Marvel’s “First Family” has had a rocky road to the big screen. Although the characters of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm have delighted Marvel comic book fans for generations, the “Fantastic Four” has never received the cinematic adaptation that they deserve. Unfortunately, these great characters have never been properly utilized. The “Fantastic Four” comics show what it’s like to balance superhero responsibilities with familial duties.
Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing were brought to life in 1994’s “The Fantastic Four,” a low-budget film that never received a theatrical release. It wasn’t until 2005 that they made it to the big screen when Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis were cast in Tim Story’s “Fantastic Four.” While the cast has strong chemistry, the film did not strike the right tone. 2007’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” at least gave them a chance to face off against the enigmatic Silver Surfer (Doug Jones).
The series was next rebooted in 2015 with John Trank’s disastrous “Fant4stic,” which stars Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell. When the rights reverted to Marvel Studios thanks to the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney, a new reboot set in the MCU became inevitable.
Hopefully, this new version will succeed after all of the previous failures. These “Fantastic Four” movie moments make no sense.
1994’s The Fantastic Four Was Never Released
The first Fantastic Four film is one that most Marvel fans probably haven’t seen. Back in the early 1990s, there wasn’t much excitement about films based on Marvel properties thanks largely to the failure of 1986’s “Howard the Duck.” German filmmaker Bernd Eichinger purchased the rights to “The Fantastic Four” from Stan Lee in 1983. Although a script was pitched to several studios, Eichinger was running out of time to make a film by 1992.
To retain the rights to the characters, Eichinger hired legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman to make a cheap film that could be quickly produced. With a budget of $ 1 million, Corman hired Alex Hyde-White as Mr. Fantastic, Rebecca Staab as the Invisible Woman, Jay Underwood as the Human Torch, Michael Bailey Smith as Ben Grimm (with Carl Ciarfalio as the Thing), and Joseph Culp as Dr. Doom. “Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight” director Oley Sassone was brought in as the director.
The production schedule was rushed, and Stan Lee even publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the direction that the project was taking. After some marketing materials were released, the film was given a tentative release date of January 19, 1994. It was set to debut at a charitable event at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. However, the premiere was halted at the last minute, and the film was permanently shelved. It never received a proper release, although there are bootlegs online.
The Thing Walks Around New York Wearing Only A Trench Coat — Fantastic Four (2005)
Among the few things that 2005’s “Fantastic Four” should be praised for is the casting of Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm. Although the film does its characters a disservice, Ben is the heart of the movie. He struggles to adjust to his new rocky body and finds that he is not accepted back into society like his friends. Ben comes into conflict with Johnny Storm, who uses his powers to gain the attention of the media. It’s a cold reminder of the life that Ben will never have.
Although the film tries to treat Ben with respect, one of the more emotional scenes in the movie is nearly ruined by a ridiculous conceit. After the astronauts return to Earth, Ben is forced to reveal himself to his fiancee, Debbie McIlvane (Laurie Holden). She cannot bear to see his new body and cancels their engagement. This should be a heartbreaking moment, but it takes place in the middle of New York City late at night. Somehow, Ben can walk around in public with only a trench coat and hat to disguise himself. Even during the evening, wouldn’t he have attracted suspicion?
Thankfully, Ben ultimately finds love when he meets Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington). Alicia accepts him for who he is, and Ben begins to take pride in his new identity. He learns to love himself.
A Frozen Dr. Doom Is Sent Back To Latveria — Fantastic Four (2005)
Dr. Victor Von Doom is the most iconic character in the Fantastic Four’s rogue’s gallery. While the comics often depict Doom as the monarch of the fictional country of Latveria, the 2005 film reimagined him as the CEO of Von Doom Industries. Julian McMahon has fun chewing the scenery as Reed Richard’s archnemesis. Doom’s company funds the initial space mission that goes awry, granting Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny their powers.
However, Doom begins to experiment with his powers when he realizes that he can influence electricity. After taking on his evil moniker, Doom sets out to rid the world of the Fantastic Four once and for all. While he nearly succeeds, the team ends up settling their differences and uniting to stop him. During a chaotic battle in New York City, Johnny adds his heat to a force field created by Sue. Reed and Ben soak Doom in water, freezing him in place. This makes enough sense in the logic of a comic book movie.
What’s completely confusing is that Doom’s frozen body is then shipped away to his homeland in Latveria. Why would the police not check his vital signs to see if he was still alive? Wouldn’t the authorities want to study the remains of a crazed supervillain who had just tried to wreak havoc in the middle of the city?
