Although it’s tempting to think that superhero movies and TV shows are a new phenomenon, they actually go back a long way. Indeed, you can find the start of the craze as way back as the 1940s with Batman serials and movies at the cinemas.
While there were other series along the way, most notably the George Reeves Superman and the Adam West Batman in the 50s and 60s, it wasn’t really until the 70s that things really took off, particularly for Marvel Comics, who were somewhat late to the party.
Although it’s tempting to think of Marvel as always having been on top compared to DC, thanks to its current dominance with the MCU, most of its movies and TV shows of that period were misfires. The Incredible Hulk was a notably successful TV show in the 70s, but The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Thor, Daredevil and others all got floated as potential series or movies, usually with nothing good happening as a result… or during.
Skip forward to the early 90s, when superheroes were starting to come back in vogue, thanks to Batman, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton.
Simultaneously, Marvel was trying to get a Fantastic Four movie off the ground. And to help, they brought in cinematic legend Roger Corman as a producer.
Starring Rebecca Staab, Jay Underwood, Alex Hyde-White and Michael Bailey Smith, Corman’s Fantastic Four is probably the most true to the original comics of all the various productions, right down to the costumes, with our heroes getting special powers after flying a spaceship too close to a comet, after which they have to team up to fight Victor Von Doom (Joseph Culp).
Of course, making a movie authentic to a comic book and making a good movie aren’t necessarily the same thing. In true Corman style, The Fantastic Four cost just US$1 million to make. It also never got released. That should tell you something.
All the same, it managed to escape into the wild and you can now watch it on YouTube. Enjoy! I hope…