With the release of the massively disappointing Fantastic Four movie (check out our review), it got me thinking about how Hollywood keeps messing up one of comic book’s greatest teams. There have been many stellar Fantastic Four stories written over the last 50+ years. However, of the three movies released (four if you count the crappy Roger Corman one from the 90’s) none have managed to capture the essence of the franchise.
So what does it take to make an AWESOME Fantastic Four movie? Read on to find out!
The first thing that needs to be nailed down is the team’s origin. The new movie’s origin is inspired by the Ultimate Fantastic Four where the team gains their powers from a teleporter accident. While this idea is really cool and based in actual science, it isn’t easy for movie audiences to really understand. The movie simplifies it somewhat, but there is still a lot of exposition and setup that needs to be delivered which dragged this latest film down.
The classic origin where the team gains powers from being hit by cosmic rays may seem silly but it CAN work if done right. In fact, it actually was done in a very cool way nearly 20 years ago.
People may have forgotten that the first reboot of the Fantastic Four was done back in the mid 90’s in Marvel Comics’ Heroes Reborn. In this event, the team goes into space when an anomaly is located in Earth’s orbit. This anomaly is actually the Silver Surfer whose power cosmic radiation gives the heroes their powers. Well… that and nuclear explosions set off by Doctor Doom… but we’ll talk about him later on.
This origin borders on the “space magic” side of things, but I think it would go over well with audiences. Also, it’s closer to the classic origin we all know while also setting up Silver Surfer and Galactus for a later movie.
With that said though, we don’t need ANOTHER origin movie. The team’s origin should be told in flashbacks, kind of like what we saw in Man of Steel. This way, we can get right to the good stuff and have the team be the full on Fantastic Four everyone wants to see.
Even though they may look like it, the Fantastic Four are NOT superheroes. Yeah, they save the world every other Tuesday before breakfast, but they actually aren’t in the superhero business. The team is first and foremost explorers. Reed Richards is the smartest man on Earth and is always discovering things… things which are usually pretty dangerous and that the team has to stop.
A Fantastic Four movie should try to do what the comics did and show us realms and dimensions that really capture the imagination. A trip into The Negative Zone–the REAL Negative Zone, not the stupid Planet Zero from the latest movie–with it’s weird distorted landscapes and kaleidoscope colors would be awesome to see.
Instead of trying to wow us with neat super powered battles, a Fantastic Four movie should really attempt to amaze us by showing stuff we’ve never seen before. If a movie can capture even a tenth of what Kirby did during his historic run, then it will be heading in the right direction.
In most superhero movies, the heroes are either outcasts or super soldiers working for the government. A Fantastic Four movie should play on the fact that everyone knows (and loves) the team…. that they are celebrities. Even the goofy Fantastic Four movies from the mid-2000s touched on this aspect because it is an important factor of the team.
Having the Fantastic Four be celebrities would make the movie light-hearted, but seeing as how people didn’t like the darker tone of the new movie, they’d probably welcome this. Also, and let’s just be honest here, people like the lighter nature of Marvel Studios movies, so having the team be beloved celebrities would work very well. And as I said above, making them be celebrities instantly distinguishes them from every other superhero team out there.
The Fantastic Four are called “the first family of Marvel” for a reason. This isn’t a group of people brought together by fate or weird circumstance… they’re family and this is something that STRONGLY needs to be emphasized in a movie.
Families bicker and squabble but they always come together when it counts the most. Letting the audiences feel that these larger than life characters truly care about one another will help in making them more relatable. It also sends a nice message about overcoming adversity when you have family there to back you up no matter what.
The original Fantastic Four movies actually didn’t do a bad job in this department, but the new one completely mishandles the family dynamic. Any good FF movie has to have the family dynamic as its central core.
The one thing that absolutely NEEDS to be done right is Doctor Doom. Doom is arguably the greatest comic book villain of all time, but his representation in movies has been abysmal. When the freakin’ Avengers Assemble cartoon gets Doom spot on but the movies don’t, you know there’s a problem. Doom has to be menacing, cunning, and larger than life in order for him to be an effective and awe inspiring villain. He shouldn’t be a glorified green crash test dummy like he is in the latest FF movie.
Like the classic version of the character, Doom should be college roommates with Reed Richards and have the whole lab accident which scarred his face happen to him. It’s good to have Doom and Richards have a past connection but it’s more important to have Doom be the ruler of his own nation, Latveria.
One of the things that makes Doom an interesting villain is that he can’t be arrested due to his diplomatic immunity. This makes it harder to have him answer for his crimes, not only because the U.S government can’t easily arrest a foreign head of state, but because the Fantastic Four, who are American citizens, would cause an international incident by violating Latveria’s sovereignty if they went there to capture Doom.
While Doom is easily the most formidable and persistent Fantastic Four villain, I would actually hold off on using him until the second movie. You can establish him in the first film, but really get into a full blown conflict with him in the sequel.
It is a crime that the team responsible for giving us the comic book industry we know today, and in return, the amazing comic book movies we enjoy, has had such an abysmal track record on the silver screen. Now may not be the best time considering the bad taste the new film has left in people’s mouths, but this franchise needs another shot to prove itself.
If Hollywood ever decides to take this franchise seriously, then getting all of the things I listed above correct is the best way to give us the FANTASTIC Fantastic Four movie we deserve. Maybe when the rights revert back to Marvel we’ll actually see that happen… but that is another story for another day.