The Marvel Cinematic Universe was just dealt something of a creative blow about one of their most-anticipated movies. They lost a director who’s already had considerable success in the superhero space, having put together one of the great trilogies we’ve ever seen in the genre. Deadline is reporting that Jon Watts has left the upcoming Fantastic Four movie which has to leave fans more than a little bummed. Considering the kind of trouble that particular group has had on the big screen already, having Watts potentially in behind the camera was certainly a reason for optimism.
With this reporting, it doesn’t appear as if there was any friction or creative differences around why Jon Watts decided to step away. Instead, the director referenced having been a bit burned out on the superhero genre after helping the Spider-Man Homecoming trilogy that just wrapped up in spectacular fashion last year. Citing needing a break from this type of film Watts and Marvel came to what’s being called an “amicable” split around Fantastic Four.
Seeing what Jon Watts did with the Homecoming trilogy does have to have fans anticipating the Fantastic Four movie a bit thrown off. Watts completely crushed it on Homecoming, Far From Home, and ultimately No Way Home. Escalating the stakes through all three films, and adding significant gravity around Tom Holland’s Peter Parker while also keeping things irreverent at times, he managed to pull off something truly great in the final movie when Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield all shared the screen. It was one of the truly great culminations of a character arc that somehow gave closure to the other Spider-Man versions as well.
As for Fantastic Four, well this seemed like a property that really needed a steady and creative hand to handle the story. Jon Watts and his vision seemed like the perfect guy to take up the mantle considering the first couple of stabs at this foursome have left folks a bit nonplussed. There were the two Tim Story-led films that started in 2005 with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans (Pre-Cap days), and Michael Chiklis as the titular group. They were clunky affairs that predated the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And then there was the Josh Trank 2015 version with Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell. Arguably, this one did even worse, barely making back its budget and scoring a miserable 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Though at the time this was likely supposed to spawn a new franchise around the group, the performance was so unbelievably bad that there was no reason to keep up the ruse at all. Hence Jon Watts initially taking over for this new one.
Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox back in 2017 set the stage for bringing this group into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the same move that will help eventually fold the X-Men and Deadpool into the mix. It’s unclear what the future holds for Fantastic Four though Marvel’s track record along these lines means we should likely give it the benefit of the doubt even with Jon Watts no longer in the director’s chair.