Fantastic Four – A History of Failure

Next week, the third Fantastic Four movie hits cinemas in Switzerland. It’s a reboot. This means the previous movies were failures. Let’s investigate what went wrong.

Let’s remember a time where superhero movies weren’t all the rage. Let’s think back to 2005. People were still on the fence when asked whether or not Spider-Man on the big screen had any future. Sure, there was Spider-Man 2 starring Tobey Maguire as our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and he faced off against Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus and that was spectacular.

But would Spider-Man 3 be any good? And what about that other movie, that Fantastic Four thing? Did that have a chance to be good? Meh, we were all very much on the fence about that.

The Not-So-Fantastic Four

In theory, the movie had quite a chance at success. The cast was pretty good, but didn’t have super famous people in it that would make people go «Oh, it’s that person from that other movie!» or the sentence that every fan of anything dreads. The main cast looked as follows.

Fantastic Four

These were the not so Fantastic Four starring, among three other people, Chris Evans who now plays Captain America.

  • Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards aka. Mr. Fantastic
  • Jessica Alba as Susan Storm aka. The Invisible Woman
  • Chris Evans as Johnny Storm aka. The Human Torch
  • Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm aka. The Thing
  • Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom aka. Doctor Doom

With the exception of Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom the casting was pretty decent. I did think that Ioan Gruffudd looked a bit too old for Jessica Alba, but the casting issues have nothing on the mess that the movie ended up being.

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t necessarily bad in the sense it was awful, it was just something between awkward and bland. There was no chemistry between Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba as both delivered kind of lame performances and I suspect the actors didn’t quite gel together and the whole aspect of romance while the world’s exploding got lost. Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom was just awful. There’s no other way of putting it.

Unsurprisingly, Fantastic Four wasn’t quite the smashing success that distributor 20th Century Fox expected. It was successful at the box office, but critics slammed it. In fact, according to juries, the movie was so bad that Jessica Alba didn’t even win a Razzie Award, an award given out to the worst of the movie industry.

By far the best thing about the movie was the soundtrack, boasting tracks by artists such as Sum41, Anastacia and Velvet Revolver. Admittedly, most of these artists don’t have much of a career anymore, but back in 2005, they were quite big names. Here’s an exclusive track by Sum41 for the movie.

Blandtastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer

Despite this, 20th Century Fox greenlit a sequel titled Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer, and starred the Marvel Comics character Silver Surfer, played by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne as a herald of the planet consuming entity Galactus.

To be honest, it wasn’t much better, even though it was slightly more entertaining. There’s even worse chemistry between Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd. This is especially bad because their two characters are getting married in the movie. Add a shoehorned-in Doctor Doom – again terribly miscast with Julian McMahon – and a plot revolving around Ben Grimm being no longer the rocky orange thing for a while and you have yourself enough of a mess that you can build up to a battle against the big bad in form of Galactus.

In the comic books, Galactus looks like this:

Galactus

In the comic books, Galactus’ true form is actually incomprehensible. The human mind just bends his appearance into something it can comprehend.

In the movie, he looks like this:

Galactus

Galactus is a cloud and the Silver Surfer doesn’t really rise to anything. Great movie… not.

Yep, he’s a cloud. I will admit that in the comic books, Galactus looks kind of silly as well, but he has been made to look like a badass in comic books and video games:

Galactus

It’s not impossible to have the big eater of worlds with the silly helmet look awesome.

Galactus

In fact, Galactus can look outright intimidating.

Only that he was a cloud in the movie. A cloud that was fought by four people. Because it might have destroyed the world. A cloud.

Tune in Next Week…

This year, 20th Century Fox reboots the franchise, titled Fantastic Four and it’s got a lot of things against it. There are numerous rumours surrounding the casting and the filming being controversial at best, but the real issues arise with the usual stuff. The cast looks odd, with Kate Mara as Sue Storm being the most fitting in terms of looks.

Fantastic Four

The new Fantastic Four look all-new all-different.

  • Miles Teller as Reed Richards aka. Mr. Fantastic
  • Kata Mara as Susan Storm aka. The Invisible Woman
  • Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka. The Human Torch
  • Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm aka. The Thing
  • Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom aka. Doctor Doom

The most glaring issue is that Johnny Storm is now an African American character. Personally, I have no problem with radical changes to established characters, because a lot of very good things have come from it, such as Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight. But in terms of PR, both African American Johnny Storm and Heath Ledger’s Joker are a tough sell.

I also remember reading that director Josh Trank tried to make the movie into a found footage kind of movie.

Furthermore, the trailer doesn’t exactly look like it will blow us all away. In fact, it doesn’t look like it will re-invent anything or bring anything new or entertaining to the table. Granted, it’s hard to re-invent the superhero movie at this point in time, but this trailer makes it look like we’ll be.

And, of course, there’s the stigma of having the two bombed movies in recent memories. Movies that weren’t bad enough to manage to get a Razzie.

However, the film has got quite some things going for it.

Mainly, it’s the fact that Josh Trank has actually managed to re-invent the superhero genre on the big screen with his first movie Chronicle where he displayed not just a really good feel on the genre, but also the ability to make the overdone and frankly boring movie of the Origin Story into something we actually want to watch. Seriously, Chronicle is worth checking out despite not featuring any famous characters or famous actors.

Then there’s the fact that Miles Teller is an incredible actor as long as he gets something to work with as seen in Whiplash… and kind of not seen in Insurgent that was better than the book by Veronica Roth it was loosely based on.

To find out what we think of the movie, you’ll have to come back here next week when we’ll have an in-depth review of the new Fantastic Four. In the meantime, let’s all hope we will be positively surprised by this reboot that features a younger cast, more fleshed-out costumes and hopefully less awkward romance.

Toby Kebbell as Doctor Doom looks weird, though. What’s wrong with just giving him the mask?

A Little Note

I’m well aware of the 1994 Fantastic Four movie by Roger Cormann. However, that was never released as it was never intended to be released. But I’ve seen it and if you guys want to read about it and – depending on licensing issues – want to see some of it, let me know in a comment to this article.

About Dom

Possessing nigh-encyclopaedic knowledge when it comes to comic books and movies, Dom is one of the co-founders of the Uncanny Book-Club. He also enjoys movies, and going to the cinema.

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