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Nobody Gives a Damn About 'The Fantastic Four,' but They Should

By Corey Atad | Think Pieces | August 14, 2014 | Comments ()


Fantastic 4 logo.jpg

I don’t like superhero movies. I just don’t. I am capable of liking them, and I love Christopher Nolan’s Batmen, and The Incredibles, but in general superhero movies don’t do it for me. Why? Simply that the movies tend toward the same churn of machine-made, soulless competent mediocrity. I’ve essentially made myself a rule not to bother with them anymore, no matter how “fun” people claim they are. There is one superhero movie on the horizon, though, that I’m fascinated by, even interested in: The Fantastic Four.

Now, that may not be the final title. It probably won’t be, considering there was a movie released not ten years ago called The Fantastic Four. That, in part, may be why nobody seems to give a damn about this new reboot of the franchise. We just went through a cycle of these movies and they didn’t work the first time, so there’s no reason to be interested now.

WRONG.

Do I need to list the reasons you should get your head out of your butt and pay attention to this movie coming out next year? I’ll take your silence as a “yes.” This is the Internet after all.

Josh Trank

josh_trank.jpg

Remember this guy? He directed the found footage hit Chronicle, which brought freshness to a worn out genre, and unsuspectingly delivered one of the few good superhero stories in recent years. The guy is a talent, and his flare for originality in approaching tired genres should be a boon to a studio-craft superhero franchise. He’s also been hired by LucasFilm to direct a Star Wars spin-off, which signals that his work on this movie has caught the eye of Kathleen Kennedy and Disney.

The Casting

michael-b-jordan_huge.jpg

The film’s few major headlines came several months ago when the casting for the film was announced. Miles Teller is playing Mr. Fantastic, which sounds like a pretty swell choice. The Invisible Woman is Kate Mara, another excellent choice for a superhero movie. Jamie Bell was cast as The Thing, and it seems like he’s doing the role in mo-cap, which will probably look a lot cooler than Michael Chiklis in a bodysuit and makeup. The biggest surprise in the casting was the choice for The Human Torch: Michael B. Jordan. What I love about this casting is it finally brings some diversity to one of these superhero movies, but that the choice was clearly made because Trank likes working with Jordan. It’s the right actor for the job, a way for the director to bring the best possible movie to the screen, and a boon to diversity on screen. It’s a win-win-win.

The Attitude

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When Kate Mara was asked in an interview with Esquire Latin America, what her opinion of comic books is, she responded, “I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published. So I chose to follow his instructions.”

I’m sure a lot of comic book fans would bristle at that quote, but guess what, they’re making a movie, not a comic book. The stories that work on the page don’t necessarily work on the screen. Furthermore, the idea that movies should simply tread the same territory covered in a different medium is antithetical to bringing something original to audiences. Personally, I love that Trank doesn’t care at all about hewing to the prescribed text. It gives them the freedom to do what feels right, rather than what they think audiences want from them.

No Hype-Train

It probably sounds weird to say that the lack of excitement is a good reason to get excited, but it makes sense in my head. Normally, with a film like this, we’d have seen countless reports and leaked videos from the set. There would be all kinds of attempts to leak the plot and every other detail about it. Thankfully, nobody seems to care about The Fantastic Four. Last week the film finished shooting, and most people who read that were surprised to learn it had been shooting to begin with. In the age of online movie reporting, it’s refreshing to think that this film has the chance to come out and take audiences by surprise.

Corey Atad is a Staff Writer for Pajiba. He lives in Toronto.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Davis

    It's just chronicle with a bigger budget

  • YoungPrime

    Nothing about this film feels legit. I hate the cast, the "gritty tone" with found footage elements is meh, the director should've just make Chronicle pt2, the budget is low, they were too ashamed to show their faces at SDCC and just finished filming yet still don't even have an official name for it. Fox has clearly just thrown some random crap together in order to hold on to the rights. The hits on this site must really suck if pandering for this train wreck is the only way to get peoples attention. Either way, I didn't read it since I've heard all the lame excuses already. REVERT BACK TO MARVEL!!!

  • Doctor Strom Kilwell

    So niche director, solid cast, and a story that isn't exactly straight out of the comic? Last I heard "Guardians of the Galaxy" was already in theaters.

    Or was there too much hype for that?

  • In a weird sense, the FF are the very opposite of the traditional superhero/comic book franchise.

    - No secret identities for them or for most of their villains.
    - It's actually dealing with family dynamics, mental health issues, racial issues and celebrity-hood way before those topics became normal.
    - They face all kinds of threats: from the cosmic (Skrulls, Galactus) to the underwater (Namor) to the subterranean (Mole Man) to the otherworldly (Inhumans).
    - Their archnemesis (Doctor Doom) is one of the most interesting, complex, crazy villains ever. To wit, he's the despotic ruler of an Eastern European nation, which he governs thanks to advanced technology and magic.

