For those intelligent enough to avert their eyes, the first Fantastic Four failed phenomenally and the sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, was gut wrenchingly stupid (Who in their right mind thought Galactus should be a cloud?!). But as super heroes go, despite being a bit on the blander side, they can work as a movie, if the right people were put to the task. Which is something that has failed to occur so far in their theatrical lives. But wait! Twentieth Century Fox has set a date for the release of a reboot: March 6, 2015. Interesting that they would set the release of a film about a group of people coming together through their mutual procurement of super powers only a couple months from the prospective release date for another studio’s movie about a group of people who came together through mutual procurement of super powers, and another studio’s release date for a movie about a group of heroes coming together through mutual acquisition of super powers.
From the looks of things, the screenwriters they got to helm the story, Michael Green and Jeremy Slater, have the chops to get this movie done right. Further, it would be done on a proper budget that doesn’t lead to a preposterously fake looking suit of rock for The Thing, and a Galactus that’s a giant dust cloud instead of the planet sized robot he’s supposed to be. No matter what Green and Slater do, it will not and cannot be worse than that atrocity of comic book film.
The one thing with the potential to keep me up at night concerning the recreation of the Fantastic Four, however, is the continuing trend of keeping superheroes grounded in reality, and the use of melodrama instead of genuine character. These are super heroes with the power of a rubber band, a can of gasoline and a matchbook, the unpopular kid at school (invisible), and a rock respectively. There is no reality where any of their existence is remotely feasible. They belong to the world of fantasy because that is where they have always thrived. To pull them closer to our world only serves to starve them of the energy they need to be entertaining. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have real drama or conflicts. One of the biggest problems with Green Lantern was the way they decided to tackle relationships and character building, in that they took the laziest possible route and it came off as forced, cliché, and impossibly awkward. And those problems snaked their way through the earlier Fantastic Four movies like a tape worm, feeding off the greater part of the story, lessening the strength of what had great potential. But cliché only derives itself from the predictability of a story. The Thing can still have trouble coping with his appearance, The Human Torch can still be a cocky pretty boy dead set on having fun with his powers, and Mr. Fantastic can still have a relationship with the Invisible Woman despite all the problems these subplots had. The trick is to make something new out of these stories instead of it looking like they meshed together three different genres into one hodgepodge mess of a movie. It’s about four people becoming greater than everyone around them. It all has to be centralized around that one main idea. It’s part of the reason The Avengers worked so well, because the character development all focused around coming together as a team to fight off an alien invasion of Earth. Hopefully, this next team will be able to pull off something even better.