Category Archives: Fantastic Four

Why I won’t be seeing ‘Fantastic Four’

fantastic four thing no penis

Up until a few days ago, I was considering going to see “Fantastic Four.”

Of course, my interest in the movie was pretty modest compared to my borderline mania to see each movie released by Marvel Studios – the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course.

But I was considering going to see the new Josh Trank “FF” anyway because Fantastic Four – along with the Avengers – was my favorite comic book growing up.

I might have gone to see it despite my misgivings about Trank’s efforts to turn Marvel’s most swashbuckling, space-spanning, goofy, good-natured comic into a “grimdark” spectacle.

fantastic four 2015

But reading reviews of the movie turned me off, convincing me that the movie was not only a joyless experience but a throughly bungled one, too.

Trank himself trashed Fox and his own movie on Twitter the other day, saying that he had a good movie in the works before Fox took over and ruined it.

I don’t know who’s responsible for what is, by almost every account, a mess with awful characters, subpar story and effects and bizarre choices. I suspect maybe we’ll get a post-mortem sometime.

fantastic four 16

(And it’s funny that everyone thought the troubled production of “Ant-Man” was going to turn that movie into a disaster, huh?)

I just know that everything I’ve heard – from the botched storyline, the short shrift for Susan Storm – who doesn’t even go on the adventure, apparently, but gets her powers from an accident afterward – the penis-less Thing and the thoroughly screwed-up version of Doctor Doom – this is not a movie for FF fans from way back.

We’ve seen four movie versions now, not counting the best of them all, the unofficial version of a superhero family, Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles,” and I imagine Fox will still be cranking them out to keep its rights to the story.

And that’s a damn shame. Just think what Marvel Studios could do with FF.

fantastic four daredevil

Final thought:

The days of standalone superhero movies that are not part of a bigger universe are over. Sure, I thrilled at the end of “Iron Man” when Nick Fury showed up, talking about “the Avengers initiative.” It meant that if the movie succeeded, critically and financially, Marvel would cautiously build out its universe. The new “FF” movie couldn’t connect to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course, because it was made by Fox. But the claustrophobic nature of these narrow, self-contained worlds are done, done, done for me.

I want to see universe building, and, bizarrely enough, the most far-reaching, science-mad, adventuring characters of all, the Fantastic Four, won’t have a chance to build their universe until the rights are back in the hands of Marvel.

Advertisements

It’s sobberin’ time

fantastic four thing naked

And also, apparently, nakeder. And less penis-ier.

You know, Ben Grimm is a tragic character and all, but … damn, man.

In the “Fantastic Four” comics and movies, there’s usually been an attempt to give the characters a consistent look in their costumes. This was done even for Ben Grimm, who turned into the rocky Thing. Benjamin Grimm usually had trunks on – blue to match the costumes of the other members of the FF – and or sometimes had on a whole jumpsuit-type-thing.

In the new movie, which comes out in August, the Thing apparently doesn’t wear any kind of costume.

And he apparently doesn’t … have … a penis.

I was already pretty uncertain about what I thought about the movie.

Now this.

Other people have noted this online, but does the Thing in the movie not eat or drink? Does he have any means at all of eliminating waste?

Is Ben Grimm’s longtime girlfriend, Alicia Masters, in the movie?

Are they going to address all this in the storyline?

Okay, now I’m just depressed.

New ‘Fantastic Four’ trailer is out

thingfantasticfourtrailer

“Fantastic Four,” along with “The Avengers,” was my favorite comic book when I was a kid.

So I’d like to see Josh Trank’s movie, out this August, get it right.

I’m still just not sure.

The new trailer looks like they’re closer than I would have thought previously to getting Ben Grimm right.

And yes, apparently, they’re following the “Ultimates” version of the story, which means all the characters are younger. Edgier. In some cases, I think that works.

doomfantasticfourtrailer

But will they get Doom right? I’m not reassured by this look.

doctordoom

What’s so hard about a genius/madman in a suit of armor?

