** Let me start out by saying this article contains my opinions on what are likely some hot button topics. They may be good, they may be bad. Some of you may agree with them, some of you may not and that's fine. This is simply how I feel and nothing is going to change that. So if you have comments to make, please make them constructive and/or relevant. There is a 0.0001% chance than any argument you have against my opinion is going to change my mind; I am too old and set in my ways. :P I am not going to get in to a flame war about why you are right and I am wrong. I don't pretend to know everything, heck not even one eighth of everything, this, as I said, is just my thoughts dribbled out through a keyboard. If you don't like it, don't read it, or better yet, write your own essay with your own opinion, then send me the link so I can read it. Ok, now that I have gotten than little disclaimer out of the way, let's continue...
As more rumors circulate about the new Fantastic Four reboot (none of them good) I am forced to look back at what Fox has done with some of our beloved characters and storylines over the years and ask the question, Does Fox Hate Geeks or are they just so out of touch they don’t realize what they are doing?
Now before we start the whole argument about change is good, things need to be updated etc, let me just stop you right there and say I agree… to a point. There are certain changes you can make that bring things in to the 21st century. There are certain characters or events that you can change in ways that do not necessarily impact the story or deviate so far from the original as to be unrecognizable. Or better yet, just create an entirely new storyline and be creative until your heart is content. Herein lies the problem. Fox, it seems, looks for the most iconic, recognizable and best-selling characters and storylines in the Marvel Universe and then says “Let’s completely change that!”
If you are like me, at the end of X-Men 2, you saw the outline of the Phoenix through the waters of Alkali Lake and you had a geek-gasm as you thought “OMG are they going to do the Dark Phoenix Saga? The greatest X-Men storyline of all time with the Phoenix Force and everything!!!” And then, we got X-Men: Last Stand. The Phoenix was transformed from a Cosmic Entity into a Multiple Personality. The beginning of the movie teased at the “Fastball Special” – a signature move where (usually) Colossus throws Wolverine claws-first at an enemy; the move which in the comics took out the Dark Phoenix/Jean Grey – only to completely ignore it in the final scene and just have Wolverine walk slowly forward as Jean stripped away his flesh one layer at a time. The closest thing we got to anything even resembling the Phoenix Force was a little bit of fire around Jean. What happened to the firebird from the 2nd movie/comics? As someone who counts Dark Phoenix among his favorite Marvel characters, this entire movie was a travesty to me. I was left wondering, “What the hell were they thinking? Why build up to one of the greatest X-Men moments ever only to use it to wipe like a wad of toilet paper?”
The year before that came the first Fantastic Four movie. The casting, in my opinion, was great and the movie was set to include my all-time favorite villain of the Marvel Universe, Victor von Doom (aka Doctor Doom). I even really liked the casting of Julian McMahon as Doom. I eagerly bought my ticket and prepared to geek out, then my heart sunk lower and lower with each passing moment. Doctor Doom, scientist and sorcerer, ruler of Latveria, one of the most brilliant and powerful villains on Earth was reduced to someone with metal skin who can shoot electricity from his hands?!? WTF!? They tried to “fix” this in the 2nd movie by having the Silver Surfer hit Doom with the Power Cosmic, reversing the mutation that had occurred in the first film and tried to bring back the scientist Doom but it was too little too late. And then there was Galactus. A cloud? Really? Galactus, the world devourer is a freaking killer cloud?!? Now, apparently if you look really close you can see his helmet during one of the final scenes and it has been said they were going to fully introduce him in a Silver Surfer movie that never happened, but come on?
How about Firefly? Everyone likes Firefly right? Despite Fox burying it in a Friday night time slot and airing the episodes out of order, causing confusion and ticking off the producers, it still had a fan base. So what’s Fox to do? Cancel it. Oh, they claim the numbers were not there – that no one was watching it. Ok, maybe, but with all the backlash that came after it was cancelled no one thought “Well maybe we should bring this back?” (ala Family Guy). Nope.
