Disclaimer: Daniel Smith is not a writer. He has been asked to write a few blogs, so that’s still happening. Also, he didn’t have much time over the weekend to finish up the article, but he set aside 10 minutes to watch UFC 190 and Ronda Rousey wrapped that shit up in 34 seconds, so he had 9.5 minutes to “write” the last paragraph. Also, he just managed to find some FFVII action figures from the late 1990s in his parent’s basement and informed us that he will be re-enacting chocobo races for the next 3 days.
The Fantastic Four. Marvel’s First family. Marvel’s answer to the Justice League. I mention that because, at the time, Marvel was using DC’s distribution channels to distribute their books. How brilliant was that? The FF also happen to be the subject of an upcoming Fox movie. It is worth noting that Fox has banned critics from posting reviews of the movie until the day of its release. This could mean lots of things, but typically when this kind of stuff happens it means the movie is not so great. I’m sure it won’t be Gigli or Anaconda bad though. Also, my grad school semester is over and I can breathe, so here is some comic back story on the Fantastic Four.
The Fantastic Four have an origin story similar to several other Marvel heroes: scientific accident. Long-story-short, Reed Richards designed this prototype spacecraft to rocket up into space. His funding gets pulled so he does the logical thing… he grabs Sue Storm (who had been smitten with Reed since she was 13), her little brother Johnny (a hot head who is about to turn into a literal hot head), and Ben Grimm (Reed’s college roommate who acts dumb but actually has multiple engineering degrees and is a test pilot). As a fellow with multiple PhDs, I wonder if it occurred to him that there was no way he would ever get any more funding for anything after pulling this stunt. Here is how the the conversation leading up to the launch probably went:
Reed: “Hey, I know only one of us is even qualified for the test flight, but let’s launch up into the unknown and just hope for the best.”
Ben: “Hey, I know that I’m the rocks-for-brains (Get it!?! Rocks!) test pilot, but it seems like the cosmic ray shielding here is a little light, and maybe we should be careful.”
Reed: “Nah, it’ll be fine. Johnny, you are riding shotgun with Ben because I’m gonna sit in the back with your big sister and ‘not make out with her.’ 3… 2… 1… blastoff.”
Turns out, Ben was right, and they all wound up with these “fantastic” powers. Johnny Storm can light himself on fire and fly. Keep in mind that he was 16 and still in high school. I mean, if you could do that when you were 16, you certainly would have not have gotten shoved into your locker so much. Ben winds up with a brutal case of cosmic acne that turns him into, what he feels, is a monster. Poor Ben thinks that he will die alone because he would break any woman he was with in half, and no, I don’t mean the way your girlfriend tells you that you are about to break her in half to prop up your confidence. (Come on, ladies, admit it.) I mean, The Thing would be responsible for the whole saw-the-beautiful-assistant-in-half trick (by “The Thing” I mean the Thing’s Thing). Also, he thinks that no woman would ever want to even look at him… if only there were some attractive blind woman out there with a thing for stone….
Reed winds up being able to stretch any part of his body. ANY part of his body. He calls himself Mr. Fantastic because, while he is brilliant enough to plan out a rocket ship at 19, get multiple PhDs, and become one of the most brilliant minds of the era, “Mr. Fantastic” was the best he could do. And lastly, Sue Storm, the girl. In the most recent movies (and probably the upcoming movie), she is shown as a science babe, the archetypical attractive girl who is brilliant in the lab. This really is not a myth.* She gains the power to turn invisible, so she takes up the moniker “The Invisible Girl.” Not woman… girl. You know those cool force fields that she can cook up? She couldn’t do any of that stuff at first. She was a grown-ass woman that was referred to as a girl, and her power was to disappear. Remember, this was in the early 1960s, so she was probably meant to disappear into the kitchen and bring the men-folk some sammiches while they fight….
