There has been a lot of discussion about the upcoming reboot of the Fantastic Four movie. There are very few public backers of the film beyond those who have worked on it first-hand. Much of the debate is centered on the radical reinterpretation of the characters from its original comic book origins from the 1960's.
The larger issue is that the marketing geniuses over at Fox continue to shoot themselves in the foot, by not releasing anything to calm fan's fears. While their X-Men franchise has complex marketing campaigns that include viral campaigns, with concept art and backstory to keep fan's nerves calm. Way before we knew that Days of Future Past would be a winning film, they released "blueprints" of the Sentinel designs that kept fans wondering about the possibilities in the movie. There hasn't been a kernel thrown for fans to chew on for Fantastic Four. So most have taken the silence and filled the void with their own theories.
Well FOX has leaked, not announced, the official story synopsis for the Fantastic Four:
THE FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel's original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
A bunch of info can be gathered about the direction that they are taking in the upcoming movie. A "contemporary re-imagining" immediately brings to mind the more recent adaptation of the superhero family in Marvel Comics' Ultimate Fantastic Four. The comic was created by Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spiderman), Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Marvel's Civil War) and Adam Kubert.
Millar changed the origin from the original, where they steal a rocketship headed to the moon and get hit with cosmic rays in space. He brought the origin down to Earth a bit and made it a little more plausible. In the Ultimate origin, Reed Richards is a child prodigy with a protective best friend named Ben Grimm. He is enrolled in Baxter Institute, an academy for geniuses, where he meets his future nemesis Victor Von Doom and the other members of the quartet. Reed is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough and creates technology which can teleport matter to the N-Zone. Disaster strikes and they all get teleported, which alters them in fantastic and horrific ways. These young adults eventually become the Fantastic Four.
It seems reasonable to assume that screenwriter Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of the Future Past, Star Wars Rebels) has adapted much of this storyline from this modernized retelling. Kinberg is not a hack and has been carrying the torch for fandom recently by writing both X-Men: Days of Future Past and Star Wars Rebels to critical acclaim. Unless there is an unbearable amount of studio interference, there will be depth to the movie in ways people may not be expecting.
Much of the fan outcry is in reaction to changes that Marvel has been making to the franchise for over ten years. Fantastic Four is credited as the property that saved Marvel Comics in the 1960's and unlike other comic properties, it always seemed to be a product of its time. The comic had two underlying themes that it constantly orbited around. It was about the very human struggle of an extraordinary family and it spoke to the 1960's fascination with space travel and exploration. Interstellar spoke to the notion that the exploration of the stars has moved to the backburner since we landed on the moon. If you consider the science-fiction that is most popular today, it's usually about finding ways to look within yourself to become stronger. To become superheroes. That is a sign of the times, that you can see all over both TV and the movies.
Recently, Terry Notary talked about his experience coaching actor Jamie Bell (The Adventures of Tin-Tin) who is playing Ben Grimm aka the Thing, on how to approach the character in the upcoming movie. Notary is a Movement Choreographer who has brought to life many characters, via motion-capture, that you would recognize. He played the Goblin King in The Hobbit and was Rocket in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He also is one of Hollywood's leading consultants in motion-capture performances. Here is what he had to say to Movies.com about his experience working on the Thing's character with Bell.
I was talking to Jamie about it and thought it was just a whiteface character. Everything is pulled out through the soul. There's very, very little expression in the face, if any at all, so everything has to live through the soul and the eyes. Everything. The subtleties of the physicality when standing there...you're a rock. You're made of rock, so you can't be super subtle but you can be if you sense that emotion coming out through the soul and the eyes.
We had him just holding this neutral expression and just pouring the soul out of his eyes while walking through this space, while obviously being grounded with weight and mass and gravitas that's so important and does take a lot of work. It's not something that comes easy. You have to create this sense of thick space and you're carrying yourself with different parts of your body depending on the emotion of the character and the development of the character.
I mean, he's a kid trapped in a rock, and so how does that kid become a man after that experience? Through that evolution and that journey he moves from this sort of worried place to his pack that carries him through. It's figuring that stuff out and Jamie is just such a super talented actor. He's so physical and great with his body. He can really articulate emotions through his body well.
Every actor from Michael B. Jordan to Tim Blake Nelson has emphasized that this is a character drama set in the world of the fantastic. It is rarely the wrong approach to base a film around real human emotions, while letting the spectacle highlight the action. Notary also touches on the most important part of what most are missing about the rebooted franchise. He mentions Grimm's journey to becoming a man. That is a reminder that this is a true origin story. Colorblind casting aside, they still have the opportunity to grow into the heroes that many are familiar with. However it is more likely that they will far surpass what our expectations of what the Fantastic Four is.
The Fantastic Four hits theaters August 7th, 2015.
Source: Point of Geeks Art by: Graphik.deviantart.com