When rumors hit the web that Fox wanted Chronicle director Josh Trank to helm the reboot of Fantastic Four, I sort of took it to mean that Chronicle wasn't very good. While I love Fox as a decades-old studio, I find many of their recent decisions baffling and have found that sometimes, like with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, they seem to not know when they have a good thing on their hands. But after watching Chronicle I totally get it - Trank is indeed perfect for Fantastic Four.
There's a really specific thing about Chronicle that convinced me of this - the way Trank works with his actors to get a palpable sense of friendship and camaraderie. The Fantastic Four is, first and foremost, a family unit, so nailing that sense of affection and connection is key to getting the characters right on screen. The original films never really got that, settling instead for a sitcom level of interplay. Reed and Sue are the mom and dad, and Ben and Johnny are the brothers whose love for each other is hidden behind constant teasing and fighting. Those relationships need to be organic, and Trank could make them work.
What's more, Trank's approach to the fantastical in Chronicle is tremendous. Everything these kids do feels real, and I don't mean that in some grim and gritty way. Everything flows from character and is presented with the right mix of awe and grounded truth. While the Fantastic Four have iconic villains, what really defines them for me is the sense of intellectual curiosity and adventure that propels them, and I believe that Trank could get at that in a way that wouldn't feel cartoony.
Finally, Chronicle surprised me by being sort of corny - in an endearing way. While it's a found footage film, Chronicle has very little to say about the media-saturated lives of modern youth and in fact largely ignores that aspect. When the kids want to show off with their powers they don't take to YouTube to impress millions, they perform at the school talent show. You could see Peter Parker hatching that plan back in 1962. There's something nicely retro in the way that Chronicle deals with these kids and their powers, and I think that no matter when Fantastic Four is set there needs to be a retro element. The FF are of the age when the United States wanted to get to the Moon, when advances in science were exciting and sexy - an inherently retro attitude in the 21st century, where all anyone cares about is smaller phones and better graphics. But to lose that element would be to lose what makes the Fantastic Four special.
I don't know that Trank would want to do another superhero movie after his debut, but if he took Fantastic Four (and there was a decent script, of course) we could all breathe a sigh of relief - Marvel's First Family would be in good hands.