Fantastic Four is a story that all comic book fans know. It follows Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Sue Storm (Kate Mara), her younger brother Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), who are hit with cosmic rays and are given different superpowers that are indicative of their personalities. However, the movie follows the Ultimate universe where Reed finds a way to teleport himself to the Zero World (the Negative Zone in the comics) and brings along Ben, Johnny, and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Here they are hit with green energy that affects them in different ways and give them the powers that fans all know and love.
Where do I start with the things that went wrong in this movie since there are so many? First off, it’s very sad and disturbing when the 1994 Roger Corman cheese fest that was made for twenty dollars is better and shows more respect for the material than a 122 million movie with great talent.
Every actor in this movie deserves better and has done better than what ended up on the screen. There is no way that a movie with Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Toby Kebbell as the main stars should suck this much, but it does. The Fantastic Four should not nor have they ever been a dark and gritty franchise. From day one they’ve been a family with comedic light hearted moments peppered with elements of highly imaginative and wondrous science fiction that has made for some great stories.
There have been dark moments, but this team isn’t The X-Men nor do they venture into Dark Knight territory. Why Trank decided to go this route is anyone’s guess. The pacing in this movie is way off. Due to editing, bad writing, or probably both, things in this movie happen way too quickly and at 100 minutes, which is way too short for a superhero film that features origins for five characters, that’s very noticeable. For instance, the movie starts off well enough showing us who Reed is and the trials he goes through to perfect his teleportation machine and his relationship with Ben Grimm. Once he goes to the Baxter building the relationships with Sue, Victor, and Johnny are sort of rushed as they perfect his teleportation machine. We get very little time with Jamie Bell as a pre-Thing Ben Grimm and the burgeoning romance between Reed and Sue is very awkwardly developed and just plain off. All of a sudden a one year later card flashes and things just fall apart from there. Once the characters get their powers, they’re thrust into being tools for the government and Reed runs away due to his guilt at turning Ben into a rock monster. Once Reed is found and Victor is seen to be a detriment they fight and vanquish him with very little difficulty.
The characterizations are off too. Reed is his usual geeky, bookish, genius self, but the other characters suffer. Johnny comes off too angry and mad at the world rather than a carless, wise ass hothead with a penchant for troublemaking, Sue is very cold and doesn’t seem to be interested in Reed until the middle of the movie. This is in contrast with the comics where she’s immediately taken with him right away and pursues him only to be ignored. Ben is ok, but we get very little time as mentioned earlier. Once he becomes The Thing, he doesn’t have that spunk or New York attitude that we all know and love. He just mopes at no longer being a human and makes Reed feel guilty. It should come as no surprise that Dr. Doom isn’t a very good villain, which is a common problem in most Marvel films (especially the MCU films).
Just like in the Tim Story films, he seems to be a character that they just can’t get right. He is given superpowers that are reminiscent of the David Cronenberg movie Scanners and has the suit grafted to his body during the trip to World Zero. Dr. Doom has never had superpowers nor should he. He’s always had to use his superior intellect in order to combat heroes in the Marvel Universe.
The ending is my biggest problem with the film because it’s so rushed and doesn’t fit the movie, but then again, it does because of how horrible it is. Rumor has it that this ending was tacked on because Fox wanted a more action packed ending. Bad decision because Doom is nothing more than a pushover as it’s quickly figured out how they could beat him and then he’s punched into some blue energy from the teleportation machine and the fight is over.
If there’s anything that Fantastic Four did get right, it’s the characterization of Reed, his powers, and the use of the science fiction elements. Reed is just right in the film and is the Reed from the comic books who’s a genius and really throws himself into his work to the point where his relationships suffer. The way his powers are shown, especially a genius moment where he manages to transform his face into someone else to avoid being detected, make them look believable and grounded when they easily could have looked comical and cartoonish as they did many times in the Tim Story films. The use of science fiction is also cool as we see the portrayal of World Zero as something that’s a mysterious, yet dangerous place and how it relates to our world.
Fantastic Four is a movie that you should only see if you’ve seen every other movie out this summer and are curious about the movie or you’re just plain bored. It’s the worst Marvel movie I’ve ever seen, yet there’s word that Fox is committed to making a sequel, which is just absurd seeing as how they have yet to produce a Fantastic Four film that’s worthy of being called great or even good. Fox recently held surveys asking fans what they should with the franchise and I say just admit defeat and sell the rights back to Marvel, who will know how to make a great movie or even a Netflix television show that respects the lineage of the franchise. This was an epic fail on all levels and a lesson to those looking to make a superhero film.