I saw the movie Fantastic Four this weekend. While it certainly wasn’t one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen, I enjoyed watching it. Based on the reviews as well as the reactions of the people I saw it with, I was one of the few people who felt that way.
Reportedly, director Josh Trank was one of the people who didn’t like the movie. The rumors are that he wanted to make the movie one way, and executives from the studio forced several changes.
You can see what Trank was trying to do. He seemingly wanted to make the movie similar to one of his previous films, Chronicle. It looked like he wanted to make a somewhat dark movie about the Fantastic Four learning about and dealing with their powers.
At some point, Fox executives probably saw what he was doing and asked, “Um, where are the big special effects scenes?”
While Trank’s vision might have made for a good movie, I don’t know if it would have commercially viable. When people go to see movies based on Marvel comic books, they expect bright, fun movies with lots of big fights and special effects. Fantastic Four is often regarded as one of the more “fun” comic books around, so I’m not sure trying a darker tone was ever a great idea.
I will admit that the movie could have better. And after giving it some thought, I came up with a few ways in which it could have been improved.
Warning: The following contains spoilers and assumes that the reader has seen the movie.
Break up the origin story
By nature, superhero origin stories can be somewhat boring. The hero doesn’t usually gain his superpowers or become heroic until at least a third of the way in. Which means we spend a good chunk of the movie following the life of an ordinary human.
To avoid this problem, they could have broken up the linear structure of the movie a bit. Throughout the origin sequence, supply a few flash forwards of “government footage” of each of the Four using their powers in battle, so that we could have gotten a little taste of action.
Add some intrigue to the teleporter experiment
If you asked someone unfamiliar with the comic what this movie was about, they’d probably say it was about a group of scientists creating a teleporter. If that was going to be the focus, they should have added a bit of intrigue.
Perhaps they should have made the teleporter seem dangerous, and raised the question of whether or not they should be trying to use it at all. This role would have given Sue Storm something more to do than provide a slight point of conflict between Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom. She could have been wary of using the teleporter, mainly because she knows something that the others do not. (More on this later)
Don’t make Doctor Doom the villain
In the comics, the Fantastic Four’s arch-villain is Doctor Doom. So it makes sense that
they’d want to make him the team’s primary villain. But from what I’ve read, fans of DD are understandably unhappy about his portrayal in the movie.
I actually liked the portrayal of Doom in the first half. He was an arrogant young scientist who had a temper and a slight rivalry with Reed Richards. But making him into a telekenetic zombie who wants to destroy Earth? That doesn’t exactly sync with the traditional portrayal of Doom.
After they use the teleporter, don’t have Victor get trapped in the other dimension. Instead, have him return with the others, but after the explosion, he vanishes. He is presumed dead, but the body is never found. (Setting up the sequel of course!)
So then who is the villain?
In the first half of the movie, there should be several hints that this isn’t the first time Franklin Storm has tried to visit the other dimension. (Hence Sue’s hesitance to repeat the experiment) Eventually, the entire story is revealed.
Storm used to partner with a man named Arthur Molekevich (Known in the comics as Mole Man). Molekevich was concerned with the way Earth’s resources were being consumed, and hoped that the experiment would give them ideas as to how they could reverse the damage.
Storm and Molekevich successfully created a teleporter, and visited the other dimension. It should be implied that the energy there affected Molekevich. He then became paranoid and convinced that the government was just going to destroy another world. As a result, he destroyed most of the group’s research, and transported himself to the other dimension, leaving no way for anyone to follow him.
When Reed, Johnny, Ben, and Victor travel to the other dimension, they encounter Molekevich. He tells them that he’s been infused with the world’s power and it has allowed him to create life. The four become worried when Molekevich conjures up various monster-like creatures who obey his command. When they attempt to leave, Molekevich tries to stop them, and that results in the explosion that grants them their powers.
Molekevich realizes that now that the teleporter has been rebuilt, people aren’t going to stop coming. He decides the only way to save his new world is by destroying Earth.
In my opinion, that would tie in with the overall theme of the movie better than having Doom simply go insane.
Don’t forget the team dynamic
If you’re going to make a movie about a super hero team, then you’ve got to actually show them come together and work as a team. That aspect was sorely missing from the movie.
What do you think? Would those changes have made the movie better? Or would it still be savaged by reviewers?