So there’s a new Fantastic Four movie on the horizon.
It’s going to suck.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the casting, and everything to do with the story. A little background to begin with though. The Fantastic Four are prominently known as Marvel’s “First Family” and beyond their powers have always had two defining characteristics at their core. The first being that they are a dysfunctional group whose bonds will ultimately always be stronger than their differences. There’s no problem there, hell with the exception of the Silver Age JLA, that’s how most superhero teams are. The second and far more problematic characteristic, cinematically speaking, is that they are celebrities. Specifically, 1960’s era celebrities.
The problem that the new movie is going to have is that 20th Century Fox (Not Marvel Studios) will try to make the Fantastic Four celebrities in 2015 or so. This translates to the heroes of the story essentially being reduced to characters from “The Hills” who get superpowers. Don’t believe me? Look at the last series of movies that they tried. Maybe just take my word for it though, I don’t think you want to see those abominations again.
Somebody writing the scripts for those films was told that the team had to be perceived as “famous” for a 2005 audience, and so Johnny Storm proceeds to pretty much rebrand them into reality stars. The perception of “celebrity” in the modern era is basically 15 minutes of fame, while we wait (and hope) for people to burn out. By contrast, celebrity in the era that originally defined the Fantastic Four was represented by people such as John Wayne and Audrey Hepburn, and groups like the Beatles. The difference between these people and Sophie Clarke, beyond the fact that you had to just look her up on Wikipedia, is that they are iconic. That’s the level that the Fantastic Four needs to be on in their world and you can’t just open with Galactus to try jumpstart them to that status.
If you really, really want to kick the franchise into gear, then you need to do something new to the franchise, and adapting what they did in the Ultimate universe is not the right way.
– Ultimate Fantastic Four Spoiler Synopsis Alert –
The Fantastic Four are basically overly dramatic 20-year-olds for a little bit until Reed becomes neo-Doctor Doom. The comic did not work. In fact, it’s storytelling fell apart so badly that next series is going to have six members of the Fantastic Four, meaning that redefining the value of the number four was somehow the only way to salvage the team for the Ultimateverse. Now we’re told that the idea is to apply this plot to their next big budget film.
My advice would be this: steal a little plot device from Captain America, particularly the timelock aspect. Seems only fair as they took Chris Evans away for The Avengers. Anyways, keep the original story of Reed and company wanting to beat the filthy commies into space in the early 1960’s, steal their experimental rocket and then use the same space magic — ahem — “cosmic rays” that empowered to also fling them into the future. Mention something about tachyons, that always works for time travely stuff. Boom, your main problem is solved.
The point is that if you need to make the Fantastic Four icons, then make them icons from the right era, or they just don’t work right. Plus there would be some huge story advantages for characters who’ve become icons and miraculously return from the dead. One has to imagine that a group of four people who were thought to be dead from trying to be space explorers, only to come back with superpowers would have a good shot at measuring up to their unintended iconic statuses. In their time away Reed could’ve become the equivalent of a Nicola Tesla, only with even more super science. Sue could have become a female icon, a hero to smart girls everywhere, Johnny a James Dean of sorts, and Ben Grimm a patriotic symbol from both his rocket piloting and of being a veteran of the Korean war (bonus points if the ship that rescues them is the SS Grimm).
So that’s it, my humble opinion on the problems associated with a new Fantastic Four film and how to save it, before it’s too late.
P.S. – You can keep Doctor Doom mostly the same. Without Reed around he may have actually done some good in the world, but could now be kept alive almost entirely by unfinished Baxter building technology. Reed’s return could reignite his vengeful tendencies.