With all of the hubbub about the direction of [The Fantastic Four](movie:34667) movie, it seems that what the fans want are as diverse as the fans themselves. From the race switch of Johnny Storm to the threats of gender switching their main nemesis, Doctor Doom, to the comments about it not being about 'stretchy guy'; it seems clearer and clearer that it's possible that the director and script writers are struggling with who it is they are writing about. Now, while I have been very doubtful of Fox's ability to pull off this reboot without totally rewriting the age-old story and re-imagining each and every character, there is a blue print that, if they heed it, the movie will actually honor the Fantastic Four legend despite everything else.
1) First of all, the FANTASTIC FOUR is about FAMILY.
The one unifying factor of the team dynamics of the First Family of comics is, well, Family. It's why they stay together. It's the glue that makes all else work. Without this cohesion, there is no FANTASTIC FOUR. In fact, without their love for each other, there is no reason for them to even stay together.
It all starts with Johnny and Sue storm who are the only two who are family by blood. Their bond was forged by a tragic childhood. Their father, Franklin Storm, was a doctor. After an accident, their mother, Mary, was injured and their father insisted on operating on her. After he was unable to save her, he sang into the depths of drinking and gambling finally finding himself charged with the death of a loan shark. This left the two kids by themselves. They only had each other. This was the first dynamic of the team.
( If the writing staff goes with the ULTIMATE version, their father would play a leadership role with them early on and Sue will have a scientific background while also asserting her leadership at times. I'm not sure the writers of the ULTIMATE series truly understand how important the family aspect is.)
No matter what version they go with, the writers will succeed if they remember to showcase the dynamic of the siblings and the bond they share and the tension these new powers put them under.
Then came Ben Grimm and Reed Richards. While not kin by blood, they were lifelong friends who had met up in college or high school. 'Brothers from another mother' as it was. Their bond was a strong one. They were inseparable. Ben was also a pilot which led to him being chose to fly the rocket that put them in the way of the gamma radiation that changed their lives. Now, the origin story was changed in ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR. Their powers were now linked to a teleportation experiment gone wrong involving something called the N-Zone which I will touch on later. ULTIMATE also makes Reed and Ben rivals for Sues affection.
The writers would succeed here if they remember that no matter what Reed and Ben will never turn on the other totally.
Next comes the marriage and or relationship of Sue and Reed. No matter what version they go with this is the central dynamic. The fact that no matter who competes for her affection, she is always Reeds and he is hers. Their love will cement the team. I really hope they don't go down the ULTIMATE road of Sue proposing to Ben and turning Reed into a villain. I think this cuts out the core of what makes this team tick.
The writers need to keep Reed and Sue's love the bond of the team no matter what.
The X-factor, if you will, is how they deal with all of these relationships while coping with the fact that they have acquired super human abilities overnight and their decision to not wear masks or keep secret identities, thus becoming public and, even, celebrity icons.
2) The FANTASTIC FOUR is about scientific exploration and discovery!
The other element of this comic series was it's unending quest to know the unknown. It's what led to most of their adventures and drove them to most of their greatest discoveries about themselves. It is also what put them in this situation in the first place. No matter the origin, it is their curiosity in the face of the vastness of unknown territory that will cause them to step over the line and change each of them possibly irrevocably.
In the first movies, we saw Reed's guilt as to the condition of his friend, Ben. All the others had control of their powers and, although they had to deal with being freakishly different, they could meld into the public forum without incident. Ben had no control of his powers and dealt with being a monster that didn't fit in anywhere; although part of the story is the acceptance of the people of New York for the big lug. This is a toss up. Not necessary, but lots of drama to be had.
THE NEGATIVE ZONE- The first place I believe this new FF will explore is that strange otherly universe known as the NEGATIVE ZONE or N-ZONE. What they found on the other side was a whole new universe to explore that, of course, could not be overlooked or passed up. There are armies of enemies waiting for them also led by the fierce BLASTARR and the nihilist Lord of the dark expanse, Anihilus. If they want to make an impact, THIS villain and his domain should be their first adventure.
SPACE- Of course, there is always our own vast universe to explore. And sometimes, those wonders from around the cosmos come to visit. We already saw the Silver Surfer and that botch-job on Galactus. But there are so many other possibilities. The shape-shifting Skrulls were the first alien race the FF encountered and a 'SECRET INVASION' would be a great story. Although I doubt we start there.
TIME- Another territory the FF travel a lot is time. In the mainstream story-line, Franklin Storm became a time traveler. It was also thought that he was the ancestor of the time spanning KANG THE CONQUEROR. This too would be a great story and a great way to segue the FF into a much wanted crossover with the other Fox property, the XMEN. Once again, this would be great. But I don't see it happening too soon. Maybe in a sequel.
EARTH'S SEA- An absolutely limitless place to explore is Earth's own sea. This would, of course, bring them into conflict with the hidden Atlantean race and their Prince Namor, one of Marvel's first mutants (Another Xmen tie). Once again, lots of drama to be had, but I don't see them plunging (forgive the pun) into this one anytime soon.
UNDERGROUND- One of the first enemies they faced and one that becomes prominent in the ULTIMATE story-line is the MOLEMAN. His connections with underground exploration would be interesting, but I don't see them making it all that important too soon.
3) The FINAL and NECESSARY element in an FF movie is the antagonistic relationship of Reed Richards and Dr. Victor Von Doom.
Here's where I hope they stick to the original story. The ULTIMATE Doom is what killed the movie Doom (Well, that, bad designs on his costume and terrible scripting on his part). Making him a part of the experiment that gave the FF their powers was quite ingenious, but making some mutated freak was a bit too much. There's much too much to deal with already concerning Doom. The fact that he has a background in the arcane arts is one thing that could give some depth to this character. His facial scarring, as well as his ego and psyche being scarred, should be the only changes he receives from the disastrous teleportation accident that totally SHOULD be his fault. Although he will never admit to that and would blame Reed for his face and his shame at failing so badly.
His powers should come from his intellect. Any basis of conflict between Reed and Doom should be science vs science. And, if they don't muddy the waters with unnecessary social engineering, they could build quite an antagonist in Victor Von Doom alone. In fact, I would suggest they combine the Negative Zone disaster, Doom's transformation and an invasion from the other side led by Annihilus. Get all of that right and you have a winner.
(I actually wish them luck. I know, they will need it.)