I don’t know if anybody has noticed lately, but we are currently in a Superhero/blockbuster- sequel-reboot rut.
Even though I really enjoyed Jurassic World, thanks in part to me just loving dinosaurs (I am currently training to become a certified T-rex Wrangler), I’m giving it side-eye for its technical sequel and reboot status.
We have a new Ghostbuster’s reboot, (though admittedly it has given us the wonderful thing that is Chris Hemsworth wearing glasses). Then we have Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire. Like, really? Robin Williams the Genie has barely been gone for a year and we gotta try this? Why? Is nothing sacred anymore? Who asked for this?
Anyways, today’s bout will be between two renditions of one family. A group that can be called the ‘first family of the Marvel Universe’.
Fantastic Four (2005)
While Fantastic Four (2005) went literally by the books–comic books–the reboot went in the other direction.
While originality is necessary when making a superhero flick (now that it has become more or less a mainstay in theaters lately), it is especially so when making a reboot. Nobody likes a reboot that literally is a lesser carbon copy of a better film.
There was a point, before the reshoots and back when rumors were the only things on the internet (no matter where you were), where I was actually excited. Going the more sci-fi route was enticing to me because it was different. The crew wasn’t going on a mission into space and then getting slapped by cosmic space wave.
If the 2015 version wasn’t a Fantastic Four movie, it would have been great as a stand alone. Unfortunately for everyone, it was a Fantastic Four film.
Let’s talk about the locations really quick.
First, we have the super nasty Planet Zero, which sounds and looks like the place Kaijus would come from. Not only did nothing look the way it did in the trailers, but it looked like it took a cue from Man of Steel and The Watchmen. Devoid of color saturation but comes with an over-the-top/wtf plot.
One of the sadder things I noticed was that the movie was predominantly centrally located. The story was either at the military base where I guess Fantastic Four: Year Zero was doing things and Planet Zero. This seemed to make the overall scope and stakes seem smaller comparison. By the end of the film, there was no real interaction with the public or the city. Which, in a superhero film is necessary; it’s one of the “tropes”. While, I’m not asking for Man of Steel level destruction and death rates, it should have been at least addressed a bit. Another trope that helps define a superhero film as a superhero film seemed to have been skipped over entirely and it is the “We have superpowers let’s party and f*ck sh*t up” trope (or at the very least “Learning to fly” trope).
One of the few things we were given to work with was the tidbit about Johnny, who, despite being a daredevil, has a fear of heights. Instead, it is glossed over in favor of a year-long time skip. By the time we next see the team, they have already honed their new talents. Given that everybody knows the Human Torch can fly, it would have been a joy to see it happening since he does have that phobia. It was something truly missed because some of the best and memorable scenes within hero universes are the moments where they test out new sh*t.
Examples: The moment Peter Parker begins to web sling for the first-time, in both the reboot and the Sam Raimi trilogy. Tony Stark’s escape from his captors and the first time he perfected sustained flight. The first time the Avengers came together as a crew and Cap said “Avengers Assemble” and we get the that awesome ass panoramic fight scene.
Marvel is filled with many of these moments and they are supposed to be! We got this when Johnny flew for the first time and then perfected it in the 2005 movie. In the 2015 version, we get none of that, but instead it felt like a chore and not like a journey.
So who wins?
This is a really hard question.
One movie was predictable and the other was literally not even a F4 movie.
Both Fantastic movies where anything but…so I’m guessing the point would be to pick which one sucked the least.
It was pretty straightforward on both ends. And that’s kind of sad actually.
While the original was a step-by-step Fantastic Four manual: the movie started, there was some brief insight on the characters, they got their powers, fun side antics happened, and then sh*t got real. But it actually attempted a plot change up by having The Thing flirt with the dark side. And it was justified in that Ben Grimm was left by his fiancee due to his appearance and therefore, he failed to see how integral to the team he was. They even got their asses beat when he was gone.
It was more cohesive, campiness aside, and it just made sense as a Fantastic Four movie.
