Warning: There are possible spoilers in this article for the Fantastic Four reboot that starts Aug. 7 in theaters.
Okay, apparently I'm late to the party in getting this, but maybe I'm not alone and hence I will share a bit of self-education on the subject:
The reason the The Fantastic Four is getting changed up significantly in the FF reboot that will open in theaters next Friday is that it's based on the "Ultimate Fantastic Four" comic book series. Looking back now on articles even from 2014 I see that this was known. So there's no news here. I discovered this fact this morning when I saw a news feed article "Simon Kinberg – Fantastic Four" in which Lisa Carroll of moviehole.net interviews Fantastic Four (2015) writer Simon Kinberg. Says Kinberg:
The most challenging thing is the tone, getting the tone right — we wanted to do something different than the last two movies to make it more dramatic and grounded. We approached the film from the characters’ perspective first, rather than a spectacle. It’s difficult, but it always makes the movie and characters more relatable. We did a lot of research too. I like a lot of the Ultimate comic book series, the “Fantastic Four” film is based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four series...
I love these characters and comics as much as they [the fans] do, I’m writing it for the fan in me and for them. I think the fans will like “Fantastic Four” and will like what we are attempting to do with it, making it more grounded and emotional.
Maybe for whatever reason, like me, others of you were unaware of this source material. I'll be honest that while I bought and devoured a huge trove of comic books as a kid from the mid 60's to early 70s, I haven't kept up up with the development of the superhero world through comics since then--I just watch the action films. I'm an ardent fan of cinema in general, and my love of the superhero film is practically boundless. But I'm still getting up to speed with the canon developments from the comic book side since I was a boy. Thank goodness for Wikipedia!
The Ultimate Fantastic Four is younger than the 1961 origin story, all around 21 years of age:
Per Wikipedia, Mark Millar, one of the two co-writers of the Ultimate Fantastic Four, explained the rewriting of the classic FF origin:
Millar completely rewrote the origin for the protagonists because he was not satisfied with the original 1961 story, in which the four team members steal a space craft to beat the Soviets to the moon. He said: "Four guys hijacking a space-rocket trying to reach the moon to beat the communists was not going to fly."
So the "Ultimate Fantastic Four" uses the teleporter malfunction story-line, as we see in the film's trailers.
In the Ultimate Fantastic Four version Sue and Johnny's father, Dr. Storm is leader of the scientific project/mission with the teleportation device. So the film follows that.
Dr. Storm and Johnny are of course rewritten for the film as African American.
And whereas in the original 1961 origin story Sue Storm was often depicted as helpless and in need of rescue, in the Ultimate Fantastic Four a confident Sue usually assumes the role the team leader, rather than Reed.
But the changes made to Dr. Doom are perhaps the greatest. He is renamed Victor von Damme. Victor is a member of Dr. Storm's research team. He's a descendant of real world history's Vlad Tepes, aka Dracula, who was ruler of Wallachia, a real region of Romania of that name during the fifteenth century. Vlad the Impaler's father was Vlad II Dracul, and he was a member of the Christian Order of the Dragon during the Ottoman Empire's attempted conquest of the Balkans. Presumably in the film's world the Order of the Dragon (or whatever it will be called in the film) will secretly be an evil vampiric organization. Victor is apparently active with this heritage as a member of a secret aristocratic order that seeks world domination. In the Ultimate Fantastic Four Victor von Damme does (after his transformation) somehow become leader of the fictional eastern European nation of Latveria, which under his leadership blossoms economically to become the ninth wealthiest nation in Europe. And Latverian citizens proudly wear the dragon symbol.
In the film the Ultimate Fantastic Four's Victor von Damme will be named Victor Domashev, and as full villain he will reportedly be renamed simply as "Doom." So it looks as though Doom will draw his occult powers from the vampire mythos, and as such will have a relation to the undead. The teleportation technology to parallel universes will probably figure prominently into this. In the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series, Victor's physical body is mutated via the teleporter into a mostly metal construction, with internal organs that are toxic to regular humans--and he gets cloven hooves!
I think this Dr. Doom could be a lot of fun. The Order of the Dragon is potentially very rich material to work with. The occult tie-in to the dark magic of vampires could be very interesting if worked with creatively.
It doesn't look from a green screen shot that the film will be going with the cloven hooves, though (unless they CGI that in):
Anyway, the revision of the classic Fantastic Four story from 1961 now makes sense, in that the Fantastic Four (2015) reboot film is based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series. How closely it follows that comic book series of course remains to be seen. One departure that is obvious is that the Storm family is different racially, with perhaps one or both of the children having apparently been adopted (? or perhaps as sometimes happens, although rarely, they're born with dominant genes for their respective Caucasian and African American physical traits). We'll just have to wait and see what other changes to the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book mythos will be made in the film.
Fortunately that wait won't be long now!
So based on all this, are you down with this particular retelling of the Fantastic Four?