Fantastic Four which was released by 20th Century Fox, with an estimated $90 million budget. Following that film's 2005 release, Eichinger and Constantin produced a $130 million sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). The 2015 film reboot, FAN4STIC was met with utter disdain by both critics and fans. It was often cited as the worst Fantastic Four adaptation falling far below Roger Corman's version which ironically was more faithful to the comics. So, after acquiring 21st Century Fox Marvel Studios, who of course is now owned by Disney, announced plans to release a Fantastic Four film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe scheduled to be released in 2025.

Joseph Culp, who portrayed Doctor Doom in the film had released a petition on Change.org to get the film released by Marvel Studios. Despite the overwhelming negative reception, Roger Corman's Fantastic Four in hindsight, was a very ambitious project for a very low budgeted Marvel film, when you look at the practical effects, prosthetics, costume designs based on John Byrne"s comic book run and a good soundtrack. The retooled animated series itself, served as a redemption piece for the previous 1994 failure. Both the film and series had paid a modicum of homage to the source material unlike some of the others yes, once again I'm looking at you Fan4stink!

It was the story and dialog itself that was the main culprit. I can easily overlook some of the lower production values, but the storytelling was off putting. Prior to 1994, I attended a autograph signing by Actor Alex Hyde-White who starred as Mr. Fantastic at Jim Hanley's Universe in NYC.
Alex in my opinion, was a very nice guy who complimented my long-sleeved shirt with the signature “4" emblem at the center. Sadly, he and the cast were never compensated for their craft and passion for the project. 
 After 4 attempts, there has been an announcement for another reboot featuring Pedro Pascal, so hopefully the 5th time will be a charm. 
* four fingers crossed*