Tuesday, March 10, 2009

5 Simple Rules for Rebooting the Fantastic Four

Over at IESB, they're reporting that 20th Century Fox is seriously considering rebooting the Fantastic Four film franchise, which is good news for anyone who loves great comics or movies that don't insult your intelligence every five minutes or so.

Yeah, yeah, I know, the first two Fantastic Four films were hits, which still boggles my mind. I personally believe that director Tim Story has some sort of secret pact with the devil, which is the only way I can explain me seeing both films in theatres. I can only assume most of you fell prey to the same demonic bargain.

So, to help 20th Century Fox release a good film (which aside from Taken, seems more and more difficult for them to do lately) and to help do justice to what was called "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine", I've come up with some simple rules:

1 - Get the right guy in charge - This is the very first and most important quality. First off, get a director with some sort of vision. Sam Raimi clearly loved early 60s Spider-Man. Jon Favreau had some mad love for the gee-whizzery of Iron Man, and a exceptionally clear idea of the tone of his film. Christopher Nolan may not have been the hugest Batman fan, but he had a unique and innovative direction he wanted to take. So, pick someone to direct that either really gets the FF, or that has at least a clear direction other than wanting to make a superhero movie.

2 - If it ain't on the page... - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's 100 issues of the FF are considered one of the greatest creative runs in comics history. Mine it. Modernize it by all means, but there's a boatload of stories there. Forget the Galactus stuff, that's pretty hard to render effectively (see the second film for proof), but what about a movie where the FF get trapped in the Negative Zone and face off against a whole dimension of creepy creautres, culminating in a huge battle with Annihilus. Cool. And it's a superhero movie that feels more like sci-fi, which we've rarely seen.

3 - If it ain't broke... - You know when the first film lost me? When Doctor Doom went from being the genius ruler of a foreign country who was Reed's college rival and who blames Reed for an accident that scarred Doom's face to an American industrialist who funds Reed's experiments and who is dating Sue Storm. What made Doom so frickin' cool was the fact that he was a gee-dee king! How do you arrest a king? And they gave him powers? No. Doom is a scary genius who created a suit of armor capable of kicking wicked ass. He lives in a castle surrounded by security robots and he tries to launch the Baxter Building into space. He should be totally nuts, consumed by jealousy, and over the top. Doom wants to rule the world, not make money.

4 - Get the FF right - No slight on any of the actors who played the FF, but they were never written well, let alone portrayed properly.
  • First off, Reed Richards is not a young guy. He's in his late thirties at the earliest. That's why he's got the grey in his hair, guys. And Reed is famous. He's not a really smart guy. He's not even a genius. He's the kind of mind that comes along once in a generation if we're lucky. He's Oppenheimer, Einstein and Stepehen Hawking all rolled into one. Your average theoretical scientist might come up with a theory about another dimension, but Reed comes up with the theory and then builds a portal that will take you to said dimension. In a weekend. That's Reed Richards. He's the coolest, nerdiest, smartest explorer of all time.
  • Sue Storm admittedly is the hard one. She's sometimes shown to be a little too denmother to these guys, but that's because she's historically been written by men who have trouble creating women who aren't madonnas or whores. But she's tough. She's capable. She's the one who is connected to people. Johnny is all about the fame, Reed is all about the work, and Ben is a little too damaged. Sue keeps the team going. While Reed is the de facto leader, I think Sue is the one who takes the lead in the field.
  • Johnny Storm was actually the single character the films got right. Chris Evans played him just like he hould be played; a hot-headed, fun-loving, ladykilling guy who loves the fame of being in the FF. The only thing to change is that he should be a kid at the start. Johnny was a teenager when the FF started, and that's what he should be here.
  • Ben Grimm was done fairly well, but frankly the pathos of the character was never really captured, and this was mostly down to the suit. The suit was nice, it was well built, but it didn't really make him into the monster he needs to become. The Thing is huge. If you saw him walking down the street, you'd be scared. His transformation should be the biggest mistake of Reed's life, and in order to communicate that, he needs to really come across as a freak. That being said, when clobberin' time comes around, the Thing has got to be frickin' impressive. A CG Hulk worked very well, and there's no reason (other than expense) why a CG Thing wouldn't be even better.
5 - Kids like good movies too - I've got no problem with making the FF more for kids, but does that mean we have to be treated with incredibly idiotic jokes like Reed using his stretching powers to grab another roll of toilet paper, or the insipid dance number in the second one. Will kids laugh at stupid jokes? Yes, of course they will, they're kids. But they'll also laugh at smart jokes and there's really no need to dumb anything down or simplify for kids. Take a look at Pixar, and you'll see movies tht all kids love and there's not a stupid joke in sight.

So, those are my ideas. We'll see if anything materializes. Hopefuly the FF will get the flick Marvel's First Family deserves.

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