28th Jan2015

Fantastic Four – Why the Reboot Will Work

by Dan Clark

Fantastic-Four

The movie everyone already hates finally had its trailer released yesterday, and I have to say I am enjoying what I am seeing. First, I should state that I am actually looking forward to this reboot. I know many have had issues with casting choices, potential script elements, and updates to characters—but I see a lot of those outcries as knee jerk overreactions. I understand that as fans we take ownership of the properties we enjoy. We take issue when people come in and start changing things from what we already know. It does not help when the people behind those changes are Fox who nearly destroyed the X-Men movie franchise with X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins. Not to mention the last time they made a Fantastic Four movie they took one of Marvel’s all-time greatest cosmic characters and made him into a giant cloud. I know it is difficult but let’s for a second take emotion out of it and view this project from a postive angle.

To start we have a cast full of some of the best young talent today starting with Miles Teller as Reed Richards. The star of the Oscar nominated Whiplash is playing the greatest mind in the Marvel Universe. I understand Teller does not necessarily have the personality one would associate with Reed Richards. He is more crass than stoic, more sarcastic than thoughtful, and does not strike you as the smartest person in the room. That’s the beauty of acting I guess. We punish people when we feel they play the same role too much, but when they attempt to break out of that mold we reject their attempt and tell them to get back into their established box. Will Teller make us feel like the Reed Richards of the comic has transmuted himself from the page to the screen? I am not sure, but I can say I am excited to see him try. Starring opposite Teller is Kate Mara as Sue Storm. She may be a little less proven than Teller. Still, after seeing her in the first season of House of Cards it is clear she has a long career ahead of her. Not to mention her acting talent has increased tenfold when compared to the last person to play the role of The Invisible Woman. She has the stubborn strong will that was so lacking last time.

I am shocked more people are not psyched about the possibility of Toby Kebbell playing the role of Dr. Doom. After Kebbell’s breakout performance as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I am giddy for what he can do with a character like Doom. I know one big piece of contention is the rumor Dr. Doom will be some sort of computer hacker. I will grant you that does seem strange and out of touch. It is clearly a blatant attempt of a movie studio trying to latch onto the niche of today to grab the attention of the supposed youth. Now with that said it does not mean it can’t work, but more importantly who knows if that rumor is in fact true. When looking at the trailer it appears the threat is larger than that of a blogger. Plus a character can evolve. Perhaps the blogger is just a starting point to something greater?

I am hesitant to bring up the casting of Michael B. Jordan as it has caused some firestorms. While I understand it is problematic if we just start changing the race of characters, I do feel at times it can be appropriate. Here I think it makes sense, mostly because Michael B. Jordan does embody the personality of Johnny Storm. He has even worked with director Josh Trank before in Chronicle where he played a similar role. Regarding the race issue I see it this way. Is the character’s race a reflection of the character’s personality or background? For someone like Steve Rogers changing his race would be tricky because it is so tied to history. As sad of a fact as it may be it would be ignorant to think America would make their symbolic hero anything but Caucasian during World War II. For Johnny Storm changing his race does not alter the foundation of the character in any major way, and please let’s hold off the, “But Johnny Storm and Sue Storm are bother and sister but different races!?!?” comments. That gigantic issue could be resolved with one line of dialog saying they are adopted or half brother and sister. In the world we live today families of mixed race are far from abnormal.

As mentioned previously Josh Trank worked with Michael B. Jordan on the movie Chronicle. I personally really enjoyed Chronicle and was impressed with what Trank was able to pull off with such a limited budget. Even if you were not a fan of that film you have to admit Trank at least showed the ability to cleverly use special effects and stage action in exciting ways. Now that he has an even bigger budget and better actors at his disposal I am hopeful he can prove the doubters wrong once again.

Now let’s finally get to the trailer. Overall I like what I see. Yes the tone of it is more reminiscent of a Nolan film than I would like, but I can understand why. You want to distance yourself as much as possible from the failures of the past Fantastic Four movies, and that is exactly what this does. We do not get much, but what we do get is an announcement that this team is different. When I compare this trailer to the recent Ant-Man trailer this has me much more excited. There is a personality here that was not present in the trailer for Ant-Man. While that trailer was a standard affair, this gave us something just unique enough to peak my interest.

Perhaps the movie will be awful, and all the hope I have will be crushed into tiny microscopic bits of disappointment. My major point is it is not all bad. There is plenty of good we can point at and say this movie might work. Call me an apologist if you would like. I am fine with that label. Past geek history has proven we all jump to conclusion far too quickly. People freak out when we change what came before, but ask yourself when’s the last time you heard someone who was excited about anything related to Fantastic Four? If you were to walk into any con how much Fantastic Four cosplay would there be? So maybe…just maybe the Fantastic Four are in need of change to be relevant for today’s audience. Adapt or die. Clearly Fox is trying to adapt, but we won’t let them. Let’s for once just give something the opportunity to be released before we pile on the hate.

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