Spider-Man and X2 both gave us reasons to believe in the genre. The hopes of a shared universe were alive, even though rights were all over the place. This led to many more Marvel - then, eventually, DC - characters hitting the big screen. Before we got the Marvel Cinematic Universe/DC Extended Universe, there were attempts at movies from comics that had high hopes but ultimately fell short. One of those air-balls, a sequel to a figurative missed layup, is 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
The movie showed us the franchise's potential and made money, so they were given another shot.
Two years later, we get the aforementioned sequel. It ends up being what I can only describe as a 93-minute mess of story arc mashups. They hadn't quite closed the book on Doctor Doom. They decided to add the Silver Surfer and Galactus to the fray. Kerry Washington's Alicia Masters had her story squeezed into the first film and she just kind of hung around in this one. The Fantasticar showed up, but definitely should've been redesigned. Oh, and there's a wedding.
Many fans, myself included, were more than excited to see the Silver Surfer's film incarnation, prior to its release. We did not get what we had hoped for. He was... silver. Cool. He was voiced by Laurence Fishburne for some reason? The board is the source of his power, and taking it renders him powerless. Umm, ok. He flew around mixing up the heroes' abilities and giving Doom even more strength, mistakenly. What? They never clearly state what the Surfer is capable of so they just make him able to do everything, whether it be on purpose or by accident. Apparently, no one cared to understand how the Silver Surfer works. The big fight ends with a game of intergalactic chicken, more or less. It was infuriating.
When it was all said and done the sequel was unable to outperform it's predecessor, and the future of the franchise went from bleak to not existing. Critics agreed that there was almost nothing "fantastic" about it. The original deal had the cast signed on for three installments, but by 2008 it was already reported to be nixed. There was no chance of them mixing it up with Spidey, or fighting alongside the X-Men. How did they ruin what should have been such a good thing?
The 2015 reboot proved that Fox is still unable to find an effective way to take them from page to screen, but it feels like the Fantastic Four's fate had been determined already by Rise of the Silver Surfer. A better product could've easily resulted in a much bigger franchise but, with the reboot also failing, it seems as if we won't see another attempt any time soon. I've made my peace with it, because Chris Evans playing Human Torch means Chris Evans NOT playing Captain America, and that's a trade-off we're all happy with taking.
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%