Quote from Majestic on February 3, 2013, 14:42
Likewise with the Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie of that era, which was so bad they wouldn't even release it to video. You can see it on bootlegs, but it was really only made on a pathetic budget in order to retain the film rights longer.
I've never actually seen this 'Fantastic Four' movie. But I've definitely heard of it and always wanted to see it. A later issue of "Comics Scene" magazine had several articles devoted to it, including photos of the main characters in costume, cast interviews, and an interview with the guy heading up the special effects.
I'd heard that the movie was terribly low budget, so it cracked me up that the SFX guy was raving about the work they'd done on the film. Having already read over a dozen earlier issues of "Comics Scene," it also made me laugh that, years earlier, Stan Lee had been touting publicly how this same German film company that held the rights to the 'Fantastic Four' was going to make this super high budget FF film centering on their first meeting with the Silver Surfer and Galactus. And in the end, years later, what results is them giving Roger Corman a paltry $4 million to crank out the cheapest possible FF film, apparently as a 'back door' way for this German film company to prevent their rights to the FF from lapsing due to non-performance.
And there is good old "Comics Scene" magazine, eagerly publishing full color photos of the FF in spandex costumes with sewn on '4' logos that wouldn't meet the standard for a Comic Con costume today, along with cast and crew interviews. Nothing I read betrayed any understanding that this 'movie' was really just a creative way for the film company to pay $4 million to extend their rights to the FF, and that it was never going to be seen by audiences.
Though in fairness, "Comics Scene" very successfully accomplished its primary goal by publishing that. It was clearly something its readership (including me, even 20 years later) was very interested in, and so would presumably drive sales of the magazine. (I say 'clearly' because the overwhelming majority of their covers over the years featured photos from upcoming movies and TV shows.) I read all of their coverage of this FF film avidly and was very entertained. So I can't really criticize the magazine. They did their job.
But thinking back, I suppose I wish they'd taken a slightly more skeptical editorial line about these low budget movie adaptations of Marvel characters at the time. By not doing so, I remember my youthful, teenaged hopes being elevated sky high by their similar coverage of other films (the "Captain America" movie in particular) - with what on hindsight seems like almost no justification whatsoever. "Comics Scene" was just making 'stone soup.'
I was surprised by how Stan Lee abetted this, too. Over-and-over he is quoted in the magazine talking up soon to be released TV and movie adaptions of Marvel heroes, in his characteristic 'carnival barker' way. And then, months later, long after the TV shows have already aired or the movies have come and gone from theaters, he's quoted again acknowledging (usually in qualified, 'political' ways), the patently obvious deficiencies. (When asked about the depiction of Thor in the 1980s 'Hulk' TV movie that had recently aired he said something like, "You can imagine how well that went over in The Bullpen.") As a kid, I sort of thought of Stan Lee as a 'buddy' and a creative genius. This made him seem more like a mere corporate shill. As the man spearheading Marvel's efforts in Hollywood at the time, I suppose he had little to gain by 'biting the hand that feeds.' That's understandable. But at the same time he was using goodwill he'd built up with kids for years in a way that wasn't necessarily in their best interests.
To his discredit, I also noticed a tendency Stan Lee had to talk up his role in developing future movie and TV projects but then, after these abominations were released and had been critical and financial failures, he would be quoted again minimizing his own involvement ("I'm just a consultant- they don't have to listen to me"), touting recent changes in how Marvel was going to do business in Hollywood going forward, and promising 'brighter days' in the future.