Rumors that director Josh Trank's time might be over in that galaxy far, far away came to the surface when he was a shocking no-show at the "Star Wars Celebration" in April.
Pegged to direct a spinoff of the saga, his absence at the fan convention started whispers that he might get booted off the project. That was then confirmed two weeks after "Celebration" when Lucasfilm announced that Trank was no longer the director of their anthology film.
Trade papers The Hollywood Reporter and Variety made it sound like Trank — who is the director of the upcoming "Fantastic Four” reboot — was fired due to “erratic” behavior on the set of “Four” and that the director had a rift with its co-writer/producer Simon Kinder, who is also a producer on the “Star Wars” spinoff. However Trank, in his first interview addressing the matter, told the L.A. Times that he wasn't fired.
Trank said he walked away from the "Star Wars" universe because of the criticism he's taken from the “Fantastic Four” fan community.
“I want to do something original after this because I’ve been living under public scrutiny, as you’ve seen, for the last four years of my life,” Tank told the L.A. Times, referring to his time making "Fantastic Four.” “And it’s not healthy for me right now in my life. I want to do something that’s below the radar.”
Part of that “public scrutiny” was the decision to change the race of the The Human Torch, which will be played by Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”).
Trank also denies the allegations that he was erratic on the set of “Fantastic Four.”
Kinberg came to Trank's defense in the Times story: “This, I would say, is particularly cruel. I haven’t really seen this level of vehemence against a filmmaker. And it’s surreal and unfair."
Trank had spent a year developing the “Star Wars” spinoff, Lucasfilm is currently looking for his replacement as it continues to develop the project.
Filmmakers having to deal with passionate fans is nothing new, but since the advent of the Internet, and particularly social media, they have become susceptible to the positive and negative feedback on a more intimate level.
Following the release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," Joss Whedon shut down his Twitter account. Whedon told BuzzFeed it was because he was going to start writing a new project, but the death threats were probably a motivation to stop looking at his feed as well.
And this quote from George Lucas — perhaps one of the longest sufferers of fan backlash — following the sale of Lucasfilm showed up in Vanity Fair’s May cover story on “The Force Awakens” and mirrors Trank's attitude:
“It was fine before the Internet… But now . . . it’s gotten very vicious and very personal. You just say, ‘Why do I need to do this?’”