Start Lowering Your Expectations For "FANTASTIC FOUR"


The whole “Marvel Studios doesn’t own it’s entire universe” thing gets a lot of ink and makes for fun, juicy stories about Disney and Fox deliberately trying to fuck eachother’s Marvel projects over (which, however childish, is apparently quite a real thing); but as a fan and a general moviegoer it honestly doesn’t bother me that much. I’m not 13 and this isn’t 1996 so I have no desperate “OH MAN I WANNA SEE WOLVERINE FUCK ______ UP!!!” need in my life, which would be the only vaugely compelling reason to not let the X-Men just be their own pocket-universe cinematically – hell, in the comics the fun detail of Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch being Magneto’s kids has surprising little regular effect on their lives as Avengers. Even if the current Spider-Man movies weren’t awful, I’d be okay with him being off on his own because he and The Avengers generally run in different circles (or they did before Marvel decided he should be an Avenger, which is dumb even if there have been some decent Avengers stories since) and don’t interact all that often.
The Fantastic Four, on the other hand? Their absence from the Cinematic Universe feels like a genuine missing piece.
See, Marvel heroes have always had “cliques.” Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, etc; those are the “renegade” heroes – the good guys with a problematic relationship with the public/police/etc. The X-Men and other mutants have the more extreme persecuted-minority version of that. The Avengers and The Fantastic Four are, jointly, The Establishment. They’re the “accepted” heroes. They go to the same parties, know the same people, attend eachothers weddings/funerals, all of that. If The Avengers have a tool or piece of technology not built by Tony Stark, it was built by Reed Richards. The public loves them, the government/military/cops respect and work with them, they do magazine shoots and TV appearances… that’s basically why other heroes want to become Avengers in the first place: it’s THE mark of legitimacy in their business.

They “fit together,” is what I’m saying, which is why I’m not really all that thrilled that Fox is still going ahead with the “FANTASTIC FOUR” reboot. Yes, I like that they got “CHRONICLE’s” Josh Trank to direct, and I actually really like the early-announced (so that they could get everybody’s bellyaching out of the way) casting of Michael B. Jordan for Human Torch. But as of today, we have a full cast announcement from Variety and… egh.

So. Michael B. Jordan, as announced, is Johnny Storm/Human Torch. Miles Teller is Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Kate Mara is Sue Storm/Invisible Woman and Jamie Bell is Ben Grimm/The Thing.

Let’s get this out of the way: I have zero problem with Johnny being black. In fact, since Kata Mara is white, that probably means one of them is adopted which is potentially an interesting angle. I also don’t think it’s a huge problem that Ben Grimm is being played by a skinny young British kid and not a stocky, surly, Jewish (look it up) Noo Yawk’a – The Thing will almost-certainly be a mocap/CGI creation, so it doesn’t really matter what Bell really looks like.

No, what bugs me about Bell’s casting is what bugs me about the entire cast excluding (mostly) Jordan: They’re all too young. I know that’s an eye-roll thing, usually, when it comes to this material: Some adult fanboys will never accept that Superman can’t look exactly like a father-figure to them anymore because they’re father-aged themselves now. I don’t necessarily “need” Reed Richards to look like a 50s sitcom dad. What I do need (or, rather, think is important) is that he look like an adult – because that’s the core dynamic of this thing: The FF are a family, Reed and Sue are the parents, Johnny and Ben are the kids even though Ben is technically the oldest and Johnny is Sue’s younger brother.

At the very least, Reed should look/feel old enough to have become a world-renowned professional scientist. A grown-up. And Miles Teller (who may or may not be a good actor) looks like he’s maybe 13. Jamie Bell looks – at least when he’s not clean-shaven – like a 19 year-old who kind of has a tough job, like landscaping or something. Kate Mara… is a step up from Jessica Alba, at least, but both of them are too young. One of the main thing that makes this group interesting is that, apart from the powers, 3/4s of them don’t “feel” like conventional heroes – they’re squares. Grownups. Mom n’ Dad types. This makes it just one more Sexy Teenagers Action Movie (in the same way that “STAR TREK” now looks like a bunch of clerks from American Apparel walked over to hang out in the Apple Store), and we’ve got more than enough of that as it is.

At least, that was my initial objection. Then I read further down in the piece and things all fell into place:

“Based on the comic “The Ultimate Fantastic Four,”

Ah. Well, then, now it all makes sense. In “Ultimate Fantastic Four” they were, in fact, a team of college-aged kids (Reed and Sue are both “child prodigies”) working for Sue Storm’s father with a completely different, less interesting origin story and personalities. That’s one noteworthy thing about “Ultimate Fantastic Four.” The other noteworthy thing is that it was god-fucking-awful. Dogshit. Bad even for an “Ultimate” series – and that’s pretty damn bad.

Blegh. What a (exceedingly likely) waste of talent, effort, material and money. If anyone needs me, I’ll be watching THIS on a continuous loop for awhile.

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