Volume 4, Issue 34!
“Fantastic Four: What Now?”
With the bomb now dropped and the damage done, you can’t throw a rock at the Internet without hitting an article explaining “why Fantastic Four bombed”. Some sites blame Josh Trank. Others blame Fox. A majority are now saying that it was the two of them together. But no matter what, Marvel’s first family is in worse shape than they were in 2007 after Rise of the Silver Surfer came out (a movie that did BETTER than this movie did critically and commercially). I’ll be straight up with you all: I didn’t go see it. I was on the fence when I first heard about this “realistic” approach to the characters, but once I started reading the reviews I DEFINITELY wasn’t paying money for it. It’s clearly not the response that the director, cast, or studio hoped for, but what happened, really? How is it that Fox can’t get the Fantastic Four right?
Well, for starters, every version of Dr. Doom (with the exception of the bootleg Roger Corman unreleased film) has been wrong. To me, Doom is an integral part of the Fantastic Four, and if you can get him right, you can get the rest of the FF right. Dr. Doom should be one of the simplest villains to translate to the big screen, yet Fox has continually decided to try and “fix” him. While I can see the appeal and ease of having Victor Von Doom go on the initial trip with Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben, it just doesn’t really work. You lose the rivalry between Reed and Victor when you do it, which, second to Xavier and Magneto, is one of the best relationships in comics. Plus, adding weird electrical powers or telekinesis to Doom? No. It’s a suit of armor, with tech (maybe magic if you want to). In a world where you have Iron Man as a giant hit, the fact that Fox and Josh Trank couldn’t see that you could make Doom an evil Iron man is baffling.
What’s also baffling about Doom’s treatment on the big screen is the fact that studios refuse to use his dictator angle as a character trait. Doom’s rule of Latveria is VITAL to the character because it gives him a sense of nobility. Yes, he does terrible, awful things, but the people of his country love him because he protects them and cares for them. Honestly, all you would need to do is make Latveria North Korea, and Dr. Doom Kim-Jong Un. How has that not happened yet? Granted, studios might be a little leery to use this take on Doom after The Interview, but as long as you don’t blatantly say that Latveria is North Korea, I can’t foresee it being a problem.
It sounds like this new Fantastic Four also messed up another major aspect of the team: their sense of family. Say what you will about the casting, plot, and over all quality of the Tim Story Fantastic Four movies, but at least they got the sense of the FF being a family. I’ve heard that in the 2015 reboot, Ben and Johnny don’t even speak to one another until the last 5 minutes of the movie, where they then act like best buds. Seriously?
Many, and I’m guilty of this myself, are loudly proclaiming that Marvel should swoop in snap up the rights, but recent reports are making it sound like it won’t be that easy. First there’s the fact that Fox and Marvel are still locked in a pretty bitter feud over the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights, and there’s also the fact that even in the face of Fantastic Four’s dismal opening weekend, Fox has remained optimistic. They’ve said they’re “committed to the characters” in a press release sent out Monday. Of course, this could be the studio’s way of saving face, as there’s rumors that the release date for Fantastic Four 2 will now most likely be for a sequel to Deadpool.
Surprisingly, the only hope I can foresee for Marvel getting the rights back would be through the X-Men. Last week, Fox announced that they wanted to make an X-Men TV show. However, Fox needs to seek permission from Marvel Studios in order to start production, since their deal doesn’t explicitly state live action television. While I can’t imagine that Marvel wouldn’t attempt to buy the rights straight up (they had tried that with Sony before cutting the Spider-Man deal), it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t try to get them back in exchange for Fox being allowed to create an X-Men TV show (at this point, even Marvel must realize that the X-Men are never going back to them).
But, even if Marvel Studios gets the FF back, what would they do with them? They’ve already moved around their release schedules to accommodate Spidey, and I doubt they have enough wiggle room to throw the Fantastic Four in there. Perhaps the best bet would be to put them on Netflix or ABC. Or hold onto them and have them appear in supporting roles in Avengers or Spider-Man movies. That way you could show audiences that they are a legitimate superhero team, and not the joke that they are right now.
Look, I’m a casual Fantastic Four fan at best, but I have fond memories of getting up stupidly early to watch The Marvel Action Hour as a kid. While Spider-Man was my introduction to comics, the Fantastic Four cartoon was my introduction to the Marvel universe as a whole. Sure, there had been some crossovers in the Spidey comics I read, but that cartoon was the first time I saw characters like Daredevil, The Hulk, Ghost Rider, and others interact together to fight huge threats. It also introduced me to the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and Doctor Doom. The Fantastic Four deserve a hell of a lot more respect and care than they’ve been getting on the silver screen. Hopefully they get it soon.