Sequel Saturday: The Fantastic Forlorn, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
After being trashed by movie blogs and the trades with a boatload of bad rumors, Fox released the teaser trailer for their next superhero movie, The Fantastic Four. The film is less than seven months from release and this is the first teaser of any kind. Aside from the lucrative X-Men, the Fantastic Four is the only other Marvel property Fox has the rights to. They want to have the Fantastic Four and the X-Men be in their same “Fox Marvel Cinematic Universe” so they can have their own cadre of spin-offs, sequels, and crossovers.
The teaser is quite the 180 in tone from what we got from Fox’s earlier stab at the franchise in 2005 and 2007. The light, fun family tone is replaced by a dark dour voice-over, reminding me of the self importance of the political allegory present in Bryan Singer’s very first X-Men film. Director Josh Trank (Chronicle) picked a much younger cast, none of whom I recognize save for Jamie Bell (Nymphomaniac: Vol. II) as The Thing.
I hope Trank took a good hard look at the story problems of director Tim Story’s (Think Like A Man Too) first Fantastic Four flick. You have five origin stories to deal with (Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, The Thing, and Dr. Doom) here, so you have to set up five characters with some sort of arc that changes as they gain powers and become a hero. On top of that, you need to build some sort of confrontation with the villain Dr. Doom that will be spectacular even though the heroes fighting him are nothing but newbies. The climactic battle in Story’s film was a big old wet noodle, undercutting any sort of intensity the film was attempting to bring up to that point.
Why do we need origin stories in superhero films? They are often not interesting. The audience just wants to get to the explosions as fast as possible. Most origin stories could be covered with a good monologue. Little birdies on the information superhighway chirp about radical changes to the characters and plot with this Fantastic Four reboot. We’ll have to see when the film comes out how it turns out. I’m getting a whiff of desperation from the trailer. The scent’s the same that wafted from Sony’s trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man.