The reboot, was …whats’ the word? It was self-aware in the worst way. If the 2005 version was the guy that clearly didn’t belong in a college coffee shop, then the 2015 version was the fake hipster telling everyone where the coffee beans came from and talking about other pretentious stuff. The horrible part was that it wasn’t even good. So the movie is essentially the fake hipster pretender guy. It was fake deep like there was supposed to be a takeaway, but it was left on the cutting room floor when Fox came in and redid the whole damn movie.
I don’t know if the takeaway supposed to be to always give jank people with the three “no’s” a chance. Or that Miles Teller will come through and survive every damn thing even though you don’t want him too. Or not everything is meant to be dark as f*ck for no reason. Or re-shoots are Satan. Or even though you wish upon that evening star, it doesn’t mean that Michael B. Jordan can carry an entire crap movie by himself. Or that Fox is petty as f*ck and just won’t let Marvel have things “because”.
WINNER: Fantastic Four (2005)
CAST and CHARACTERS
Question: If we are going through the trouble of fighting for and getting a POC character, why not make it a smaller aspect of the overall plot???
Also, while we are already here, if an actress who is obviously brown is cast why did we give her blonde hair and blue eyes? If that’s what we wanted why didn’t we go and get it?
(***Not even gonna address Chris Evans playing like five different people in the Marvel Universe, cuz Cap does what he wants…even if it’s moonlighting as the Human Torch every once in a while.)
Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch was “meh” at best, even though Trank is so in love with Michael but won’t admit it. So you have multiple shoots where the character is the focus but the scene really accomplished nothing by the end of it. I want Michael to do well, I really do. I want him to have his “come-up yeet” so badly. (*yeet: finisher. Finishing move) But not from this movie, dear Charlie Brown, not this movie.
As for characters, let’s be real, no one was coming here for Invisible Woman (who doesn’t really do much except dodging Namor’s attempts to put those moves on her and getting dumped on by Reed). So there is not much to do there.
The difference, however, (and this is where the reboot could have explored a potentially good thing but didn’t – which happened far too many times) is the fact that in this iteration Sue is adopted. This could have set into motion an internal struggle in trying to find out who she is, which would have been a great parallel for the person on the team that is known for the ability of being invisible. In the original version, Sue’s biggest deal was wanting to be seen by the only person who couldn’t really see her due to being blinded by everything else: Reed.
Mr. Fantastic is a d-bag in the comics and he continues to be one here. At least Ioan Gruffudd managed to make him semi-likable by bringing a bumbling socially awkwardness to him that made him more identifiable. You, Miles Teller, just go home. Sh*t…actually can I go home?
Honestly, having Teller here didn’t up his score. The tide turner for me though was when he was hiding out in South America and was literally 2.5 seconds away from growing a depression beard (if you have no idea what that is, check out the TV tropes wiki page, Beard of Sorrow) and was ‘woeing’ on his life. Granted, a dude did die on a mission that was your brainchild and that you proceeded to joyride despite being told “no,” but if anybody deserves a depression beard and hiding out in a rain-forest-third-world village, it’s the goddamn Thing.
I’m trying to say this with the correct vernacular and without going savagely ham, but buddy all you do is f*cking stretch. It could be a hell of a lot worse. Like: You could be shortchanged the f*ck out of, be reduced to saying something meaningful/anything at all like 4 times in total, have one of those things be your own damn catchphrase, have your penis fall off and become a smooth rock surface and then get no pants for the entirety of the movie. So, f*ck you, Reed.
If my above rant was coherent enough for you to understand, then you already know how I feel. One of the best parts of the comics -though admittedly I was more of a Spidey fan- (which also got translated into the 2005 version) was the Thing and his lovable, clobbering personality. In my opinion, the Thing was fan service for all of the people that got shat on during puberty and it was your personality that made you a joy to be around, because everyone knows it’s easy as f*ck to drop a depressing, not to mention hideous dude that contributes nothing from the crew. While, Ben Grimm made it apparent that while he wasn’t thrilled about what happened to him, it wasn’t going stop him from being friggin’ Ben Grimm.
