Fantastic Four: Fox Fails Miserably with Marvel Superhero Reboot
If Hollywood was to be defined by its trends, then the next few years belong to the world of comic book heroes. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe already established and welcoming more and more superheroes into the fold, DC is about to jump into the deep-end with its own universe and the X-Men franchise is arguably as strong as ever. Marvel’s Fantastic Four – a franchise owned not by Marvel Studios, but by 20th Century Fox – haven’t been so lucky.
After two forgettable attempts at bringing Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing to life on the big screen – and an exhilarating appearance by the Silver Surfer – the franchise has been rebooted with a production that seemed doomed from the very start.
The film re-explores how the Fantastic Four came to be, with its characters made considerably younger than we’ve seen them before; a motiveless scientific experiment opens a ‘Quantum Gate’ to a parallel universe named Planet Zero, which our heroes-to-be recklessly investigate and subsequently suffer severe consequences from. An ensuing botched return home leaves one of the scientific team stuck in Planet Zero, while an explosion in the Quantum Gate gives Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm their powers. The man left behind goes on to become a figure that is historically the Fantastic Four’s deadliest foe, Doctor Doom.
Despite its solid cast of Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell – a collection of some of the best young actors around – the film is so underwhelming, that it makes the previous Fantastic Four films look like works of art. There are glimmers of a solid, modernised adaptation of a loved comic, but the execution of that vision has been tainted from the start and there are basic elements in the film that demonstrate little understanding of what made the foursome one of Marvel’s most popular characters.
Firstly, by making the main characters teenagers, the film eliminates much of the dynamic within the group – Reed, for example, has yet to become the brilliant scientist we know him as and because he and Sue are not yet an item, the familial set-up that gave the group heart isn’t there – and it’s a huge problem. A problem that is only further confounded by the fact that, as teenagers, there is no logical reasoning behind their motivations – no reason is given as to why these teens want to build a Quantum Gate.
Throw in some of the worst plotting and pacing to ever taint the silver screen and a strangely gloomy and sombre tone and you have, well, not very much. And we haven’t even talked about the infighting, the re-shoots and the fact that this film was rushed and released as soon as possible in order for Fox to keep the franchise from returning to Marvel. Sigh.