I’ll admit that I was one of the first Marvel movie fans to question 20th Century Fox’s reboot of Fantastic Four (which is now Fant4stic?) after I heard that the cast would be young, comprised of burgeoning actors, and the director had little more than found-footage film notched on his Arriflex.
Truth told, that wasn’t the thing that made me wince. It was that word - reimagine. Why do you gotta go reimagine the Fantastic Four? They are who they are. They don’t need reimagined.
Then a bunch of other comments came flooding in: “a celebration of all Fantastic Four comic books,” “ inspired by its history,” “more grounded,” “more emotional,” “heavily influenced by David Cronenberg.”
Oof. Not the Fantastic Four.
(Very briefly, because it remain a topic of conversation whenever this film is mentioned. The casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm was never a thing for me. It shouldn’t be a thing for you or for anyone. Just like the next iteration of the Ghostbusters features all women shouldn’t be a thing for you or anyone. If you don’t like the actor’s work, that’s a thing. If you don’t like his the color of his skin or her gender - well, you’ve got a whole lotta lookin’-at-yourself-from-the-inside-out to do, brother.)
So back to my reasons for oofing this reboot.
Fantastic Four, as a title, was always the beacon of hope in the Marvel Universe. The Four embody the spirit of scientific exploration and the quest for knowledge in its best forms. They are also a close-knit family, unlike X-Men and the Avengers - two groups known for their in-fighting, protesting and battles against discrimination.
From the way filmmakers presented their vision of this new film, it sounded like we were in for something like a gritty Watchmen version of Fantastic Four. Or worse - The Fantastic Hunger Games.
This was only compounded by a flood of rumors and spoilers. No costumes, only “containment suits.” All the talk of Victor Domashev (rather than Von Doom) and his hacker/programmer backstory (allegedly). And the concept of no cosmic rays, but rather a parallel dimension? Whhhhaaaaa….??
Where was the Fantasticar? And Mole Man? The really cool Kirby-esque technology and Reed’s graying temples? Where was the banter and the camaraderie and the positive family dynamic? All the things that make Fantastic Four, you know, Fantastic Four?
Then the trailer came out. And it looks …It looks like a cool Marvel movie. Not at all the dreary cover song we were told was coming our way.
Then someone mentioned the movie might be influenced strongly by Ultimate Fantastic Four.
So, I spent a day or two with my Marvel Unlimited subscription and started reading Brian Michael Bendis’s version of the FF. Which, you know, shares a lot of the imagery that we see in the trailer.
And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
Bendis’s version is … well, more ground and more emotional. In a way it’s a celebration of all Fantastic Four comic books, truly inspired by its history. It’s also modern and different. It’s characters a young men and women who bleed science. And its Doom is named Doom either, but is kind of an anti-social genius.
So, I’m on board. For now.
If it goes a little too Cronenberg, though... Let’s just say no one wants to see how Brundlefly eats.