Josh Trank has been making the rounds of late, drumming up support for his new Tom Hardy film Capone—and, perhaps inevitably, fielding plenty of questions about the apparent self-destruction of the 2015 Fantastic Four movie, an endeavor that functionally immolated his then-rising career. Trank has been fairly insistent in interviews that he’s got few regrets about the film, despite all the conflicts and meddling that took place during its filming. But he did describe one moment of deep contrition about its creation, one that he expressed to First Cut’s The Meaning Of podcast this week: Not walking away from the movie after producers made it clear he wouldn’t be allowed to cast a Black actress as Susan Storm.
For those whose memory of the film are fuzzy, Trank dropped his old Chronicle star Michael B. Jordan into the role of Johnny Storm, but ended up tapping Kate Mara to play his super-powered sister. (Reg. E. Cathey played Sue’s adopted dad, Franklin.) In the interview, Trank described getting “heavy pushback” from undisclosed higher ups about trying to cast Sue with a Black actress as well, with enough pressure being brought to bear to make it clear that it wasn’t going to happen. Trank appears genuinely upset with himself about not walking from the movie at that point. “When I look back on that,” he says, “I should have just walked when that realization hit me. And I feel embarrassed about that, that I didn’t. Just out of principle.”
Trank spoke, back at the time, about how he wishes audiences could have seen “his” Fantastic Four, and later described the film’s reshoot process as being akin to being “castrated.” He’s typically been light on specifics of how he feels like the movie was taken out of his hands, but this particular anecdote makes clear that even during the casting process his opinions weren’t necessarily the ones that were getting the most consideration.