31
Jul 05

The Fantastic Four

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 344 views

We went to see Fantastic Four yesterday and…it was pretty good! Really! It was fine. Underrated even! I’ll leave Pete or one of those, you know, film people to talk about it as a movie, and I’m going to talk a bit about its relationship to the Fantastic Four comics.

My first thought is that the film has been pretty fickle with its source material – this is not one for the purists, with its Sue-and-Doom relationship and metal-Doom and whatnot. Not that it matters: as we discussed in the pub after (those of us who cared, that is), this revisionism was sort of necessary. The FF’s actual origin involves them going into space not to save the world’s children but to BEAT THE RUSSKIES. Also Doctor Doom’s on-panel first battle with the team involves him tricking them back in time to find Blackbeard’s treasure, a frankly excellent motivation but perhaps not one to build a film around.

Anyway, I then realised that the film is actually very faithful to the comics – it just depends which comics you mean. The origin sequences and characterisations are much more like Jim Lee’s 1996 re-imagining of the FF for Heroes Reborn, and the metal Doom echoes the mutated Van Damme from Ultimate FF. The film has magpied from the various versions and origins of the team to leave a Fantastic Four who are probably as screenworthy as they’ll ever be.

Watching the movie some things seem intensely familiar, but something’s missing: the sense of grandeur that Kirby brought to the comics. This is very much Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four, full of squabbles and soap. You could form a checklist: Thing and Torch practical jokes, check. Thing and Torch fight, check. “I’m a monster”, check. Reed being nerdy instead of romancing Sue, check. Thing leaves the FF and comes back ten minutes later – YES!! And even better – Thing turns back to Ben temporarily, O fanboy heaven! Basically the meat-and-potatoes stuff that makes the FF the FF is all here, you need never read one of their comics after this. The Kirby gravy isn’t there, though – the micro-dimensions, planet-eaters, time platforms and great refuges that offset the bits of human business, replaced with a stock villain and an underwhelming fight. If there is a second film, that’s the one thing I’d change.

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