There’s a new Fantastic Four film in the works, with a cast of young actors, the apparently shocking bit being that Johnny Storm will be black (who cares…it’s 2014, and besides, Chris Evans is Captain America now). Honestly, I’m maybe in the minority here of comic fans, but who the fuck cares about the Fantastic Four?
Let me explain – I was a comic book fan growing up in the 1980s. Marvel treated the FF like royalty and treated my favorite team, the X-Men, like shit. Oddly enough, X-Men consistently out sold FF, but Marvel just LOVED the FF. They tried and tried to make people like them, but I’ll be honest, there’s not a whole lot to like about these characters. Reed Richards is pretty much a giant douchebag, Sue Storm is the abused wife who won’t leave, Johnny Storm is the closeted brother (FLAME ON!), and Ben Grimm is the sad-sack who probably would end up being your annoying Teabagger uncle these days (goddamned Obamacare doesn’t cover being turned into living rock!). While it might seem like this could lead to an interesting story, and in some ways it could…for a soap opera anyway…for the most part it’s boring as shit when you put it into a comic book.
The only good FF stories were ones where they had to deal with stuff that was totally crazy and somehow they were the only ones who could handle it…this despite the fact that both the X-Men and the Avengers had many times the firepower that the FF could muster. Hell, Thing isn’t nearly as strong as the Hulk, and Invisible Woman? Meet Jean Grey, who can do all you can do plus read minds (and eat stars occasionally…). There is just nothing about the FF that set them apart, but Marvel pimped their asses fiercely throughout the 80s and into the 90s.
Finally around 2000 people started figuring out that no one gave a shit about the FF. Marvel, flailing through bankruptcy, tried lots of ways to save them. None of them particularly worked. The movies flopped, and realistically there is no good reason to try to pull them back down off the shelf.
Well…there is one. You see, Fox owns the rights to the Fantastic Four. They also own the rights to the X-Men. Marvel just made movie history with its Marvel Cinematic Universe…the Avengers showed what could be when you do things right. So now Fox is going to try to build its own shared universe, with the Fantastic Four coming to inhabit the X-Men universe. Ok, cool…um, except the FF and the X-Men have very, very little in common. The best they get is that Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue, is a mutant. Except they don’t really accept that he’s a mutant, and Reed in the comics has dedicated massive amounts of time to removing Franklin’s mutant abilities. For the most part, the FF are anti-mutant bigots in the way they have historically treated Franklin.
Still, this seems to be the direction Fox is heading. I think they believe they can set up a similar shared universe, and they aren’t the only ones. Sony is trying to do the same, but they only have access to the Spider-Man family….and there isn’t exactly a lot of shared universe stuff you can do with that. Maybe a Venom spin off? The thing with the FF is, I’m pretty much sure this reboot will bomb. It won’t bomb because of the actors or because of the shared universe, it’ll bomb because the FF are fucking boring.
And that, honestly, is why any movie can fail.