Here’s the new trailer.

Vision and The Thing

visionultronConsidering that both “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Fantastic Four” come out this summer, we’ve seen surprisingly little of two of the most important characters.

That changed last week when images of Vision from “Ultron” and Ben Grimm – The Thing – from “FF” were released.

That’s Paul Bettany as Vision above and, although the picture was almost certainly retouched for the Vision poster, he looks good.

thingfantasticfour

And there’s The Thing, which looks better in this picture than an earlier one but still isn’t quite right.

What’s missing?

thethingbrow

His brow, of course. That simple feature, as created by Jack Kirby, made The Thing’s face so much more expressive, so much more human.

Fantastic Four trailer … Hmmm

fantastic four trailer

So the teaser trailer for Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four” movie came out a few days ago and I’m not yet sure how I’m going to feel about the movie.

“Fantastic Four” was one of my favorite comics – along with “Avengers” – when I was a kid and I’ve so wanted a good movie version. And there’s been a few good points about each of the live-action “FFs” so far, believe it or not. The Doctor Doom character looked right in the low-budget, never-released Roger Cornman-produced movie from two decades ago. And the Human Torch (in the person of future Captain America Chris Evans) was perfect in the two 20th Century Fox movies from a few years ago.

But I long for a faithful (even if just in spirit) movie version of the comics, and I’m worried that Josh Trank’s version, due out Aug. 7 won’t be it.

The trailer looks like the movie put its money on the screen, but it’s so dark. I want the light-hearted but simultaneously urgent “FF,” with a real sense of adventure. The FF are scientists and adventurers, after all. They explore space and other dimensions and confront bizarre threats and do it with a wisecracking and sometimes caustic but heartfelt family dynamic.

Trank’s movie, based on the trailer, looks to follow the younger FF from the “Ultimates” line and, at least, has the look of the Thing right. Ben Grimm I’m not so sure.

We’ll see when the movie opens. In the meantime, here’s the teaser trailer.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ takes us out there

guardians infinity stone

A lot of people are saying “Guardians of the Galaxy” is this generation’s “Star Wars.” I’m not sure that’s the case, or that anything could be this generation’s “Star Wars.” Some people forget just what a game-changer “Star Wars” and, two years earlier, “Jaws,” were. Those two movies solidified summertime as a time for big-screen escapist fare and proved that people would pay to see it.

Others say that “Guardians” is this generation’s “The Last Starfighter” but I think that’s selling “Guardians” short. As fond as my memories of “Starfighter” are, I think “Guardians” is a better movie.

So what role does “Guardians” fill?

Roles, really.

First of all, it’s a really good summer movie. It’s good-natured and funny and full of action.

Secondly, it’s a sure-footed next milestone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although it only slyly references the quest for the Infinity Stones – the sources of power that will, almost certainly lead Thanos to Earth in the third “Avengers” movie, probably in 2018 – it keeps that subplot to the first three phases of Marvel movies in moviegoers’ minds.

Thirdly, it expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s how:

The comics published by Marvel in the past half-century-plus have covered a lot of territory, literally and figuratively speaking.

There’s the street-level superheroes, like Spider-Man and Daredevil, dealing with maniacal villains and street punks alike. The non-Marvel Cinematic Universe “Spider-Man” movies and Marvel’s upcoming Netflix series like “Daredevil” map out this world. (They’re the Marvel counterparts of Batman, for you DC lovers out there.)

There’s the global superheroes, like the Avengers, who have the power to face threats to the entire world. The non-MCU heroes like “Fantastic Four” also fall into this category, as does DC’s Superman and Justice League.

What “Guardians” does is give Marvel Studios a beachhead in the cosmic universe where the comic books have played for a half-century.