Johnny Survives A Fall From The Stratosphere — Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
2007’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” is a significant improvement from its predecessor. While the first film spent was laborious in detailing the characters’ origin story, the sequel gets straight into the action. Since the characters now have confidence in their abilities, they aren’t afraid to show off their powers in public. Unfortunately, this attracts a lot of unwanted attention from the media. Reed and Sue’s marriage ceremony is dubbed the “wedding of the century.”
However, the couple’s first attempt at courtship goes awry when the Silver Surfer shows up. Reed commands Johnny to chase after the enigmatic alien so they can find out where he came from and what his intentions are. After chasing the Surfer throughout the city, Johnny pursues his new rival into the atmosphere. The Surfer grabs him by the neck and tosses him back to the surface. Johnny somehow manages to survive falling to earth and landing in a desert in the Middle East.
The films established that Johnny can survive critical damage after he lights up in flame. However, there’s a point where he really should have shown some signs of sustaining injuries. He’s nearly choked to death and is only barely able to reignite his powers before he lands in the desert, where he’s discovered by travelers. Yes, Johnny’s abilities make him powerful, but do they grant him immortality, too?
The Silver Surfer’s Blast Heals Doom — Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
After being transported to Latveria at the end of the first film, Doom breaks out of his frozen prison when the cosmic energy created by the Silver Surfer causes chaotic weather changes around the globe. Doom immediately plots to get revenge on Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny for defeating him the first time. After seeing what the Surfer can do, Doom doesn’t see a threat to humanity. He sees a potential new ally.
Doom uses his scientific knowledge to track the Silver Surfer down to the Russell Glacier. He asks the mysterious alien to join, as together they might be strong enough to bring down the Fantastic Four once and for all. The Silver Surfer isn’t interested. He already serves his master, Galactus. After he turns away, Doom attacks the Silver Surfer with an electric blast to get his attention. The Silver Surfer promptly turns around and uses his power to knock Doom to the ground.
We see earlier in the film how powerful the Silver Surfer’s blasts are. Somehow, instead of killing Doom, this blast heals his body. Yes, Doom’s body is partially metallic, but he still has human flesh. Even if he was initially freed by the Surfer’s cosmic energy, it makes no sense that he would somehow be instantly revived. Doom returns to prominence and plans to steal the Silver Surfer’s board.
General Hager Decides To Trust Doom — Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Reed Richards is torn between his superhero duties and personal responsibilities in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Although he begins to study how the Surfer’s cosmic energy has affected global weather patterns, Reed decides to set aside his analysis until after his wedding to Sue. This incites the anger of General Hager (Andre Braugher), a U.S. military official who hopes that Reed can help him study the anomalies. Even though he’s upset with Reed, Hager’s next alliance makes absolutely no sense.
Doom records the video of his encounter with the Surfer and brings it to the U.S. military. He allies with Hager, who believes that Reed and Doom can work together to track down the Surfer’s location. Hager somehow forgets that Doom has just attacked New York City and caused significant damage. Doom should have been sent to prison as soon as he reentered the United States. On top of that, Doom has just shown a video in which he’s trying to ally with the Surfer. Shouldn’t Hager realize that the only thing that Doom desires is the board’s powers?
Although Reed tells Hager that they cannot trust Doom, Hager retorts “The only person I regret trusting is you.” Even though characters in comic book movies make illogical decisions, there’s no reason for Hager to be this petty.
The Silver Surfer Revives Sue But Never Saves Anyone Else — Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
After the Fantastic Four capture the Silver Surfer in the middle of a forest, the alien is imprisoned in a U.S. military facility. Sue turns invisible and questions the Surfer. She is confused as to why he protected her from danger. The Surfer tells her that he has no autonomy over his actions. He is forced to attack Earth by his master, Galactus. The Surfer admits that he decided to save Sue because she reminded him of the woman that he loves.
After Doom takes control of the board, the Fantastic Four decide to track him down and return the board to its rightful owner. If they can stop Doom, then the Surfer might be able to prevent Galactus from consuming Earth. During the chaotic battle, Doom tries to kill the Surfer with a spear. Sue sacrifices herself to save him and falls to the ground. She is left to die of her injuries. However, the Surfer soon takes control of his board and uses his powers to save her. This reveals that he can bring people back from death.
Sue wasn’t just wounded. She stopped breathing and died in Reed’s arms. If the Surfer’s healing abilities are that strong, then why doesn’t he use them to save all the other people that are caught in the crossfire? He clearly has compassion for other people.
