Screenwriter Mark Frost Looks Back Upon Writing For The FANTASTIC FOUR Films
Mark Frost, is perhaps best known as a co-creator of Twin Peaks, with David Lynch, but he also dipped his toes in the comic book movie genre with screenwriting duties on both of director Tim Story and 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four films. See what he had do say.
Mark Frost has worn many hats in his life; an acclaimed television writer for NBC's police drama Hill Street Blues, co-creator of the groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks, a film producer (" The Greatest Game Ever Played"), a novelist ("The Paladin Prophecy"), and a screenwriter for Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Recently, Frost participated in an interview with the site, Portable, and he discussed working on Tim Story's superhero films, which starred; Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing, and Chris "Captain America" Evans as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.
Portable: You worked on the Fantastic Four movies. What’s it like working with someone else’s characters and a pre-established story and adding your own story to that?
Mark Frost: The first movie was a lot fun because I’d collected Fantastic Four as a kid and had a lot of affections for, so they were stories I was very familiar with. The studio had tried to develop the thing for about ten years and it had fallen flat and gone in all sorts of different directions. I kind of steered them back to the original conceptions, the original ideas, the point. In a way it was like working with old friends, these were characters I’d known for 40 years. It was a little different than working with an adaptation that was brand new to me, with characters I didn’t know.
The second movie never really had much of a chance, it had kind of an ass-backwards development where they had named a release date but they didn’t have a movie to go out on that day. The second movie is a bit less effective than the first one, but that was a little different than a straight adaptation. These characters have been around for so long that they’re almost in our collective unconscious of pop culture, so it wasn’t that difficult.
P: Did you feel like you were adding your own voice to a modern myth? The collective unconscious made me think of Jung and Joseph Campbell.
Mark Frost: You’re trying to speak to those characters in the way they spoke to you, bring them up as the archetypes they were originally assigned to be.
P: So to fill the hole they filled back then, while considering the differences in culture?
Mark Frost: Right. I think our infatuation with superhero movies in the last 15 years speaks to that very thing, that interest in trying to form a mythology for a culture, particularly one as diverse and fast-moving as ours. It’s pretty difficult. As the 21st century came on us this set of characters from those books — characters many people first encountered as kids — have suddenly assumed this place of primacy in our collective storytelling. In some ways its a little alarming — they’re not the most mature characters you’ll come across, but at the same time they do address things collectively that are under the surface. These are issues that many people deal with like, identity, and anxiety and “what’s my ultimate role” and “is there such a thing as salvation?” All these things are in these books, these comic books.
P: Did comics and superhero stories help formulate your views of storytelling?
Mark Frost: I was a big Marvel character as a kid, I read a few DC books as well, but they were kinda like the Democrat and Republican party of comics: we didn’t have all the great indie labels that have sprung up since then. Marvel in the way was the upstart, DC had been around for a couple of decades before. I identify pretty strongly with the Marvel brand, and identify with their whole stable of characters.
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