Ok, so I’ll be really honest, I really want to hate this movie. I haven’t even seen it and I want to hate it. That’s never a healthy attitude to take so I’m doing my best to be objective.
If this was anything other than a Fantastic Four movie, I’d be pretty excited right about now. Josh Trank proved with Chronicle that he’s a competent storyteller. Michael B Jordan is a decent up and coming actor and Miles Teller could well be a mega star in five years’ time. Ok, so Jamie Bell hasn’t really had much chance to live up to his early potential but he’s a decent actor so I’m not filled with dread when I see his name. Kate O’Mara gives me pause however... She’s been around a while but has never really stood out. She’s wooden at best, outright boring at worst. Sure she’s in House of Cards but nobody says “He check out that Kate O’Mara show, she’s awesome” it’s good in spite of her, not because of her.
So, decent budget, decent director, decent cast. What’s the problem exactly? It’s freaking Fantastic Four, that’s the problem!!!!! Sure, the comic doesn’t really sell that well these days and in the marvel comics universe they’ve become increasingly irrelevant in favour of the X-Men and The Avengers. Even so, they’re the first family of comics and should be given the respect they’re due. The first hundred or so issues of the comic are the most sustained run of quality on any comic book series ever.
This movie could be a lot of things, exciting, visually impressive, and even well-acted. The one thing it most likely won’t be is Fantastic.
The movie clearly borrows heavily from the ‘Ultimate’ universe. For those of you not in the know, the Ultimate universe is an alternate universe (because, y’know, comics) which follows a reimagined marvel universe that establishes a different continuity to the mainstream MU that was established in the early 60’s. In this universe the FF are younger child prodigies as opposed to the established adults from the original comics. On the surface, using this as inspiration could be a good thing. There’s less continuity to be respectful to, the characters are updated therefore potentially more relevant to a modern audience. Truthfully, it’s an unnecessary choice. Marvel Studios in their ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ have taken aspects of Captain America and co. from all across their history and blended them together. They’ve managed to be respectful to the source material yet keep it fresh and engaging to cinema-goers unfamiliar with the characters. Fantastic Four should have followed this formula.
The FF are unique in their composition. The X-Men are a school, the Avengers a club, the FF are a family. If Josh Trank’s gamble pays off, it’ll be because they feel like a family from the beginning. If they have to go through the whole ‘bonding experience’ part of their journey, it’ll feel like a cheap Avengers knock-off.
Given the mixed critical reaction to Age of Ultron and Ant-Man and the scepticism of the fans to the upcoming Batman Vs Superman, the comic book movie bubble may not be quite ready to bust but it could be entering a phase where it’s not the money-spinner of a few years ago. If FF fails to be truly fantastic, it could be the moment fans look back on in a few years and say ‘yep, that’s where it began to lose its appeal.’ If that’s the legacy of what was once billed as the ‘Greatest Comic Book of all’ then I weep for my inner geek.
So, despite the many misgivings I have, I’m desperate for this movie to be good.
No, I want it to be Fantastic!