Wolverine: Origins, I didn't entirely hate, but once again we have a character that is very well known and loved by fandom, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool. Was Ryan Reynolds the right choice for the role? I think he could have been if the writing had not completely ruined the character. Why did we need to give him Cyclops’ eye beams and swords that come out of his hands? He has enough going on with his teleporting and healing factor. And then they sewed his mouth shut? Have you READ a comic Fox? He is called “The Merc With the Mouth”. And what about a new Deadpool movie? That has been in talks for ages. The writers, directors, actors, everyone is on board for it except.. yep, Fox. Fox wants a PG13 version of the movie. Newsflash, Deadpool is not PG13. In fact, if your young kids are reading Deadpool comics you might want to put a stop to that. He is not for kids. The movie should not be for kids. Oh sure, you could do it – the Deadpool episodes of Ultimate Spider-man was amusing, but a watered down Deadpool is not going to sell tickets and all it succeeds in doing is further alienating the fans.
Which brings us back to the current rumors/casting surrounding the new Fantastic Four. If talk is to be believed, Fox has chosen to go with the “Ultimate” version of the FF as opposed to the more iconic version of the team. This means they will all be 20-somethings. At this point you have already almost lost me on wanting to see the movie, but wait, there’s more! First, let’s change the race of one of the main characters. On the one hand, it has been done before; Kingpin, Heimdall, Nick Fury (though the latter was retconed in the comics well before the movie) and no one (including myself) had any issue with it. The problem comes when you take a character who not only has been around for 50 years, but is one of the most well-known characters in comic fandom and just decide to change him up. Why? To be politically correct? To get more viewers in a different demographic? Or simply to say “Eff You comic book fans, we can do what we want!”
Now comes the worst part (for me at least, since as I have said Doctor Doom is one of my favorite characters of all time); the new rumors that they plan to make Doctor Doom female? Why? It has been mentioned that there are not many great female villains or characters in Marvel. I don’t find this to be true. Sure they are not as well known, but you can find them if you look. Doctor Doom – again, one of the most iconic and well-known characters in the entire Marvel Universe – is who he is. You don’t change that just because someone in a marketing panel thought maybe it would get more viewer-ship. Now, as I said, this is a rumor and may turn out to be entirely false. I can hope. All things considered, it seems like they are trying to make the FF into "Twilight and bring in a younger, female viewer-ship instead of the people who actually want to see this movie made (you know the ones who helped the Avengers movie make half a billion dollars?) If you want to Cosplay a female Victoria von Doom, more power to you, but I’m not going to pay to watch it in a movie. Should we reboot Star Wars and have Padmé Amidala become Darth Vader instead of Anakin Skywalker? Why stop with fantasy? How about a reboot of the Abraham Lincoln story where Lincoln was a Native American Woman? Again, I am not against female characters, I am quite fond of them and include some of them amongst my favorites, but change for the sake of change is stupid. Should Marvel/DC create more characters of color and gender, by all means, and they have recently, but can we leave the established characters alone?
So why all the changes to things that have been so clearly established? Why constantly thumb your noses up at the comic book/scifi geeks who have made the series popular when it comes to making the movies. Is Fox truly trying to be progressive and creative and just doesn't realize that to the Geek Community, the stories are history? No, I am not saying we think it all really happened, but to make sweeping changes to established and beloved characters isn't going to do anything but upset people. Not all people for sure. There will be come who welcome the change, who don’t really get why all the fuss but try to put it in to a perspective you can understand? Who is your favorite band? Favorite character in a book or TV show? Favorite historical figure? Now what if you found out they were going to make a movie about that person and change them somehow; make them the opposite gender or change the character’s race or origin? Would you just be ok with it? A Rolling Stones movie with Minnie Jagger? Arya Stark gender swapped to be Aaron Stark in Game of Thrones?
With all the changes, inconsistencies and failures I just can’t help wondering if they are doing it on purpose. Does Fox secretly hate Geeks and is just doing this to troll the community on a massive scale? Did the Fox execs get bullied by geeks in high school? I just can’t fathom how people sat in a room, talked about all of this and honestly thought “That’s a great idea!” But then, I don’t understand how Survivor* is still on the air.
(* Edit: It has been pointed out to me that Fox has nothing to do with Survivor. This does not however change the fact that I don't understand the fascination with that show :P It just means I can't blame Fox for it.)