Here at Biff Bam Pop!, we can be pretty critical of the movies, television, and comics we love. I know I’m guilty of it. It’s easy to criticize, but the question is – could I do it better? Now we present the next in our series, If I Did It, where contributors tell how they would do things differently in work they disliked.
Meet me after the jump for the next edition of If I Did It… featuring a film about which many have had their say, including our own Andy Burns right here, and Ray Cornwall and myself on The GAR! Podcast right here. Yep, I’m talking about Fantastic Four…
Josh Trank’s Vision
Granted, what we got wasn’t that bad, until the end at least toward the end. Based on the Ultimate comics version of the origin, and very loosely I might add, we end up with four (five if you count Victor Von Doom) individuals with enhanced abilities that go to work for the government first, and then after defeating a major threat, work on their own as a team. The story is presented as very science fiction, almost anti-superhero, and a lot of people hated it, many were indifferent, and it died a quick if modest death at the box office.
Director and co-writer Josh Trank was at the center of controversy as to what was wrong with, and what went wrong with his Fantastic Four. He blamed studio interference, and for sure there was that, but was his unique and unfinished vision really the Fantastic Four, really the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation that started the Marvel Age of comics back in 1961. His movie may have at one time been full of wonder, but not the kind us old school comic heads wanted, and also not what moviegoers wanted either.
Sixties Space Race, Baby!
How would I do it? I had mentioned this on the podcast and reiterate here, I would put this movie in the past. My Fantastic Four, like the original comics, would be a product of its time. Think “Mad Men,” think JFK, and the space race, think rayguns and rockerships science fiction. Having it happen in the past is really the only way to make the FF origin work and make sense. Witness the use of the Ultimate Comics origin in Trank’s version, that’s because no one cares about going into space any more. As much as I hate saying this, astronauts are passé.
That’s where my Fantastic Four would emerge from. There’s already a really cool website online that kinda digs where I’m coming from. It’s called The Fantastic Four TV Series (1963-64), and can be found here at the appropriately named auntpetunia.com. The site imagines that a sixties live action TV series did exist, and lists stars and plots, and even episode synopses. It’s great fun, and very much like I imagine my FF should be.
Not That Kind of Doom
One mistake that has been played out in a number of superhero movies over the decades, starting with Tim Burton’s Batman is the idea of tying the villain into the origin of the hero or heroes. This is a bad idea. Let me amend that, it’s a bad idea for comic book movies. If you’re doing just a two-hour movie, it works that everything is tied together, but let’s face it, superhero comic books – in any media – are serial fiction. Everything does not have to connect. Doom has been in every movie version of the FF’s origin, I say, get him out.
I would definitely have Victor Von Doom lurking in the shadows, maybe a cameo as Reed’s college roommate, and perhaps even show the experiment gone awry that scars him, but that’s all he would get in the first movie. Doom is an opponent for a sequel, a juicy morsel worth waiting for. I would go old school for my first villain, and it would go hand in hand with my love of kaiju eiga. As in the comics source material, the Fantastic Four’s first foe would be the Mole Man.
Here Come the Monsters
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done well exploring different genres and the varied aspects of their characters, now with FF, let’s go in a completely different direction. We’re already doing this old school scifi, but better addition to that formula but giant monsters? Now the Mole Man himself, and his subservient creature underlings, the Moloids, could very well be considered monsters themselves, but I’m talking about the big guys, giant monsters who dwell on Marvel’s Monster Island and frequently used in his insidious plans.
People love giant monsters, so why not bring Marvel’s own to the screen? Besides regular Mole Man monsters like Megataur, Giganto, and Tricephalous, I would also throw other Atlas Age monsters like Fin Fang Foom, Gorgilla, Zzutak, Googam, Kraa, and It, the Living Collossus. It would be great to see any of them on the big screen, but also to see the FF, learning and showcasing their new powers against them as well.
The film would end much as it did with the Josh Trank version. The team gets uniforms, a headquarters, and a name, and begin their real adventure in the 1960s Marvel Cinematic Universe. Future foes for the sequels would include of course Doom, the Sub-Mariner, and perhaps some variation on the Frightful Four. Maybe they could even squeeze in the Inhumans or an early version of S.H.I.E.L.D., all done 1960s period style.
After some adventures, maybe they would be lost in the Negative Zone fighting Blastaar or Annihilus, only to reemerge in the present day, unaged, and ready to join the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. If it worked for Captain America, why not the FF? That would be my Fantastic Four. How would you do it?