Something that was challenged and then touched upon in both films is the bond between Ben and Reed. In the 2005 version, they met in college and in the reboot, they were children. So that bond should have been unshakably strong. So much so that the catalyst (at least the initial one) for action on Reed’s part was the search for a cure. At one point, the 2005 version had Ben get pissed off at the fact that Reed (and everyone else really) began to enjoy their powers and the celebrity it afforded and in turn neglected the promise made to Ben. This ended up furthering the plot by having Ben help the villain in order to get what he wanted. In this new version, none of the heroes really found any enjoyment from their powers and relegated it as a burden. The Ben Grimm of this series even had to use the fact that Reed promised to make him sexy again as a guilt measure in order to get him to come back from South America. Reed gave like zero f*cks when he dipped out and left Ben behind for over a year.
In fact, the whole movie gave zero f*cks because I probably only heard “its clobbering time” like once. Side note: the movie even made the trademark saying have a traumatic background by having Ben’s older brother say it before he was about to beat his ass. And he served as an easy way to come up with out-the-way stuff. The name of the super-hero team? Came from some out-the-way moment where guy literally said, “That’s fantastic.”
WINNER: Fantastic Four (2005)
You may have noticed how I failed to mention the infamous Dr. Doom?
Because as a ‘Wildcard’ round I think he deserves that much. Plus, if I had to pick my absolute favorite Marvel villain/adversary who happens to not be Mephisto, it would be him.
And that’s saying a lot because Mephisto literally does evil and outright trifling stuff for sh*ts and giggles. And that is because, where most villains stick to their designated hero, Doom, nominally the arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four, will go toe-to-toe with anyone. Usually, if it isn’t Loki doing stuff, which he most likely is, Doom is in the background masterminding everything. Which is kind of the plot of everything that goes on in the Marvel Universe. If Loki is doing stuff, Odin is being a dick, and Spidey is getting his sh*t kicked in (either physically or mentally), then Doom is somewhere (most likely Latveria) plotting some heinous activities.
THIS WAS LITERALLY THE PLOT OF MARVEL: ULTIMATE ALLIANCE!
Which was really good actually.
Plus, it’s worth noting that in the comics, Doom is the dictator of Latveria, a small European country. It’s fine if you never heard of it. This just means that superheroes haven’t come to wreck everything like Wreck-It Ralph.
Which is how anything involving heroes usually goes down. There’s always massive destruction and what I assume is supposed to be mass causalities. But in Latveria, Doom is like, “not in my house!” and nips it in the bud. So with no causalities, random Hulk vs. Hulkbuster fights, alien portals and large sky rocks, and with what is I assume to be great healthcare, Latveria is the place to be.
Who doesn’t want this guy to rule them?
That is not what we got in the movie.
What we did get is what I like to call the “Three No’s”:
1. Is the person insane?
2. Is the person somehow inexplicably endowed with telekinetic or over-the-top powers?
3. Is this person hideous? (Bonus points: for being hideous and then trying to remake the world in their image)
If you answered “yes” to more than two of these things, either leave this person in the hole they are currently in (instead of trying to bring them back and “fix” them) or outright kill them. F4 (2015) qualified for all three and yet they still attempted to save him…which then predictably backfired.
The movie tried to make him likable, but due to time and what seemed like budget cuts, the movie lacked both any relevant action sequences (pretty sure Straight Outta Compton had more action going on) and a decent villain. So I beg the question, can you really call yourself a superhero movie with no action, a sh*tty villain, and no city to save?
While the 2005 version of Doom was definitely nothing to write home about (despite him being played by Cole from Charmed), this version just left to much unanswered. Like: Why did we bring him back? How the f*ck did he get his powers? Why did we bring him back to the base and then act so shocked when he killed everyone there? Why is this the only scene he does stuff in?
For that and that alone….
I declare Fantastic Four (2005) the winner!
As it is the lesser of evils…
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