20th Century Fox's mission to wipe [The Fantastic Four](movie:34667) slate clean took a huge leap this weekend courtesy of everyone's favorite blue-eyed Thing finally making his appearance. The shot of a rocky looking Jamie Bell shuffling away from his stone-like cocoon was on show as before, but adding to that was plenty of glimpses of what could be the best take of Ben Grimm to date. With that in mind, it's time to compare a few Thing's we've seen in the past, and what this one could do in the future.
The Ultimate Hero
The most noticeable detail in Jamie Bell's rough and tough alter-ego besides him looking like a walking, talking cliff face, is the size of The Thing in comparison to what we've seen before. Any previous adaptation of Ben Grimm's monstrous alter-ego has been around the same size as the rest of the costumed crew - Trank's take on the other hand is a towering behemoth, which to many fans pleasure looks to be leaning more towards the source material, to a degree.
Though he might share the same backstory of being Reed's childhood friend, with a military background (check what looks like military threads at 2:19), Bell does differ slightly in looks from the Ultimate [Marvel](channel:932254)'s Ben Grimm. Depicted by Brian Michael Bendis as a big guy with a lot of weight to throw around, Bell will instead depend on his rough and tough personality when he crosses paths with Reed's 'lab coat' associates. Standing at 5' 7", he can still carry a fist-throwing attitude like the one he displayed in Snowpiercer and Jumper, but Trank and his comic book adapting cohorts look to have really just pulled straight from the page when Grimm changes into a 500lb gargoyle, which will make his personal struggle all the more heart wrenching.
The Curious Case of Ben Grimm
A recurring element to the Fantastic Four story is Ben's battle with his new form. Johnny is flying high as a living flame, Sue can vanish from sight, and Reed can stretch his own limitations. Ben has been given just as great a power, indestructible and completely unstoppable, but he's paid the biggest price for it. Stuck in a body that is no longer his own and wielding a force he can't simply switch off, this battle within himself will get a lot of focus in Trank's take, and may leave a few audience members to dry their eyes over the ordeal. Speaking to Fox, they explained just what journey the man was going to go through as the monster we know him as...
"Ben is such a tragic character, because he's the one most affected by the power obviously. There are a couple of scenes where its heartbreaking to see The Thing, watching a baseball game for example, looking longingly at the screen and seeing what he'll never become, and what dreams he'll never obtain. Jamie Bell does an incredible job of that."
It's really no surprise that Bell breathes life into the character, having already dabbled in CGI work before. Under the tutelage of revered cynthespian, Andy Serkis in The Adventures of Tintin, Bell has already masted the art of playing it straight when covered in dots. As a result, it gives more freedom than Michael Chiklis ever had in the 2001 adaptation, and will hopefully give more for his co-stars to work off as a result, specifically Miles Teller who plays Ben's best bud and leader of the group, Reed Richards.
Rock Solid Friendship
One thing that stuck out in the full trailer (as brief as it was) is the bromance that looks to be blooming between Miles' Reed and Bell's Ben Grimm, which will be tested following their unexpected transformation. Ben wants out as soon as he's in this rock-shaped prison, and Reed is trying everything he can to get him there. It's something that Millar touches on a lot in his first few issues, and will no doubt be used as a fairly strong template for the film itself. For the brainiac of the bunch, Reed sees this as a curse for both himself and the rest of his specially gifted friends, and Ben has had the worst of the bunch.
This grueling test for the two was something that was given attention in Tim Story's Fantastic Four adaptation, but didn't gel so well with the lighter tone of the film. That doesn't seem to be the case for Trank's darker vision as we see plenty of shots of Bell's fragile state hidden beneath his rubble cluster exterior, and Teller's pity on the friend he is struggling to help. As we all know (or assume) Grimm will eventually come to terms with his second skin, and meet his finest hour in what looks to be an explosive final act.
You Can't Stop This Thing!
Even if he stayed silent for the latest preview, it's clear that this take on The Thing is a man of action, considering some of the extreme scenarios he can (literally) drop into. Chiklis' rubbish suit didn't show the same potential, even with some of the set pieces in the 2005 version. What we see here is a Hulk-like hero who can be dropped, shot, and driven in to, all with impressive realism making this fantastic tale all the more believable. This Thing isn't a guy stuck in a spongy suit, he's a moving road block who lets the action come to him, working the same way as other familiar larger than life heroes.
Since the last failed effort to make the superhero family a success, we've had a not so jolly green giant, a selective speaking tree and a marshmallow-like robot. These are the mascots of Marvel's biggest teams, suggesting that Fox may well tap into the same sort of winning formula with the Thing, and may have finally got it right in the process. This could be something special and we really don't have that long to wait.
What do you think though? Is the new take on The Thing one you can get behind? Or are you still unsure if he and the rest of the team will be as fantastic as you hope? Sound off in the comments below.