So not entirely unexpectedly, some Newsarama readers and fellow comic book fans didn’t take much of a shine to an OP/ED piece I wrote the other day suggesting the collective condemnation of 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot may be a bit premature.
My argument contained some holes, some readers argued, to which I’d respectfully… agree (fooled you there, didn’t I?). Due to an effort to be succinct and to stay on point there were admittedly some points I didn’t expand on as much as would have originally liked.
That all said, I stand by the premise – none of us have seen Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, none of know much about Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, and Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four doesn’t have to be a faithful adaptation of the 616 comic book to be a worthwhile moviegoing experience.
But I’d still like to revisit a couple of key points.
Many fans argue that what’s best for the Fantastic Four and fans of the Fantastic Four would be for Marvel Studios to regain the big screen rights to the property, and spin their increasingly flawless movie magic to get it right and give us all the Fantastic Four movie we deserve.
Fans are hoping Fox’s reboot fails and IMHO are trying to promote the perception that it’ll fail with this goal in mind.
Here’s the problem – that argument is rooted in thinking like hardcore fans and not thinking like bottom-line movie executives.
If Trank’s FF bombs (as spectacularly as many fans hope it will) that likelihood Marvel Studios give the FF its FOURTH film and SECOND reboot are remote for the foreseeable future. I’m talking like well into the 2020s foreseeable future at minimum.
Look at what Marvel has done with the rights it’s gotten back for Ghost Rider, The Punisher and Blade …
…nothing… with no known plans or hints of any plans to do anything with them in the future. They’re astutely putting those properties away in their back pockets for who knows how long. The only property they’ve regained that we know of any plans for with is Daredevil – a reboot of adecade-old film series of one as a TV series.
Again, if Fox’s FF tanks, no one is seeing another FF movie any time soon from anyone. A reboot so soon after their first two films is already a dicey proposition for Fox. A failure will make the property radioactive for years for everyone.
Bear in mind, by the time August, 2015 rolls around, the Fantastic Four will already have had more feature films than the Avengers, the Justice League, the Teen Titans, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Doom Patrol, the Defenders, the New Warriors, and the Suicide Squad (I could go on) combined…
Fans like all of us would maybe give a fourth FF a try, and yes, the Marvel brand is strong right now, but less hardcore moviegoers (particularly those in the increasingly important foreign markets) are only so forgiving, and no studio is going to ask them to sample yet another FF again for a long while.
Marvel Studios has already proved it can take a property with practically zero brand equity and turn it into a monster global hit. It’s doubtful Marvel Studios will be so motivated by one-upmanship to remake the FF to prove that they can.
Now I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the issue of just the mere existence of a film not to our personal tastes, because I don’t have a lot of time (or any patience) for that argument.
If Trank’s FF stinks, I might not see it. If I see it and I don’t like it I just won’t see it again. But my co-existence in the universe with something I don’t happen to like or think is good isn’t a problem for me.
I’ve seen Star Wars IV-VI dozens of times each. I’ve seen Star Wars I-III once each and I'll likely never see them again ... and I can live with that just fine.
So moving on, I’m not taking the bait and getting into the Johnny Storm “issue.” I personally don’t see a problem here, and find it somewhat distressing this is anything more than a minor issue of preference for anyone, but I will address the issue of “changing” familiar - some would argue essential - character traits and concepts from established comic book mythos. I will point out, very briefly, that anyone who equates this with changing the race of an established real-life historical figure like George Washington needs to seriously consider the line that divides our world and our imaginations.
So let’s combine the two main points we’ve discussed here – some fans want Marvel Studios to regain the property to do it the justice the universe deserves, presumably but not altering any key elements of the property. Okay, cool. Let’s wrap this up then by listing some alterations Marvel Studios have made to some of the characters we know and love (and this isn't criticism by any means - more power to them - it's observation).
Pull up a chair and get a refreshing beverage – this may take a while...
Howard Stark assisted Dr. Erskine in creating the super-solider process, and invented Captain America’s shield.
Bucky was an adult.
Captain America slept through such formative American events as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, Watergate, the Cold War, not one, but two Gulf Wars, 9/11, and the election of the first black President (think that might change a guy?)
The Hulk wasn’t created by a Gamma Bomb accident, but through an attempt to recreate the super-solider program.
Nick Fury didn’t serve in WWII, and is, you know... black.
Tony Stark is a hyper-witted, motor-mouthed smart aleck (something not seen in the comics before the films).
Pepper Potts is the love of Tony’s life, instead of being the love of Happy Hogan’s life.
Thor was never Donald Blake. He didn’t learn humility over decades by serving mankind as a physically challenged doctor over the course of an Earth lifetime…
Instead, this member of a race with 4000-year lifespans, and who would’ve presumably been an arrogant, immature, warmonger for no less than 1000 of those Earth years, satisfied Odin’s decree that he prove himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir over the course of an Earth weekend in New Mexico, with one of his defining newly selfless acts being serving Darcy and Erik breakfast.
Jane Foster isn’t a nurse, but an astrophysicist.
Heimdell is… you know… black
S.H.I.E.L.D. had their hand in everything including conceiving the Avengers…
…which neither Henry Pym nor Janet Van Dyne took part in.
Dr. Pym is neither a contemporary of the Avengers nor the creator of Ultron.
Jarvis is a computer program (though a butler version is being introduced in the 40s on Agent Carter).
Hawkeye is a government operative rather than a former villainous circus performer.
The Falcon is ex-paramilitary rather than an inner city social worker that once worked for the mob.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are not mutants and not the daughter and son of Magneto.
It’s a pretty safe bet Simon Williams will have nothing to do with the creation of the Vision, and Dr. Horton’s android might not either.
Not a single superhero has a secret identity.
The Mandarin was a British actor.
Movie Star-Lord is more or less nothing resembling his original incarnation or even much of his more contemporary revived incarnation.
Drax wasn’t really a former deceased Earthling resurrected and recreated to destroy Thanos.
That Drax doesn’t understand sarcasm and expressions is solely a creation of the movie.
Nebula is Thanos’s daughter instead of granddaughter.
Whew, still with us? That’s probably about 1/10th of what we could come up with if we really took some time.
Yes, a few of those things we mentioned might be a change from the 616 universe but at least were established in the Ultimate Universe before being adapted to film.
And the Ultimate FF are much younger than their 616 counterparts.
So what are we talking about again..?