    My fear with this movie is that they're going to 1) go origin story on us and 2) give us something lame.

  • Icemonkey

    This may wind up being a great story but why call it Fantastic Four if no one involved cares about making a Fantastic Four movie? These are good actors and they might make a really good movie but the title will have the majority of the people seeing it looking for something else.

    Why adapt a property but purposefully ignore it at the same time?

  • wonkeythemonkey

    Probably because this combination of cool superpowers and familial interaction has worked so well for so long. You can't just lift that dynamic wholesale unless you take the FF brand with it.

  • Cowtools

    Y'know, beginning a post/review by stating how the writer doesn't like superheroes (a common trend I've noticed) basically amount to saying "Listen up nerds! A real critic is talking! Your opinions don't count because LOL nerdrage."

    The reason I don't care about this movie is that it seems like Fantastic Four in name only. I DON'T want them to retread the comics, because that's a different medium, but nothing about this film suggests it will be interesting otherwise.

    If they announced they were making a new movie where Batman was a teenage slacker whose parents were still alive, I'd ignore that film to.

    Or a move about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where they were originally April's pets and learnt to be ninjas from reading a book, then...oh wait...

  • ironypants

    "Christopher Nolan’s Batmen". teeheehee.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I think I'd pay to see "Christopher Nolan's: BATMEN"

  • Luke

    Neal Adams recently pointed out the only good FF story line involved Silver Surfer and that they split the licensing on that and screwed up the movie version... was on Fatman on Batman

  • Zuffle

    See, that's where the film could improve upon the source material; you don't have to obey every storyline beat-for-beat (studio interference at that point only makes comic book adaptations a muddy mess - see the previous F4 movies, LXG or Amazing Spidey 2). If they can take what's great about the characters, stay true to that, and come up with a great original storyline that doesn't fuck with the origin or purity of the original comics, then fans and newcomers will welcome it equally. Don't see that happening here, though.

  • Yocean

    Your argument sounds very hipster. Invalid.

  • robinvik1 .

    People should care because people don't care?

  • GranPeligro

    The last Fantastic Four films did not really stick all that much to the comics. They took the general ideas and made a number of changes going forward. Those movies were rather bad. Also, as has been said, this was more about stopping copyright being reverted back to Marvel. Makes it hard to take the film seriously. You add in the comic fans feelings to FF, a series thats only had a handful of popular runs other than the original creators work, of course there doesn't have a lot of buzz. Personally, I'd love someone to do a Marvel comic film that actually captures the spirit of Jack Kirby's style. I doubt FF will be that one.

  • Repo

    If we are going to revel in the decision to throw out the source material and applaud them for it, it just begs the question why call it the Fantastic Four at all?

  • Guest

    racially stereotyping the black guy as fast isn't diversity.

    totally kidding.

  • SamuraiShampoo

    I'd be all about the diversity if I thought for a second that it was actually intentional and not just an actor getting shoehorned into a role because the director happens to like him.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    So what you're saying is:

    Diversity for the sake of diversity: Cool
    Diversity that results from casting an actor that has onscreen chemistry and synergy with the director: Uncool

    Seems a bit prickly to me.

  • The Butt

    "The stories that work on the page don’t
    necessarily work on the screen. Furthermore, the idea that movies should
    simply tread the same territory covered in a different medium is
    antithetical to bringing something original to audiences."

    Yeah that's always been my complaint about the Marvel Cinematic Universe...they're successfully adapting and respecting too much of the source material and creating something too entertaining. :-P

  • logan

    You owe me a new sarcasm detector. Mines blown to bits.

  • My only quibbles with the casting are Teller and Bell. If Michael B. Jordan can't be Mr. Fantastic, I feel like the other guys would be better off switching roles. Teller comes much closer to the blue collar Thing, while Bell could actually make Reed Richards sympathetic. Kate Mara is perfect, though.

  • NateMan

    I don't want Mr. Fantastic to be sympathetic, though. The dude's a total tool.

  • Ha, well, I guess I was thinking someone with Bell's talents could be somewhere between Ionn Gruffudd's milquoetoast take on the character and Stephen Colbert's Mr. Impossible from The Venture Bros. Whatever Reed Richards is, he isn't Miles Teller -- save for the maximum dickage aspect.

  • manting

    venture brothers is the bees tits. The cats footie pajamas.

  • John W

    I'm withholding judgement until after I've seen it. The FF was one of my fav comics growing up.

  • JoeK

    I'm working up exactly as much enthusiasm as the producers, studio, and cast have generated to this point.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I love pretty much everyone involved with this movie, and I still want it to tank hard so their copyright money-grab bites them on the ass.