Victor von Doom. Wow, can you make a more villainy sounding name? He was brilliant, vain, jealous, and obsessed with freeing his mother from Hell. Seriously, he wanted to find some way to rescue his dead mother from Hell. (What is even more surprising is that he pulled it off.) He got one little scratch on his face and was so mortified that he had a metal mask fashioned to cover it… only he put the mask on before it was done cooling. Congrats Vic, now your entire face is equally screwed up. He met Reed in college and decided that Reed would be his rival because Reed was his only intellectual peer. How unrealistic is that?!? Could you imagine if two brainiacs like Edison and Tesla just didn’t like each oth… moving on. He is the dictator of the fictional European country Latveria because making him a dictator ups the evil factor. He really is one of the most dangerous villains in the Marvel Universe. He is a genius, a master of magic, and the man can hold a grudge like no other. Doom hated Reed so much that he once trapped Franklin Richards (AKA, the cosmically charged offspring of Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic…. When she married him, she should have taken his name!) in Hell. For my money, Doom is in my Top 5 Marvel Bad Guys – up there with both Green Goblins, Thanos, and crazy Morph from the 1992 X-Men cartoon. Also, unrelated to FF, they launched an X-Men comic based on that cartoon. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?!?!!!!1!!.
For those counting, this is the FOURTH Fantastic Four movie. Most of you probably know about the 2 most recent movies, notable for being the first films to let Michael Chiklis be filmed without any makeup at all. But there was a movie made back in 1994. Yes, this actually happened:
This movie was made to keep the film rights and was never intended to be released. Stan Lee confirmed this in 2015 (or so sayeth Wikipedia). But here is the terrible thing: They didn’t tell the actors any of this. These actors thought that they were getting a big release. Like, they put some effort into acting and everything. What a dick move. If you have 90 minutes to spare, watch this thing. Honestly, I think it is better than Batman & Robin. Oh, one more thing, Bernd Eichinger (a producer on the 1994 trainwreck) would go on to work on the 2005 Fantastic Four (which, honestly, was not that great either). So, technically, this upcoming film will be Fantastic Four 4 (my favorite time signature).
What should we be expecting from this new movie? Well, I’m guessing that they are going to muck up the origin story. When Fantastic Four #1 came out, mankind was about seven months removed from Yuri Gagarin’s historic first manned trip to space. So, in the minds of the average person back then, aliens could have been on Mars aiming cosmic rays at our planet. But flying out into space for half an hour isn’t enough to give you superpowers anymore. Based on the trailers, I’m guessing that Reed developed some way to jump between dimensions and that is how they are going to get their powers and the audience is going to get confused. Also, Sue and Johnny are completely different colors. Some people will be confused, but here, read this. See, it’s possible. Lastly, there is no way Dr. Doom can be nearly as awesome in this movie as he is in the comics. Also, he could not possibly be as terrible as Doctor Doom from the 2005 Tim Story film. You read that right, Story is literally his last name and he could not write a good one.
I honestly have high expectations for this film. Fox knocked it out of the park with X-Men: Days of Future Past, so maybe they are figuring out how to do comic movies the right way. But, whenever you have high hopes, you open yourself up to the “Tara Reid Boob Job Trap.” (That is where you hear about something and you think it will be so awesome but then you see it and you can NEVER UNSEE IT.) The movie could be filled with cheesy one-liners, jokes about Johnny being a hothead, Ben being so “hard” on himself, or Reed stretching himself too thin. But remember, this is an FF movie so they are budgeted for no more than one “it’s clobberin’ time.” All that said, I think it will be a fun movie and my little brother is begging me to take him to see it. It will, however, be missing something. Have you guys ever read Amazing Spider-Man #1? Remember when Spidey tried to join the Fantastic Four because Aunt May was broke and he thought it was a paying gig. We will never get to see that storyline, or any of the cool Heroes Reborn level stuff or Namor showing up (whenever Namor sees Sue Storm he gets a “huge white whale” down in the deep) because Fox doesn’t share like Sony does and that is always going to hold Fox movies back that are not Deadpool because that is going to be so fucking amazing. Anyway, the movie should be the price of admission… I hope. I mean, Ant-Man was good, and this has twice as many House of Cards actors in it.
Up next: Dragon*Con 98: What I saw as a middle schooler.
*Check this out. She graduated from the same program as me at Georgia Tech. She probably had better grades than me. Also, she is a cheerleader for the Raiders. See, not a myth.