5 Things we Actually Know About the Fantastic Four Reboot

11/11/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments


One of the incoming comic-book movie adaptations that I've covered the least is the Fantastic 4 reboot, although that can mostly be attributed to the fact that there haven't been any official releases yet.  There's no trailers, promo images, or even an official logo.  There have been a handful of leaked set images, but they are mostly green screen with an off center and out of focus subject.

Nonetheless, fans are finding reasons to hate this movie.  It's an entirely different level of hate compared to what we've seen with other movies, though, with calls for a boycott gaining momentum.

Considering the backlash is so strong over the information that has come out, I think it's appropriate to get a full list of what is actually known, and whether or not it is being interpreted and responded to appropriately.

1. Johnny Storm isn't White (but Sue Storm is)

Likely the first calls for blood started with the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm.  The Storm siblings have traditionally been white, so a lot of people weren't fans of the ethnic switch here.  Anyone that has seen Michael B. Jordan knows he's a phenomenal performer and can nail the Johnny Storm character.

The race card always gets thrown back and forth on this topic, but I'm not going to comment on that.  I don't think the skin color matters unless Johnny Storm has a history as a white supremacist or something.  We're looking for character here, not color.

Difference from the skin tone of the comics aside, the real issue people find is with the casting of Kate Mara as Sue Storm.  Those that don't mind the change in skin color are upset that Johnny and Sue Storm don't share the same skin tone.  Supposedly, it's impossible for blood siblings to have different skin colors (which is in fact, very untrue).

Some more light was shed on this when Reg E. Cathey was cast as Franklin Storm, the father of the Storm children.  This means that (more than likely), Johnny Storm will be a biological child of Franklin and Mrs. Storm, and Sue will be adopted.

The question here is whether or not this will impact the story in any way.  Keep in mind, this is mostly conjecture until we see the movie, but Michael B. Jordan did have something to say about the family themes in the movie during an interview with MTV.
One of the good things about the Fantastic Four is that everybody is different. And it’s like, sometimes family doesn’t always consist of your relatives or by blood. Sometimes your best friends can feel more like family than your cousins.
That quotation makes it sound like the decision to make the Storm siblings adoptive siblings instead of sibling by blood is not just a thing they did for the heck of it, but a plot-centric decision in order to make a statement on what it really means to be family.

 The bottom line here, is that Johnny and Sue may not have been birthed by the same woman, but they were raised by the same people and have as tight of a bond as possible, even though they don't share a skin color.  You would think that goes without saying in 2014, but I've seen things in comment sections...

2. The Script is Not a Direct Comic Adaptation

This one raised another massive stink.  In an interview with Esquire Latinoamerica (as quoted by Screen Rant), Kate Mara responded to a question on whether or not she likes comics:
I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published.  So I chose to follow his instructions. The one fact is I am a fan of comic book movies, so it’s very exciting to be part of a movie like this.
This seemed to be a big affront to the source material, because apparently the writers had no plan to stick to the source material.  There was much fanboy wailing, and many cited the other changes (such as the Michael B. Jordan casting) to support the assertion that this movie has no intention of even resembling the Fantastic Four.

A simple glance at the casting will negate that, though.  The movie is called Fantastic Four, the main characters are Johhny Storm (The Human Torch), Sue Storm (The Invisible Woman), Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), and Ben Grimm (The Thing), along with a few other familiar names from the comics.

What comic book is actually an adaptation anyway?  The Dark Knight Trilogy was a collection of pieces from various comics, as are the Spider-Man movies, and the entire Marvel Shared Universe.  The only comic book movie that could be considered an adaptation could be Watchmen, and maybe 300.

EW reached out to clarify Mara's statements, and (shocker), that's what she meant at the time as well.  Mara's representative clarified: “the film is not based on one comic, but rather drawn from the entire canon.”

So, just like 90% of the most successful comic-book movies (like Guardians of the Galaxy), Fantastic Four is inspired by the source material, but not necessarily bound down by it.

3. Fantastic Four Will be a 'Grounded' Reboot

Like most other movies in the genre, "grounded" and "gritty" tend to be the big buzz words.  It was fairly evident that this was the objective when Chronicle director, Josh Trank, was brought in for the project.

This hasn't been a huge point of contention for fans, outside of how it may affect some of the source material interpretations.  Aesthetically, this version will be a clear departure from the previous Fantastic Four movies.  Miles Teller explained some of the differences in an interview with Vulture.
It’s different in every way. All those actors were a lot older, their characters were in different places. The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.
The comparison to X-Men: First Class is fairly key here.  First Class is a great example of a movie that takes some liberties with the source material, but turns out a superior movie as a result.

