Since its announcement, I have not been too excited about the new Fantastic Four movie. Not entirely keeping up with developments, I assumed the rights for the franchise had reverted back to Marvel. Nope, Fox still owned the rights and in order to keep them, they were rebooting the series with a new film. I wanted Marvel Studios to take back the Fantasic Four so they could use them in their wide cinematic universe. The realization that this many nownever happen made me angry.
The tidbits of info we got about the movie did little to change my feelings. It was going to be gritty and dark. Johnny and Susan Storm were no longer blood related. And the worst part? Doctor Doom, the greatest of Marvel’s villains, was being re-imagined as an angry blogger that goes by the handle “Doom” on the internet. I didn’t like ANY of this.
As a fan of the Fantastic Four, these changes sullied the legacy of this historic franchise. I wanted more than anything for this movie to tank so that Marvel would regain the rights. Yeah, it would hurt to have a third terrible Fantastic Four (four if you count Roger Corman‘s atrocity), but if it meant Marvel’s first family going to where they belonged then so be it. The ends justify the means and all that.
This past week, Fox released the first teaser trailer for the film. I prepared myself to hate this with every fiber of my being and to spill my rage all over the internet. But, that’s not what happened. I sat there, watched it all… and didn’t feel a damn thing. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t happy, I had no reaction whatsoever. There was no emotional response at all.
As the days passed, I couldn’t get the trailer out of my head. It had a strange hold on me and wouldn’t let go. I thought about the tone of the movie and how it didn’t turn me off. In fact, the more I thought about what I saw, the more I actually liked it. I finally realized what this movie was going for. After reading a few interviews with the makers of the film and seeing fan videos dissecting the trailer, I’ve now become cautiously optimistic about the movie. Consider this a case of me eating crow, people. Let me explain myself.
My biggest beef with the film was its darker tone. While the original book isn’t dark, its counterpart Ultimate version sure is. In fact, THAT book is the film’s main source of inspiration. How could I dislike a darker version of the Fantastic Four on film when I already love a darker version in the books? It makes no sense for me to feel that way. This was the big breakthrough I needed to be open-minded and positive about the film.
I love the Ultimate Fantastic Four books because of the way they modernized the team. How they get their abilities in this version is more complicated than the original but is it based on actual science. This is the origin that will also be used in the movie which itself wants to be more grounded. I fully expect the movie to go into detail about how the team’s powers work just like the books did. That right there makes me giddy.
Attention to detail seems to be something the movie is definitely going for given what the team wears. They’re not costumes at all but containment suits. Since most of their powers are dangerous not only to themselves but to those around them, this approach makes sense. Reed Richards has wires on his suit to help him reel his stretching limbs back and Johnny Storm has vents so he can let off heat. This is all great, realistic stuff.
Let’s go back to the serious tone of the movie for a moment and discuss the public’s perception of the franchise. Let’s be real here, the last two Fantastic Four movies did nothing to help the franchise grow in popularity. Probably the opposite in fact. Although I wanted this movie to bomb so that Marvel could get the rights, I now see how that may destroy any credibility this franchise could potentially have. It’s better to have a movie that audiences will take seriously and will be successful under Fox than have it flop just so Marvel can retake it.
The last reason I am now optimistic about the movie is how it’s handling the superhero aspect of it all. In fact, this doesn’t feel like a superhero movie! What makes the Fantastic Four so great is that they are NOT superheroes. They are, for the lack of a better term, science explorers. The best stories, and the ones where the true potential of this franchise comes through, are the ones where theoretical science, discovering new worlds, and radical scientific concepts are at the forefront. THAT is the core of Fantastic Four and something even the comics seem to forget most of the time.
Before I wrap this up I need to bring up the elephant in the room: Doctor Doom. I may be biased since he is one of my all-time favorite villains but I never liked his character in the Ultimate books. I’m not a fan of what he is in this movie either. An internet troll? Come on, man! Ultimate Doom and Domashev (as he’s being called) don’t have the sense of awe or inspire the dread that Victor Von Doom is supposed to. The movie version of him might work, but so far he seems to be the main thing that will hurt this film.
After spending so long hating this movie, it’s odd knowing that I am looking forward to it now. I can’t shut my eyes to what I’ve seen so far because what I’ve seen seems pretty damn cool. This isn’t the classic Fantastic Four, but that’s okay since it’s the Ultimate version of the team. That’s enough to give me hope of this movie being good. It may still be a stink-fest, but I have hope where none existed before. I believe and hold onto hope that this Fantastic Four movie will be a film worth watching.