There’s always been some crossover among all these Marvel realms, such as when Galactus, devourer of worlds, shows up and is tackled by the FF. Cosmic threat comes to global heroes.
But quite often, the links between the cosmic and Earth-based heroes have been only tenuous. Captain Marvel or the Silver Surfer or Warlock show up and fight and eventually team up with the FF or the Avengers to face a menace like the Kree-Skrull War, but by the end of the story, things are back to a Marvel status quo and the Avengers are dealing with Earth-based villains like Doctor Doom.

“Guardians” plunges us headlong into that cosmic Marvel universe with only occasional looks back at Earth.

I won’t recap the plot I’m sure you’re familiar with by now or even go on and on with my thoughts about “Guardians.” Director James Gunn had made a fun, “Star Wars”-ian adventure pitting an unlikely band of heroes against evil forces. Along the way, the movie introduces, more smoothly than most would have thought possible, fantastic creatures like Rocket Racoon, a small but ferocious animal with a pitiable past and a love of big guns, and Groot, a walking, talking (well, a little) tree creature. Space raccoon and gentle plant-based giant you say? Sure, why not. It’s a testament to Gunn’s handling of the characters and plot of “Guardians” that what the characters are matter less than who they are.

If you remember, Thanos, Marvel’s go-to cosmic bad guy, showed up at the end of “The Avengers” to take credit for pitting an invading alien army against Earth and grin at the thought of courting death.

Thanos wants the Tesseract – the Cosmic Cube in the comics – that the Red Skull wielded in “Captain America” and Loki sought in “The Avengers.” Along with the Aether, the cosmic power from “Thor: The Dark World,” and other Infinity Stones, Thanos can make the Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon of unimaginable power. It’s a certainty that will be the major plot point of the third “Avengers” movie.

One of the most amusing things about “Guardians” is that much of the history and power of the Infinity Stones is laid out midway through the movie … but to the protagonists and antagonists of “Guardians,” who don’t even know as much as Captain America and Iron Man about the importance of the Stones but know a thing to keep away from bad guys when they see one.

So the collected Guardians, led by the effortlessly charming Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, take on Ronan, an upstart ally of Thanos, in an effort to keep a handle on their particular Infinity Stone and keep it away from Thanos.

It’s an effort that will continue for another four years before the contest for the Stones pits Avengers – and likely other allies – against Thanos in the third Avengers movie, which will likely act as capper to the first three phases of big-screen Marvel.

“Guardians” is so much fun, so funny, so charming, that it carries all the responsibility of furthering the over-arching plot of big-screen Marvel as if it were a feather. Despite its many accomplishments, that might be the movie’s handiest achievement.

By the way, I wanted to mention Marvel’s other comic-book universes, besides street-level, global and cosmic playgrounds, because the big-screen Marvel universe will no doubt incorporate them as well.

(I won’t get into a couple of lesser-known Marvel comic book universes here because, frankly, I don’t think we’ll see big-screen versions of Marvel’s romance and western comic worlds anytime soon.)

We’re all but certain to see Marvel’s mystical and horror universes come into play in movies before long, perhaps in a combined venture.

The studio has already named a director for its “Dr. Strange” movie, about a physician who became a master of the mystic arts and fought supernatural creatures. It’ll be interesting to see who the studio picks to play the part because Strange could be as much of an anchor for ongoing Marvel movies as Robert Downey Jr. has been as Tony Stark.

A “Strange” movie would not only introduce the mystical and supernatural Marvel universes to the big screen but could encompass the company’s long history of horror characters, some of whom regularly cross paths with heroes like Spider-Man (I’m looking at you, Moebius the Living Vampire) but operate in a realm that ranges from the dark corners of the Earth to other dimensions. It’s a world of magic – already explained in the “Thor” movies as simply science that humans can’t understand – and wild creatures.

If the idea seems strange to you, consider how strange a space raccoon and a talking tree might have seemed before this record-breaking opening weekend for “Guardians of the Galaxy.”