The production has been so secretive that nobody outside of the making of Fox’s new take on the Fantastic Four knows exactly what the flick is going to look like or be about, but it’s possible that we’ve already got a blueprint for the Four’s reboot. If you know where to look, that is.
With its X-Men movie franchise now appearing to turn out quality pictures, Fox is looking to make Marvel’s Fantastic Four into an equally bankable property. There hasn’t been much leaked from the production, and that has fans of the Fantastic Four worried.
Adding to those worries have been some of the things people affiliated with the film have said about the new Fantastic Four reboot. For one, the new FF movie will apparently have Johnny and Sue Storm as adopted siblings rather than blood relations, a move that has some fans howling.
Add to that some commentary from Miles Teller, who plays Reed Richards, saying that the story will be told “in a different way,” without a “kitschy, overly comic-book world,” and your average Fantastic Four fan probably just fainted. And that’s not even mentioning Michael B. Jordan’s recent remarks about the Four all in “containment suits” in what he classified as a “gritty film.”
So what could Fox possibly be crafting for a new take on Marvel’s Fantastic Four? It might be the case that the “gritty” nature of the Four was already set out in another comic, but not a Marvel comic.
Starting back in 1999, Wildstorm comics began publishing Planetary. We won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that Planetary was an amazing journey through the history of comics, expertly written by noted internet madman Warren Ellis and beautifully illustrated by John Cassaday. If you haven’t read it already, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
The main villains in Planetary are a group of former adventurers who went into space, encountered a portal between universes, and returned from their journey much changed. They’re known as the Four.
The leader of the Four is Randal Dowling, creator of Science City Zero. A brilliant scientist, Dowling comes up with the plan to launch the Four into space, and he comes back with the ability to “stretch” his mind, allowing him to steal information from others.
Next up is Kim Süskind, daughter of a Nazi rocket scientist and Dowling’s lover. Kim is able to turn herself invisible and project invisible force fields.
Alongside those two, there’s William Leather, a hothead who comes back from the Four’s journey with the ability to project a fire-like energy from his body, as well as some other super skills.
Finally, there’s Jacob Greene, the pilot who flew the mission that took the Four into space. Greene faired worst of all of the Four, mutating into an incredibly durable but hideously disfigured monster.
So, a stretchy guy, a woman that turns invisible, a hothead fire guy, and a tough, rocky monster. Sound familiar? They should; the Four were, of course, based on Marvel’s Fantastic Four, mimicking the powers of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing.
What does all this have to do with Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot? Well, think back to what Jordan said about “containment suits” and a “gritty” take on the Fantastic Four. Jordan also had a peculiar way of referring to the Fantastic Four’s fantastic abilities.
“We’re more or less a bunch of kids that had an accident,” Jordan said to MTV News back in July, “and we have disabilities now that we have to cope with, and try to find a life afterwards – try to be as normal as we can.”
“Disabilities,” eh? One thing about the way that the Four are portrayed in Planetary is that they’re not all totally happy with their powers. Süskind can turn invisible, sure, but she also loses the ability to see – because the light isn’t absorbed by her eyes, because they’re transparent, because science! – unless she uses special goggles. Greene, of course, is near indestructible, but so deformed that he can’t live among people.
It’s possible that the more “grounded” approach Fox keeps talking about for the new Fantastic Four could be rooted in the twisted funhouse mirror version seen in Ellis’ Planetary. Not that Jordan, Mara, et al would be villains, per se, but that their powers won’t be exactly the way fans are expecting them to be having read the comics.
And that could be a good thing, because – frankly – the Fantastic Four are kind of silly. That shows through in the rather lackluster reception the two previous Fantastic Four films got; neither was a bomb, but nobody has been clamoring for Michael Chiklis to put his Thing costume back on, eh?
Of course, this is all just conjecture, as nobody knows what the Fantastic Four will look like when they take the screen late next summer. Still, taking a page from some other comics and avoiding the happy-go-lucky, shiny look of the previous films could be exactly what Fox needs to do to turn the Four into a household name.