Let me first state I am a huge fan of the Fantastic Four as a comic franchise. The FF is all about relationships. We all have a best friend, a special love in your life and that hard to explain relationship that you have with the love interest’s best friend. In that way the FF should be very relatable. Unfortunately there has not been a film that captures those relationships and that has been the achilles heel in every FF film to date. Reed Richards is the leader of the FF and feels stretched to manage his friendships, love life, and career. Ben Grimm, the Thing, is the rock of the FF and the one Reed leans on when things get rough. Sue struggles to fit in and feels invisible, yet in rough times is extremely powerful. Johnny Storm’s a hot head yet has a lot of fire and energy. The powers the FF gain are not just powers but extensions of their personalities and relationships with each other. I have always thought the FF could make a great film if the relationships were featured properly as they are in the comics.
After a campy attempt in 1994 and a failed attempt in the early 2000’s it looked like the FF were finished. Then in 2013 Fox announced they were rebooting the series. While many considered this only an attempt to keep the franchise from returning to Marvel, I was cautiously optimistic as Josh Trank of Chronicle fame was announced as the director. Then over the next year and a half was a barrage of script leaks, bad press, and second guessing of every move that FOX and Trank made. As the film neared release there was talk that this could be the worst Superhero film of all time. I went into the film hoping that the film would stick to the comic roots and feature the groups relationships, but needles to say my hopes were low.
This current film begins with meeting a young Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in school as they become friends. We quickly advance a few years and they are best friends, because we are told that. In this film we are told of relationships rather than shown. Then we meet Mr. Storm and his adopted daughter, Sue, who recruits Reed to work for the Baxter foundation. This is where things begin to derail as it is strays from the comics. In the comics Franklin Richards in a bit character and not really important to the FF. In the film he is a very interesting character and the link to the FF becoming the super group that they will become. Franklin Richards gets Reed to help outcast Victor von Doom and his son Johnny to build a transporter to the mysterious Planet X.
This leads to the moment of the film where the FF and Doom get their powers, a turning point where the film starts to become strange. Instead of any team building or learning of powers the government becomes involved and Reed Richards runs away. As this happens in the second act we feel a build to something big. The problem is we never get the payoff. There is evidence that FOX reshot director Josh Trank’s third act and the film feels like that is exactly what happened. The third act is Dr.Doom threatening the world and the FF finally becoming the iconic team with the classic one liners. The ending is as generic as a box of Corn Flakes. It just doesn’t fit the tone of the film’s previous acts. I didn’t enjoy the first two acts as they were’nt loyal to the comics, but I would like to see where it was headed; maybe Trank had a way to bring it all together but we will never know.
So the prophecy of the Fantastic Four being the worst comic book film came close, but was not fulfilled. While I don’t hate the film, I could nitpick on things like Ben Grimm’s lack of pants. I generally found the film boring and forgettable. I’m sure more information will come out about the strange change of tone as there was definitely some behind the scenes problems but I can only judge the film from what was shown. This is definitely a pass and yet another piece of evidence that when you stray from the source material nothing good happens to a comic book film.
Feature Picture Courtesy of: Comicbookmovie.com
Article Pictures Courtesy of: Marvel and Bloody Disgusting