It's an uphill battle for the new Fantastic Four movie. Not only has the movie been dogged during its production with unflattering behind the scenes photos, allegations about reshoots and questionable complaints about casting - the new 2015 Fantastic Four movie also has the job of trying to escape from the dark shadow that the 2005 Fantastic Four movie and it's even deadlier sequel cast on these characters.
A Not So Fantastic Four History
The first trailer did hold some promise that Chronicle director Josh Trank and X-Men movie mastermind Simon Kinberg have at least come up with a new tone and vision for the Fantastic Four that immediately does a good job of erasing the candy-colored headache that was the previous iteration of Marvel's first family. While the Fantastic Four might require a delicate balance to strike the right tone, it makes sense to run in the opposite direction of what has come before.
If you want to see exactly how far the Fantastic Four have come, have a look at the 1994 Fantastic Four movie that reportedly was shot of the course of around 20 days in order for a production company to hold on to the movie rights to these characters. Just a fair warning - once you watch this, you can't unwatch it.
Yes, those truly were the dark days for comic book and superhero movies. Looking at the trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie in the light of what has come before, fans really should be happy with what they're seeing.
The Thing About Fantastic Four
The trickiest part about adapting Fantastic Four into a live action feature is the fact that these characters are some of the most comic-book oriented characters in Marvel's long list of superheroes. Which is to say that they don't make the jump from page to screen without a long list of hurdles to jump.
Sure, special effects have come a long way since the prosthetic arms of the guy in that 1994 movie - but there are still complications to overcome. Mr. Fantastic and The Thing are the kinds of characters that are much easier to draw on a page than they are to make come alive on the screen without running into the cartoony problems all the previous Fantastic Four movies have run into.
The new images that have been released of Jamie Bell's Ben Grimm aka The Thing, have given some hope that there are going to be marked improvements over the Michael Chiklis version that wobbled its way through the last two Fantastic Four movies. They'll at least be getting the height right, for one, and it looks like they'll also be giving the character a sense of the weight and pain that he carries with him.
We'll have to wait to see if Jamie Bell will be able to give the character the expressiveness and emotion that the character is able to radiate on the pages of the comic books but Bell has been saying the right things in interviews about his process of bringing The Thing to life. In an interview with AOL Build, he says that the his performance is being informed by the master of motion capture.
"Obviously I'm not made of rocks and obviously I'm not 6 foot 8. It's about capturing the essence of a human being inside of that character when he is transformed and you do that through motion capture. It's a technique that my friend Andy Serkis has very much spearheaded -- he is the guru of performance capture. I've been lucky to work with him three or four times actually, so I very much consider him my mentor."
That's definitely reassuring to hear. Ben Grimm is arguably the most interesting and heartbreaking character in the Fantastic Four and if the movie can find the humanity under the mass of rocks it will be well on its way to easily being the best Fantastic Four movie ever.
Fantastic Four: The Doom Generation
The other most troublesome character to try and get right on screen is Doctor Doom. If you mention the words "Doctor Doom, sorcerer and ruler of Latveria" - you can't help but think of how easily that can fly in a comic book but sound rather ridiculous in a movie making an attempt at seriousness. This was another huge misstep in the previous movies so I'm actually pretty glad to hear that the new Fantastic Four is taking some liberties with the character of Doctor Doom.
Headlines were made when the character of Victor von Doom got changed to Victor Domashev. And rather than making him some crazed dictator of a backwoods nation, the movie is taking some inspiration from the Ultimate Fantastic Four world and making Domashev a friend of the Fantastic Four who ends up getting badly injured in their experiment and turns into the evil Doom and seeks revenge against the team.
I'm really interested to see the final reveal of the new Doom. It sounds like rather than just giving the character a mask to wear - this Victor may have ended up having the metal fused with his body in the accident. It sounds like this Doom will have a much better motivation for clashing with the Fantastic Four than those last two movies at any rate.
What do you think? Can the new Fantastic Four movie win you over? Do the new images of The Thing ease your fears or worsen them? Discuss it in the comments below!