The first Fantastic Four film is one that most Marvel fans probably haven’t seen. Back in the early 1990s, there wasn’t much excitement about films based on Marvel properties thanks largely to the failure of 1986’s “Howard the Duck.” German filmmaker Bernd Eichinger purchased the rights to “The Fantastic Four” from Stan Lee in 1983. Although a script was pitched to several studios, Eichinger was running out of time to make a film by 1992.
To retain the rights to the characters, Eichinger hired legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman to make a cheap film that could be quickly produced. With a budget of $1 million, Corman hired Alex Hyde-White as Mr. Fantastic, Rebecca Staab as the Invisible Woman, Jay Underwood as the Human Torch, Michael Bailey Smith as Ben Grimm (with Carl Ciarfalio as the Thing), and Joseph Culp as Dr. Doom. “Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight” director Oley Sassone was brought in as the director.
The production schedule was rushed, and Stan Lee even publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the direction that the project was taking. After some marketing materials were released, the film was given a tentative release date of January 19, 1994. It was set to debut at a charitable event at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. However, the premiere was halted at the last minute, and the film was permanently shelved. It never received a proper release, although there are bootlegs online.