Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fantastic Foreshadowing

I'm often mystified by what outrages the internet fanbase (and by what doesn't).  Seldom has that been true than by the underwhelming response to the recent trailer for the forthcoming Fantastic Four film.

Perhaps it just Marvel fans I don't understand.  Face it: the Fantastic Four is one of Marvel's more ludicrous IPs.  Its extremely Kirbyesque archtypes are as subtle as bricks, underscored by their embarrassing 'battle cries', their incessant squabbling, and the fact that their principal adversary is the most laughable exercise in self-parody ever created by comics (evil scientist/evil wizard/evil European tyrant/evil semi-cyborg/evil vengeful college roommate/evil drama queen Doctor Doom).

There are no amount of stories that can make me take THAT seriously.  And I'm afraid of acid-scarred attorneys and unstable clowns.
And jeez can they YAK. Doom's self-referential monologues, Reed's longwinded scifibabble, Ben's needless nonfunny earthy commentary, and Sue's endless inner monologues of suppressed self-doubt are the stuff of periphrastic legend. All they do is TALK, TALK, TALK.

You tell 'em, Doctor Doo-, er, I mean, Dr. Domino.

And the goofy powers.  Stretching? Being on fire?  Being a big rock guy?  Invisibilizing? In the DCU, they'd be in the Doom Patrol, at best.  Or the Legion (like, say, Elastic Lad, Sun Boy, Blok, and Invisible Kid).  The main thing they've got going for them is Sue's force fields (very cool) and Reed's genius. (which are basically Brainiac 5 as a married couple).

Marvel-fans like to talk them up, like the FF are so all-revered-n-stuff for having put Marvel and superteams on the map.  Yes, that's true; they did that.  But don't lie to me or yourselves, Marvel-fans; you don't really 'revere' them. You don't like them or their comics and you haven't for a long time.  You abandoned the FF for the X-Men about 1000 years ago, and never looked back.  

Until you see a movie trailer that tries to give them exactly the dignity that the didn't get in their previous film versions, Something that emphasizes the awesomeness of science and the unknown, like the original Fantastic Four was intended to do.  Something that gives them an iconic significance for the general public who've not spent the last 40 years taking Victor Von Doom seriously.  Something that dares to realize that 'superhero' isn't a genre, its a mode that encompasses other genres, such as a science fiction.

THEN suddenly you decide no longer to remain unseen as a "FF-Fan", are up in elongated arms about the trailer, flame on about it on the internet because it's clobbering time.

The truth is you don't care about the Fantastic Four.  What  you care about is the implication that, after several years of rejoicing that the general public was starting to embrace the goofiness of comics thanks to AvengersCaptain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc. somebody finally decides, "yeah, no, we need to sober this crap up a bit before we take it to the general public".  You're mad because instead of praising geekdom as normal in the media, this trailer points at your cosplay out and says "not what we're going for, sorry."
Me? I'm finally interested in the Fantastic Four and I think a lot of other sci fi fans will be too.  We hope to see you at there at the cinema.


Anonymous said...

I would say that superheroing is a genre, but you're right, unitards and code-names don't define the genre.

The Fantastic Four are more a team of adventurers, as I see it -- not much crime-busting, but lots of exploring the unknown.

John said...

This is the problem with most of Marvel, in my eyes: The ideas are spectacular, but the executions are so...adolescent. I mean, the FF is basically Superman as created by Holden Caulfield, no?

And yes, the movie actually looks decent.

Chad Walters said...

I wouldn't call myself a Fantastic Four fan. I've seen some of their stuff and read an issue here and there, but I don't know much about them. But one thing I do know is that if there's ONE comic book that should never be "sobered up", it's Fantastic Four.

They're not crime fighters, they're adventurers. They travel through space and time, visit subterranean lands and undersea cities, and explore alternate realities and pocket dimensions. Their rogues gallery includes a devourer of worlds, a king of Atlantis, a king of the mole people, the lord of an antimatter universe, a time conqueror, two alien empires, witches, hidden races, and yes, a scientist wizard dictator in armor.

The trailer looked good, and the characters lend themselves well to a Cronenbergesque sci-fi horror story that will be interesting to watch. But that's not the Fantastic Four.

Redforce said...


It seems like you missed Scipio's point. In the movie, the ARE adventurers, albeit in a more 'realistic' setting. It looks like they are volunteering for some experiment instead of space flight, but that seems to be in line with that core concept of the FF. The other core concept is that the FF are a 'family', pranks, bitching, and all. If the film hits that too, then it WILL be an FF movie.

Redforce said...

I also have to say, I DISagree with Scipio about Marvel's dialog. I always kinda dug the overwrought, Wagnerian operatic speeches. I also think Dr. Doom is a great villain, not because of what he says or how he talks, but because of WHY he does what he does.

Andrew said...

I haven't seen the trailer, because I make a point of not seeing these if I can avoid it. I know I'm going to see the film, so why not make the experience as fresh as possible?

That said, Scipio's analysis of how comics fans insist that the films be Love Letters to the Comic Fan that You Were When You Were Twelve, and pretend to be defending the honour of a team that they weren't interested in otherwise, is bang-on analysis, as usual.

I think that the individual FF members work better as occasional members of the supporting cast of other books: Reed as the Wise Old Scientist, Ben as the Good-Natured Muscle, Johnny as the Brash, Devil-May-Care Adventurer, and Sue as the Voice of Reason and Emotional Intelligence. These are characters you can slot into the subplots of Spider-Man, the Avengers, Power Man and Iron Fist, etc., as required.

All the same I am looking forward to the movie.

Andrew said...

That said, yo, Scipio, much love and Imma let you finish, but Dr. Doom is one of the BEST supervillains OF ALL TIME

Joshua Roots said...

"THEN suddenly you decide no longer to remain unseen as a "FF-Fan", are up in elongated arms about the trailer, flame on about it on the internet because it's clobbering time."

BWAHAHAHA! Quoted for posterity.

The FF have long been billed as a Marvel "tent pole", but as you pointed out, Scip, X-Men took over eons ago. Yes, there are die-hard fans, but not enough to save the title. And while it's run comes to an end, X-Men continue with more and more titles every month. There's no arguing that FF has/had potential and Doom can be/could be an amazing villain, but it simply didn't reach that potential. Like that old family car that you love but never drive, most people remember what used to be. Heck, I'm a Marvel fan (of some titles) and mourn the death of the FF as a concept, but can't tell you the last time I even skimmed through a copy at the comic shop.

As for the trailer, FF movies rank low on my Care Radar. Personally, I don't think it was time to reboot the franchise, but considering Sony only owns them, Spider-Man, and X-Men, they need to cash in on the superhero genre while its hot. That said, at least the new movies can't be worse than the first attempts.

Joshua Roots said...

Its, not it's.

*hangs head in grammatical shame*

Scipio said...

Thanks for those Depp comments, Josh!

Joshua Roots said...


Anonymous said...

"I think that the individual FF members work better as occasional members of the supporting cast of other books"

I would still give a kidney to read a good Ben Grimm / Dick Grayson team-up series. They're the hearts of their respective comic book universes, and tell me they wouldn't click.

Anonymous said...

"In the DCU, they'd be in the Doom Patrol, at best"

The Doom Patrol was a shameless imitation of the Fantastic Four. Flying energy guy, woman with body-change powers, smart-aleck trapped in an orange monster body, and a smart guy.

Scipio said...


Scipio said...
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