A More Fantastic Four?

Several years ago my brother-in-law and I were talking about 20th Century Fox’s original attempt at a Fantastic Four movie. We weren’t particularly impressed.

Two films on, I’m still not. I can’t help thinking the studio and filmmakers are missing the point, especially with Josh Trank’s Dark And Gritty take on the material. I wasn’t a fan of his Chronicle – when you’re telling a story about a good kid corrupted by power, it helps a little if your tragic hero’s not already a jerk to begin with – so I decided early on to sit this one out. Something tells me I made the right call.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The conversation I’m remembering took place before that was ever an idea. Doug and I were talking about what we thought that earlier film missed.

For us, the hook of Fantastic Four isn’t the superpowers. It isn’t the catchphrases. It isn’t the family relationships. It’s the fact that Reed and Sue and Johnny and Ben are celebrities, famous for being superheroes. That concept is a cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, with Robert Downey Jr. as an Iron Man tailor-made for reality TV. But in 2005, it wasn’t so easily accepted.

Before Tim Story directed those first two Fantastic 4 movies, Peyton Reed was attached, and he’d wanted to make a kind of superhero Hard Day’s Night, a film that actually dealt with their fame. It would have been silly, it would have been fun, and it probably would have set off a torrent of nerd rage. As it was, when word got out, I do recall some outcry from fans who were upset at the idea that Reed wasn’t taking their heroes seriously. (Between that and fanboy demands that Spider-Man 3 include Venom, this is why we can’t have nice things.)

But I LIKED that idea. So did Doug. And we thought it could have salvaged the franchise.

Which led to our own idea for a Fantastic 4 sequel.

We’d have opened with the ending of the previous film. The team does their thing and manages to get Doctor Doom frozen in his own suit… when the Thing (played by an entirely different actor, and in much better makeup) shuts off the TV and says, “Who wrote this crap?”

And with that, we’d have been off to watch a new cast romp through New York, fighting evil, dealing with groupies and paparazzi, and just generally trying to live their lives in the spotlight. Maybe we would have thrown in Johnny and Sue’s clean grandfather.

Of course Doctor Doom would have been there too, with some manner of plot to take over the world. But I would have thrown in a subplot where he sues Fox for defamation over his portrayal in the previous film. And wins.

Granted, this was just me and Doug talking off the top of our heads. It wasn’t much more than a notion. But looking back, it really wasn’t such a bad idea.

And maybe it would have worked.

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