  • NateMan

    FF comics always struck me as boring and a waste of potential. Mr. Fantastic is a prick, so good casting with Miles Teller there. I think this might be one of those cases where, if done right, the movie is actually better than the source material.

  • Cowtools

    That's a pretty superficial and glib dismissal of one of the most important superhero comics ever published.

    Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby laid the foundation for the entire Marvel universe. It started the ball rolling on the idea of superheroes with realistic emotional problems AND the notion of a team of mismatched heroes who form an ersatz extended family. Guardians Of The Galaxy wouldn't exist if it weren't for the F4.

    Not to mention that the book has had some amazing runs since then. In no way have they wasted their potential. Jonathan Hickman's F4 run that ended a few years ago was a bonafide EPIC; an outrageously complicated tale that took in multiple alien world, parallel universes AND time travel, and still managed to tell an touching and emotional story about the relationship between parents and children.

    Oh, and Mr Fantastic being a prick is what makes him such a great character to read about.

  • NateMan

    I've read most of them since the 90s, thanks to Marvel Unlimited. I just don't care for them. I have difficulty finding much resonance with any of the characters except Ben.

  • Cowtools

    Well, that doesn't mean that the elements that make that comic unique should all be ditched for the sake of viewers who don't like the comic.

    It'd be nice if one of the most significant, regardless of taste, superhero comics ever published got at least ONE reverential adaptation.

  • The Fantastic Four would work really well as a TV series. I've never thought it should be a movie, really. Just imagine something along the lines of Buffy or Firefly or Supernatural, but with four superheroes (their super friends) and cosmic villains instead of demons or an evil empire. I guess a movie could be made with the tone of Guardians of the Galaxy, which this cast could pull off, but I'm not expecting much.

  • NateMan

    That's a really good idea and I hadn't considered it. The family dynamics are what make FF as interesting as they are (which isn't saying much for me) and you're right that it'd work better in a show.

  • Zuffle

    I'm not sure this version is going to have any family dynamics, from what I've read. But then, I actually know as much as you, and certainly hope to be proven wrong. The Thing is one of Marvel's greatest characters, and I still think Chiklis was born to play the role, but both those films were nonsensical gash, and just as bad as the Roger Corman version.

  • It's a shame X-Men already did the retro 60s reboot thing. FF seems to scream for a light-hearted, edging twoard campy retro treatment.

  • Oh, yes, for sure. I was going to say they're very old fashioned, but I'm pretty sure the movie is going to try to move away from that angle and give them all quips. Though, I bet Bell's Thing will be similar to Groot and Drax -- a sensitive soul whose humorous because he's the only one not quipping.

    But I'd be very into a throwback movie with these characters. Something like First Class, the First Avenger, or the Rocketeer, but with an Incredibles dynamic, could be a lot of fun.

  • Jon Peters, while a producer not a director, didn't care about the source material either and his Superman movie never got off the ground. If there's a giant robot spider in the third act of FF then we'll know which way Trank leaned.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I'm guessing Trank isn't that opposed to the source material, he's just not doing a specific story. Which I don't really object to; a lot of superhero movies don't really do the specific story they appear to, they just hit the important plot points. The implication may be that reading the source material may not be helpful, not that it's useless, especially if the person asking isn't a fan of the medium (as Mara evidently is not).

  • Zuffle

    Jon Peters is a hairstylist with Hollywood money who wanted more Hollywood money, plain and simple.

  • But he goes his giant damn robot spider didn't he?

  • logan

    OR this is just the movie they are contractually obligated to make so as to not lose the rights to the characters.

  • mariya4563

    Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me. I started working for them online and in a short time after I've started averaging 15k a month... The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was some basic typing skills and internet access to start... This is where to start------------------------------bestjob.com..,.,..

  • Sam Underwood

    Winner, winner, winner. The fact this is shot "found-footage" to lower the budget, the fact there was NO publicity or comiccon presence when they finished wrapping the film 4 days after it ended, the fact we are less than a year away and not one image, teaser, trailer or anything has been released, and the fact that the rights were expiring next year if they did not release the film suggest this is a giant trainwreck.

  • Are we sure this was filmed found-footage style? I'm pretty sure the studio clarified that it would be more Paul Greengrass than Blair Witch.

  • Sam Underwood

    According to reports it was being shot hybrid 50% found-footage 50% shakycam

  • I have a feeling there will be things like "found footage" in security tapes during the cosmic ray accident, or when they first appear and are captured by every person with a smartphone and then uploaded to YouTube. At least, I hope that's all it is.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    That would seem more likely to me. But even if it were 100% found footage... I'd give Josh Trank the benefit of the doubt that it could still be awesome.

    As to lack of hype... I don't think, even when the first two were being pimped, people were actually all that genuinely excited. They may be holding back since they know FF4 isn't something moviegoers are clamoring to see that badly.

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