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Why the New Fantastic Four Movie Bothers Me

Go ahead and have a seat, there's something we have to talk about. We're getting a new Fantastic Four movie. Now, lets clear something up first. I like the Fantastic Four (The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!), really I do. I think a movie faithful to the comic would be amazing. The FF, deep down, isn't a normal superhero story. It's a golden age Sci-Fi story, a pulp adventure. They don't apprehend bank robbers like Spider-Man, they take a spaceship into a microscopic universe and fight mad tyrants. They adventure to the farthest corners of the universe, they run with gods, they do battle with despots, they prevent the end of the world almost every day. The 2005 movie and its sequel had some of the parts there, but it lacked the adventure feeling. It felt too light, too cartoon-ish. Perhaps its issue was one of timing. There was not the climate for serious comic book movies in 2005 that there is now (Batman Begins came out in 2005, marking the early stages of that trend). Maybe all a great Fantastic Four movie needed was time. So here we are. Less than a year away from a Fantastic Four reboot movie. A part of me is pretty excited. I mean, look at their Thing concept! That's pretty good! They're trying a few new things. I always support that. However... over the past couple of news items...  things have begun bothering me more and more. Now, obviously, lets wait to see the movie before passing final judgment, but let me just show you what I'm talking about: [caption id="attachment_60311" align="aligncenter" width="461"]fantastic-four-reboot-cast One's a black! Haha, just kidding. Could you imagine?[/caption]

We're Getting a Grounded, Realistic, Dare I Say... Gritty Take

So yes, the first two movies were too light and cartoonish. It seems that's going to change. Miles Teller, the actor playing Mister Fantastic had this to say: "The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.” This is a bit worrisome. I mean, I'm all for taking source material seriously, but I think there's only so far you can go before it hurts you. If we're using his example, X-Men: First Class isn't what I'd call a more grounded approach then the previous X-Men movies. They eschewed the black leather for a more colorful yellow-and-blue scheme and had a much more comic book-ish plot. I'd say a big part of its success is because it took a more comic-oriented approach. That's not even mentioning the whole of the MCU, which has shown us that not only can a comic book movie break away from the gritty trend, it can actually succeed as well. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="568"] Grounded.[/caption] I think this bothers me because if any Marvel property needed a little un-grounded wonder, Fantastic Four would be it. I'm not even referring to their power sets or their villains. I'm talking about what stories you can tell. The comics are big. They're epic adventures. With that comes a letting go of realism. I think that's fine, Guardians of the Galaxy showed us as much. There are no stories like the ones Fantastic Four can show us anymore. We need a Negative Zone adventure. We need the Fantastic Four to face off against a giant god-like Galactus, or battle Mole Man, or the time traveling Kang the Conqueror. Those aren't stories we really tell anymore. We've had plenty of darker, grittier, realistic comic book movies.

Doctor Doom's Look

Look, I know that there is a certain degree of CGI-touch-up that goes into movie characters. The Winter Soldier's robot arm looked weird in Captain America 2 set photos and everyone made fun of Quicksilver's look in Days of Future Past before they saw him on screen. It happens. I can let it slide. This seems to be going for a kind of living metal body similar to the first movies and Ultimate Marvel's Doom. Which is fine. It kind of makes sense... more sense then armor? Maybe. Anyway, how he got the metal doesn't matter. What matters is the character, and it's a good one. My favorite Marvel villain of all time, Doctor Doom is an incredibly complex character who seems to switch from anti-hero to villain on a whim. So what worries me? He doesn't look intimidating? Maybe'll it change, maybe this Doom early in the movie, but from what I've seen there's nothing there that says DOOM! It'd be creepy to meet this dude in a dark alley, but Doom's not a monster. Doom is a ruler, someone you drop to your knees for in worship. I can see it, with everything the people involved are saying, that the old Doom is too "out there". Too "big". They'll make him a twisted product of the experiment gone wrong. An arrogant genius turned into a monster. It's definitely a part of it, but it's such a small part. There is a bunch to this character we've yet seen explored on screen. I'm afraid this is a sign we'll have to wait a while longer to see it.

This is a Fantastic Four of Necessity

This movie has been in development for a while. At least since 2009. It has gone through a bunch of iterations and approaches over the years, only to get nailed down once Josh Trank, the director of Chronicle, signed on. So why was this being pushed through for all those years? They had a story that needed to be told? Oh no, I think we all know why this was slogging through development. The rights. This is a move that had to be made for Fox to keep the rights. Comic book movies are the thing most reliably earning money for Hollywood right now, Fox'd be damned if they lost a property. So they're going to push this through no matter what, no matter who's attached. This worries me. Movies have a soul. Transformers 4 was a product, it didn't have a soul to it, it wasn't a story that people wanted to tell. And you could feel it. A Fantastic Four movie made with the same mindset could end up the same way. The 2005 movies were campy and light, but there was a vibe there, there was a heart. You could tell that, deep down, there was a fondness for the source material. Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather have a campy, heartfelt misfire than a dark and gritty product. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="482"] Eeeehh, maybe[/caption] But who knows? Maybe this is all just fanboy blues. It may just turn out to be great. What do you think? Excited for it? Let me know why down below.


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