Galactus’ Destruction Leaves No Damage On Earth — Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Marvel fans were likely disappointed with the depiction of Galactus in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Galactus has one of the coolest origin stories in the Marvel Universe. In some iterations, Galactus was once a mortal man named Galan, who gained his powers during a deep space voyage. Later versions developed a rich backstory in which Galactus has been alive since before the existence of the universe. Either way, Galactus is one of the most dangerous enemies that the Fantastic Four ever faces.
Unfortunately, “The Rise of the Silver Surfer” turns Galactus into a giant space cloud that consumes entire planets. The cosmic elements of both films aren’t well-developed, but the depiction of Galactus is particularly disappointing. The only thing that the viewer learns about the character is the information that the Silver Surfer shares. After being rescued by Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben, the Surfer decides to rebel against his former master. After he retrieves his board, the Surfer flies towards Galactus and prevents him from destroying Earth.
Galactus can be seen just outside the planet’s atmosphere. However, when the Surfer creates a gigantic explosion that obliterates his oppressor, this seemingly does not affect Earth whatsoever. If the force of the Surfer’s board is enough to cause strange weather patterns, then how does a cosmic explosion leave no damage?
Doom Survives In Planet Zero For Months — Fant4stic (2015)
After plans for a third film in the initial series were abandoned, 20th Century Fox began moving forward with a reboot of the “Fantastic Four” series. Initially, it seemed that fans were in for a treat. The studio hired the brilliant filmmaker Josh Trank, whose breakout hit “Chronicle” proved that he had an interesting perspective on superhero mythology. The film also assembled an exciting young cast. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell are skilled performers whose careers were peaking. Unlike the previous films, Trank’s “Fant4stic” seems closer to a science fiction body horror film.
Unfortunately, studio interference prevented Trank from creating the film that he had in mind. After months of reshoots, Trank publicly distanced himself from the finished film. It’s easy to see why. “Fant4stic” doesn’t completely commit to being a “hard genre” movie, and as a result, there are some confusing plot holes.
One of the interesting ideas in the script was that instead of going to space, the Fantastic Four gain their powers after they travel to a parallel dimension called “Planet Zero.” Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) joins them on the mission, but he’s lost and presumed dead after an accident. Doom has no food or water, but he survives in Planet Zero for months after the Fantastic Four returns home.
Reed Abandons His Friends — Fant4stic (2015)
A strong family dynamic is the most important thing that any “Fantastic Four” movie needs. While the first “Fantastic Four” film and “Rise of the Silver Surfer” have their faults, they at least do a good job at showing how Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben care about each other. Initially, it seems like “Fant4stic” will do this, too. It is established that Reed and Ben have been friends since they were children and have been experimenting with a prototype teleportation device. They are recruited by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), director of the Baxter Foundation, to begin a quantum research project. Reed instantly falls in love with Storm’s daughter, Sue. He tries to bond with her and her brother, Johnny as they begin their research.
The four characters form a tight friendship as they investigate Planet Zero. After their mission goes awry, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben are imprisoned in a government facility so that the military can study their powers. They are each horrified by their new abilities. Even though he is desperate to cure his friends, Reed breaks out of the facility and abandons them.
Theoretically, Reed is looking for a cure for the powers that they’ve all been “cursed” with, but he doesn’t try to communicate with his friends. He goes off to Central America to conduct research before Ben is dispatched to retrieve him.
Reed Richards Isn’t So Smart — Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)
Marvel fans are anxiously looking forward to seeing the Fantastic Four join the MCU. A new “Fantastic Four” film directed by “WandaVision” showrunner Matt Shakman is set to hit theaters in 2024. However, MCU fans got their first tease of the characters thanks to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Unfortunately, a cameo appearance by John Krasinski as Reed Richards was a confusing way to first bring the character into the MCU.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) are captured by Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth-838. Unlike the version of Mordo that Strange knows from his universe, Earth-838’s Mordo is a wise and just hero who leads the powerful team known as the Illuminati. Among Mordo’s allies are Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Blackagar Boltagon (Anson Mount), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), and Reed Richards. Reed is cited as “the smartest man in the universe.”
Even though the Illuminati are supposedly making decisions to protect their world, they chose to execute the version of Strange from Earth-838 to stop him from causing chaos, but that doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t be actively looking for the threat of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). Wanda enters Earth-838 and easily overpowers the Illuminati. Reed isn’t as smart as his reputation suggests. He’s completely blindsided by Wanda’s powers.
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