Are some properties cursed? Looking at the Fantastic Four one might come to that conclusion. This is the fourth Fantastic Four movie and yet a good one has still to be made. After seeing how Marvel turned its own concepts like Iron Man and Ant-Man into successful movies, the same must be possible for the Fantastic Four, but this movie isn’t it. The main problem lies with why this movie was made: Despite artistic powers at work in the creation of movies this type of movie is made to make a profit first and foremost, but there is something else at play here as to why this movie was made and that is the rights to the property.
When a movie studio licenses a property from a publisher like Marvel they are allowed to make movies revolving around this property. These licenses are almost always set up in such a way that as long as a studio keeps on making movies about the property the license doesn’t expire. There’s also a clause that states that should a studio fail to produce a movie within a set time span the rights to the property go back to the publisher who is then free to do whatever they want with it. This is why we recently got a reboot of Spider-Man and now the Fantastic Four.
This being a reboot of the Fantastic Four property it marks the third time we get to see the origin story depicted on screen and also the third time Dr. Doom is the main villain. The first time was a never released movie made in 1994 which can be found online of you know where to look for it. The second time was a big studio production in 2005 which was a rather goofy and colorful affair as most comic book movies where before Christopher Nolan produced a realistic and grim Batman franchise. As you can tell by just looking at the poster for this movie, they chose to make this movie dark and serious as well.
The story of the Fantastic Four is pretty simple and similar in every origin movie; four people go up into space where something disastrous happens and they come into contact with some otherworldly element which gives each of them a unique power: Reed Richards is a scientist who can stretch every part of his body, Sue Storm can become invisible, her brother Johnny Storm becomes the human torch and Ben Grimm turns into a giant made entirely out of rocks. There’s also Victor von Doom who turns into Dr. Doom due to something which is different in every movie. In this movie he’s also a part of the mission and therefor comes into contact with the same element as the others do. They have to leave him for dead in this alternate universe somewhere in the galaxy, only for him to eventually return all deformed and evil. He becomes a former friend turned nemesis for our four heroes giving them actually something to do.
This Fantastic Four movie might be the worst of all, and that’s saying something considering how bad the never released 1994 movie was. It starts off pretty decent making you hopeful it isn’t as bad as the buzz surrounding this movie suggests, but as soon as Reed ends up in the Baxter building and meets Sue it becomes quite clear that everything you feared for is true. There is no chemistry between Reed and Sue, which there should since they’re destined to become husband and wife. Reed is portrayed by Miles Teller as a nerd who only has eyes for science and not girls. Sue is a cold and rather emotionless persona played by Kate Mara who actually makes the previous Sue, Jessica Alba, seem like a good interpretation of the character. There’s also her brother Johnny played by Michael B. Jordan who also has no connection the audience can actually feel to the rest of the cast. These four actors seem so mismatched and it’s part due to casting choices, but also the script which doesn’t supply them with decent material.
The movie completely falls apart quickly after they have their powers. Instead of developing every character from the moment they have become “fantastic”, the movie just skips to one year later when Reed has gone of the grid and the rest is working for the government doing covert ops. While Sue and Johnny have pretty cool powers, The Thing (Ben) could be used to create a complex character who has to deal with his changed exterior and lack of reproduction organs. In the comics his appearance has been the source of more adult story lines about trying to fit into a society obsessed with looks. It would fit the tone and style of this movie, but they have reduced Ben to a carefree rock version of Rambo. No depth whatsoever.
The final nail in the coffin comes during the final act when Dr. Doom is introduced. He bares no resemblance to his comic book counter part. Instead of a disfigured brilliant megalomaniac, they turned him into some metal crash test dummy with a wide variety of powers who seems to be bent on destroying the Earth for no good reason. I wasn’t sure what he want wanted and why, but by the time he showed up I hardly cared.
The only possible salvation for the Fantastic Four at this point is that the rights go back to the folks at Marvel who then make a movie themselves. Otherwise this franchise is, dare I say it, “doomed”.