MovieBob - Intermission
Why Is Fox Hiding The Fantastic Four?

Bob Chipman | 22 Aug 2014 12:00
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Let's be clear: Man of Steel was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad movie. But I didn't know it was bad until I'd seen it. To hear some people talk, they "knew" just by virtue of the Nolan-esque (and thus very anti-comic-bookish) color palette and Superman's lack of classic red trunks. And as much as Zack Snyder's film was a (conceptual) departure from the traditional Superman, Josh Trank's Fantastic Four looks to be even moreso from its Silver Age Lee/Kirby roots.

From what's known thus far, this new Fantastic Four probably won't wear costumes. They might not call themselves The Fantastic Four. Instead of a surrogate family unit (Reed & Sue as Mom n' Dad to Johnny and Ben as rowdy kids) of space-explorers like the iconic originals, they'll be college-age kids working as lab assistants to their scientist parents. The Human Torch is black. Doctor Doom is... actually, nobody seems to know yet. But all told, it sounds closer to Ultimate Fantastic Four than anything -- which I'll admit gives me no small amount of pause since Ultimate FF was pretty awful even by the wildly-inconsistent standards of the Ultimate line, and only approached being interesting once it started indulging in fan-fictiony nonsense like making Ultimate Mr. Fantastic evil.

Still, some of that sounds interesting to me. And some of it sounds iffy. But what it all sounds like is a project whose first trailers could send fans more preoccupied with fidelity (to the Silver Age wacky-wonderment currently fueling the MCU films in particular) into an apoplectic fit of "They've ruined it!!!" hysterics, which will in turn be seized upon and amplified to pure ugliness by the vocal minority who've been spitting acid ever since it was announced that Johnny Storm was now black.

If so, it's an unfortunate turn of events. But to my mind it's the most likely scenario: Fox is facing a fandom/press-management landscape that has become almost wholly binary in the way it processes reactions: "OMG it's like they jumped right out of Issue #183 perfect!!!" (Marvel) or "F***! That's NOT what his hat looks like they've ruined it!!!" (everyone else -- with only DoFP excepted by virtue of "Wow! All the old people came back!" carrying a nostalgia thrill for a sizable substrata of fans.

If I'm being honest, what I do know about Fantastic Four doesn't fill me with confidence. I like the idea of Josh Trank working with a studio war-chest, but it doesn't feel like he's the right fit for the project and there's no indication that Fox cares what the finished product is beyond finished and releasable. I'm sure that whenever we do see the trailer, I will not be getting the same "Holy Mary mother of God!" thrills I got from the first Captain America trailer, or even the "This... could be interesting..." chills of seeing Henry Cavill's Kal-El take his first flight. But I'm also sure that I won't know for sure until I see the damn movie.

Again: I get where fandom is coming from. We've seen plenty of projects go bad because a filmmaker decided they knew better (or were better) than the material. But we'd do well to remember that it wasn't too long ago that Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon would never have made it to theaters for fear of being too outside the narrow standards of a mainstream audience. We would do well not to become just as narrow ourselves.

...even if it is impossible to conceive of a universe where Miles Teller is good casting for any role apart from Miles Teller.

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