So, I’ve done my past three blog posts on either the MCU, Marvel in general, or a Marvel franchise. I thought it would be fitting to finish up with another Marvel post. This time I’ll be perusing the Fantastic Four franchise to figure out why it always ends up being terrible movies. I’ve mentioned in passing in other blog posts about how terrible Fantastic Four is but I’ve never delved into why. Perhaps there isn’t an answer and the franchise is simply just cursed but I hope to at the very least explore the franchise as a whole. Maybe I’ll discover something profound or maybe I’ll just end up showing that Fantastic Four is just terrible. I honestly don’t know which one will be the most likely.
Regardless of the film adaptation, Fantastic Four has five key characters and a more or less consistent origin story. In the comics, Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, and Benjamin Grimm meet in college where Reed was already planning to build a spaceship that Ben would inevitably pilot. Victor planned on building a machine that could astral project someone into other dimensions. When he built his machine, it exploded and scarred his face. He blames Reed for this because of their rivalry (
and their ridiculous masculine pride). He disappears and becomes Doctor Doom. Meanwhile, Reed manages to build his spaceship and takes it out for a spin with Ben as the pilot and Susan and Johnny Storm as passengers. A solar flare passes through the ship and forces them to absorb way too much cosmic radiation ( as if there’s a healthy amount). The four return to Earth where they discover they’ve changed. Thus, begins the Fantastic Four that most of us are familiar with in the movies.
Now, there are three separate adaptations of the Fantastic Four that total out into four movies. Most people forget about the one that came out in 1994 and I haven’t seen it so I can neither complain nor give accurate enough information about it to critique it. However, from what I’ve seen of it, it seems like a more accurate representation of the Fantastic Four than the other two but since I haven’t seen the movie, take that with a grain of salt. I have, on the other hand, seen Fantastic Four (2005), Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Fantastic Four (2015) so I’ll be talking about them more. I won’t really mention Rise of the Silver Surfer since that was a sequel and it doesn’t have much to compare with the origin movies.
So, I’ve noticed that both recent Fantastic Fours, 2005 and 2015, deviate slightly from the origin story in the comics. Well, the 2015 one deviates A LOT. 2005 has Reed’s space ship funded by Victor and all five of them are on the ship when it gets blasted with cosmic rays. The five are full grown adults with Susan and Victor engaged to be married. The 2015 movie takes place with them all as college students or college student age since Johnny and Ben aren’t in school at the time. Everyone except for Ben helps Reed build a machine that he figured out how to make as a child that transports objects into another dimension. The government decides to confiscate the machine once it nearly blows up and Reed, Victor, Ben, and Johnny drunkenly use it to teleport to that mysterious dimension. Not surprisingly, things go badly. Victor falls into a chasm and the others try to escape with Susan helping them from the other side. The four get blasted by, I suppose, transdimensional radiation that turns them into the Fantastic Four. The government becomes Susan, Ben, and Johnny’s handlers while Reed goes on the run (
for some reason).
Both movies end with a final confrontation with Victor since he’s the villain and they handle them in the way that each movie sets up.
Why The Movies Are Bad
I want to say that it’s because they don’t stay faithful to the source material. Neither movie was exactly like the comics and I think that may be what’s wrong. Granted, the 1994 movie has a 3.9/10 on IMDB so take that as you will. However, the 2005 movie was closer to the origin story in relation to how they got their powers and the 2015 movie was closer to how old the characters actually are. Neither movie actually stays consistent with the source material. The more successful Marvel movies are more or less similar to the comics. Of course, since it’s called the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some things will be bent to fit the world that they’re in but they still all work together. I think the Fantastic Four movies have been trying to add a spin to the comics like some of the MCU movies do. They just haven’t been doing them in the right way. The Fantastic Four comics seem ten times more interesting than the movie adaptations and they relate to the rest of the Prime Marvel Universe well. For example, the new Iron Man is none other than a reformed and redeemed Doctor Doom.
Though, it might also be how the directors and writers try to set up the movies. The 2015 one was incredibly predictable and unsurprising in the least bit. The 2005 movie was charming in a sort of this is bad but it could be worse way. Also, the Fantastic Four movie franchise may indeed be cursed. I mean, they’ve tried making movies out of it three times and all three have been terrible. Though, if I had to pick a Fantastic Four to watch again, I couldn’t really pick between 2005 and 2015. They’re both bad but they’re two different kinds of bad so I suppose it’d depend on how I’m feeling.