The differences go further than just the script, though.  Aesthetically, the movie is looking for a much more gritty look.  Michael B. Jordon went on Good Morning America, and described the new interpretations of the traditionally blue spandex suits
"It's a new look. We are all in containment suits. ... It's gritty. It's a gritty film."


Kate Mara also commented on the tone during and interview with IGN, using the same buzz word:
"I’m not really familiar with the comic books…I picked up a few when I got the part. I think we’re making a very grounded version of a superhero film. I trust Josh Trank’s vision as I was a huge fan of ‘Chronicle.’ "
The comparison to Chronicle is definitely a good place to go, as that's very likely why Josh Trank was brought on board.  A take on the Fantastic Four done in that style could be very successful, but it isn't without risk.  It's an ambitious decision, and we won't get a clear look at how this translates until a trailer is released.

4. Change in Doctor Doom's Origins

The most recent news is also drawing a significant amount of fan hate.  During an interview with Collider for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Toby Kebbel, who plays Doom in Fantastic Four, spoke on some of the changes to the character:
“He’s Victor Domashev, not Victor von Doom in our story. And I’m sure I’ll be sent to jail for telling you that. The Doom in ours—I’m a programmer. Very anti-social programmer. And on blogging sites I’m ‘Doom.’ “
Doctor Doom's traditional bio, is that he is a genius inventor, a sorcerer and the ruler of the fictional nation of Latveria.  The name change isn't necessarily a huge deal, but people are upset that the new Doctor doom will be a "blogger."

First, he doesn't say he's a blogger, so that's just a lapse in reading comprehension.  He says he's known "on blogging sites" as "Doom."  This could mean he comments as Doom, or more likely, bloggers refer to him as Doom when they talk about him.

Also important to note, Doom being a programmer doesn't change a lot about him.  He's always been an inventor, computer programming is just a modern interpretation of that trait.  It's not likely that he's the ruler of Latveria, just because that doesn't seem to jive with the grounded world they are going for, but it's not out of the question.

In fact, earlier in the Collider interview, Kebbel mentioned how much effort he put  into nailing Doom's accent.
The only thing I can tease you about is what I worked on most was the voice because nobody—even in the cartoons, when I was watching them I was like, “So where’s he from?”
If Doom was going to simply be from Russia, or some other nondescript Easter European country, then the accent isn't really anything special.  Going back to something like the cartoons of Doctor Doom says the traditional version of the character is still very central in this interpretation.

5. The Cast and Crew

The cast and crew should speak for itself.  We've already talked about some of the actors, but they are all very accomplished and bring great potential to the movie.  The other side of the camera, however, is what's exciting to my inner geek.  Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank.

Simon Kinberg has been a huge voice in the reinvention of the X-Men franchise, and will also play a big role in the Star Wars Universe, writing and producing Star Wars Rebels (and likely to be involved cinematically down the road).  Basically, he's doing great things for properties geeks care about.

Josh Trank is also fairly new to the scene, but Chronicle mad a big splash, and likely has a lot to do with him the Fantastic Four job, as well as a Star Wars spinoff.  Just because he doesn't have a lot of credits under his name doesn't mean he can't handle a project like this, though.  During an interview with Collider, Simon Kinberg praised Trank's vision and command on set.
The energy on set is great. Josh Trank is fantastic on set. Really in command, really clear, and the thing that is most unique or defining about the new Fantastic Four is the tone. We’re approaching it in a much more realistic, grounded, science rather than science-fiction way.
That's really all we know at this time.  There's a lot of talk about tone, direction, themes, and etc, but there's not a lot to go on.  Checking out any comments section would suggest everyone's already seen the movie, though.

The same thing happened with X-Men: Days of Future Past (but maybe to a lesser degree), and that movie turned out quite well.

Most of the hate is based on fan conjecture, using quotations without context, and the fanboys have really got the cart before the horse here.  Maybe the movie will turn out poorly.  Maybe it won't.  I think it's reasonable to wait for a trailer before throwing stones, though.

With less than 10 months until the release date, it's high time for a trailer.  There's no official date for a trailer, but Kinberg says it isn't far off, they just want to nail it with the first reveal.  Not that they have much of an option with all the fan hate.

Speaking to Comicbook.com, Kinberg said
“We’re putting it together now, and one of the important things, because this ‘Fantastic Four’ is a reboot, and is such a different tonality and vibe from those other films, we want to make sure that the first thing we put out really expresses the voice of the movie, and isn’t compromised by not having visual effects ready, or anything like that.”
Hopefully that means before the end of the year.

Maybe it's too much to ask, but if fanboys could just hold off on the raging until then, I think we'll have a much clearer idea about what we'll see next August than we have with all this speculation.

Fantastic Four will hit theaters on August 7th 2015 


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