Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fantastic Four Trailer: My Reaction

I'm a pretty huge Fantastic Four fan....

Decades worth of  FF comics looking surprisingly small when piled together.


As a result I've been looking forward to the new Fantastic Four film in a very big way. A lot of fans seemed to have written the film off already for the usual reasons: "These plot fragments that are emerging with no context sound slightly different to the comic!" etc. There's also been some bloody daft moaning about Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm. (Needless to say, Johnny Storm is hot-headed, impulsive, vain, loyal, heroic and enjoys fast cars and teasing the Thing, and being portrayed by a black actor doesn't change any of these traits.)

Despite the barrage of online negativity I've remained optimistic, and after seeing the trailer today my optimism has turned to full blown excitement. Here's a few things that excited me about the trailer....

1. The Stars!

A few seconds into the trailer and we've already flown over literal "new horizons" and turned our gaze up towards the stars. This film is looking in the right direction.

2. L'il Reed & Ben!

Is this Reed as a kid, trying out some dangerous experiment while a young Ben Grimm looks on? It would seem likely. Ok, so they were best friends from college onward in the comic, but I have no problem with that being extended back to childhood. As long as Reed & Ben are best friends, that's the important thing, and it's looking like that's what we'll see in this film.

3. Reed is passionate about science and discovery!

This bit conveys that beautifully. He looks utterly content and at home surrounded by this complex machinery.

4. Johnny's fixing up a fast car!

Just this one small thing, that harks back to the character's first appearance, is enough to convey that yes, this guy IS Johnny Storm!

5. Astronauts!

Ok, so it doesn't look like a space mission (hope it's something to do with the Negative Zone though) but nevertheless they've certainly got "the right stuff". Four friends risking their life to brave the unknown. (Or in this case, five. I imagine that's Doom with them.)

6. A Thing egg?

Is this Ben's transformation? It looks awesome! To paraphrase '80s Fantastic Four writer/artist John Byrne, the Thing is not Fozzie Bear, he's a monster. He should look like a monster. It sucks being the Thing, that's why he's such a likeable but tragic character. Whatever's going on here looks weird and creepy and monstrous, and that's good.

7. New Frontiers!

Not much to go on here, it could just be a volcano, but is this the Negative Zone? If it is, will we see Annihilus? Hope so!

8. Reed & Vic

Looks like Reed and Victor Von Doom have some kind of bond here. This bodes well. The great thing about Reed & Doom is that they could both so easily become the other. Without his family Reed is pretty much one bad day from becoming Doctor Doom and there have been occasional flashes of nobility from Doom over the years, in between all the evil. Doom seems to be warning Reed here, or he could almost be advising him. Reed and Doom should always be enemies, but at the same time they should also be a bit too close to each other for comfort.

9. A family braving the unknown together!

Not only does this bit look cool, but it also raises some interesting questions. Is this the Negative Zone? Is that a plane in that big shaft of light? Is the Thing not wearing any pants?

Ok, so I could have done with a bit more Sue, bit all in all, this trailer looks great. Judging from the characters' youth, the set up of their power-granting experiment, the presence of Doom and what looks like Johnny & Sue's father at the experiment, and the possible involvement of the Negative Zone, this looks like it's based heavily on Ultimate Fantastic Four. This is fine with me as I really like those comics, especially the Warren Ellis stuff.

Obviously this film isn't going to be to everybody's tastes, and yes, it could still be rubbish, but there's one comment that's kept popping up online today that really, really irks me, so I figured I'd finish this article by disputing it. It's the wrongest thing that's ever been said about the Fantastic Four, and everybody seems to be saying it.

Let's get something straight. The Incredibles is not "Fantastic Four done right". In fact, beyond a few superficial similarities, the Incredibles are nothing like the Fantastic Four.

They're both a family. They both have members who are strong, who can turn invisible, and who can stretch. THAT'S IT!!!

The Fantastic Four is a comic about an occasionally dysfunctional family of sci-fi explorers and adventurers who do what they do because of their love of adventure, their thirst for discovery, and their loyalty to each other. The Incredibles is an animated film about a family of superheroes who go into hiding because of the public's fear and distrust of them and find themselves struggling to deal with anonymity and a "normal" life. It is entertaining enough but, as my pal Madeley has observed many times, it is also a staggeringly right wing, Randian wank-fantasy where superior beings triumph over us ordinary slobs and our attempts to drag them down to our puny level. "If everybody's special, nobody is" etc. And, hey, if that's your politics, more power to ya, but it's not, in any way "the Fantastic Four done right."

This new film however, certainly looks like it might be!