Saturday, December 24, 2016

MCU Fantastic Four Dreams

So with the Marvel Cinematic Universe gaining Spider-Man after his last solo movie at Sony underperformed, fans are asking when the Fantastic Four will come home to Marvel Studios.

Marvel licensed out the Fantastic Four to Constantin Film back in 1986 and has been kept out of Marvel's hands ever since. In order to retain their rights, Constantin commissioned producer Roger Corman to make a film on a shoestring budget that was set to be released in 1994. The film's release was cancelled and in order to extend their deal again, Constantin signed a new deal with 20th Century Fox, who would help them release a pair of Fantastic Four films in 2005 and 2007. The films made money, but didn't strike big with critics and the lower returns on the second film made Fox cancel plans for a third film and a Silver Surfer spinoff.

Fox announced they would reboot the series, but didn't get started until late 2014, when their option on the rights nearly expired. The 2015 Fantastic Four film strayed far from what fans expected for such a film and what audiences expected for a movie about a superhero team and wound up with a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was estimated to have lost the studio at least $80 million.

So, fans ask, after thirty years and four movies that can't be called masterpieces, isn't it time the rights went back? While there are rumors of Fox and Marvel working out a deal and news that the studios have cooperated recently, the only thing we can count on is the rights staying with Constantin and Fox until about 2022, unless Fox makes another film. My warning to fans is that unless Marvel announces the rights have been returned to them or they've worked out a deal, assume the rights are still with Fox and Constantin.

That said, until Fox decides to make a proper Fantastic Four movie or Marvel gets the right back, we can dream up our ideal film version of Marvel's first family.

First off, we need a cast that can embody the FF. For Reed Richards, previous versions have focused their casting on Reed being the brains of the group. However, in the classic comics, Reed is also a very attractive gentleman. So, my suggestion for a Reed who can be smart, attractive and heroic is Matt Bomer. Bomer's eyes can be very expressive and it's easy to imagine him getting lost in his work and forgetting previous engagements.
Also, he already has close scenes with Bruce Banner...

For Susan Storm, I suggest Kristen Bell. She looks the part and has a track record of playing indominatable female characters. She could easily be the one who has to remind Reed to shut off whatever he's working on and come actually interact with people, put Johnny in his place or listen to Reed while also kicking Doctor Doom's ass.

For Johnny, my main pick is Dylan Sprayberry. Despite a huge age difference between him and Kristen Bell, Johnny is supposed to be hot-headed, arrogant younger man. In the original comics, he was a teenager. Sprayberry is currently 18, and chances are, by the time a Fantastic Four movie would get rolling, he'd be a bit older. Still, I think he'd embody the character very well. Johnny should clearly be the youngest member of the group and should also be able to hold his own.

For Ben Grimm, I've been a little loose, but one I think could handle the role well is John Krasinski. Ben Grimm is an astronaut as well as a tough guy who happens to also be quite handsome. Of course, most of the time, we'll see Ben as The Thing, who has to deal with the fact that he doesn't look like a normal human being anymore. Not only do I think John could pull off Ben in human form, I think he could also portray the Thing with all the bravado, tenderness, tragedy, humor and gusto the character requires.

I'm not so dead set on the supporting cast. Alicia Masters, perhaps John Krasinski's real wife, Emily Blunt. Maybe if Taylor Lautner could bulk up a little, he could play Wyatt Wingfoot. The Mole Man, I think Johnny Galecki could handle the role. Just about any capable actor could play Uatu the Watcher, Galactus or the Silver Surfer.

For Doctor Doom, I had an idea where Victor could be much younger than Reed and instead of being a fellow student, he IS Reed's student as Reed lectures on the science he works in. For this version, he could be played by Matt Smith. However, for a more traditional Doctor Doom, get Luke Evans.

My idea for an MCU Fantastic Four trilogy would see the Fantastic Four's origin told briefly in the first film's opening moments, then scatter the team around so they have to come together when it's time to get on a task: Johnny is at college, Ben lives with his girlfriend Alicia, Reed works at the Baxter Building while Sue manages the business there.

In most of the comics and the first three film versions, the origin of the Fantastic Four has them go to space and have an accident when hit with cosmic radiation and they'd crash land back on earth and discover their new fantastic powers. The latest film version and the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics change it to Reed cracking teleportation to an alternate universe and his work gets noticed by the Baxter Foundation, who help develop it on a bigger scale. The human test teleportation meets with an accident, giving the FF their powers.

I think we should stick to the original origin in general, but update it. It was, of course, the space race back in 1961, but today, Reed would simply be trying to further space exploration more than ever before. Not only is this a simple way to update the classic origin, it's in line with what scientists are looking into doing right now.

The first two films would see the Fantastic Four face the Mole Man and Annihilus while building up to a big Doctor Doom story in the third film. HERBIE the robot could be retooled as a guidance system/AI robot in the spacecraft and become separate from it during the cosmic rays bombardment. HERBIE would be destroyed during the Annihilus story as it's revealed that his programming was scrambled by exposure to Negative Zone energy and was actually working to let the Negative Zone's creatures invade Earth.

Galactus and the Silver Surfer are also built up over the trilogy, but the threat they pose would be better served as a major Marvel team up event movie.

To close, I'd like to quote from an interview with one of the hosts of the Fanasticast, Andrew Leyland on "The FF are deceptively simple to get right: Reed is a two fisted genius in the Indiana Jones mold, constantly curious, always learning but not afraid to roll up his sleeves and punch somebody should the need arise. Ben is a hotshot fighter pilot with a heart of gold who suffered the greatest due to the cosmic rays and is therefore a very tragic figure. He’s a matinee idol trapped in a monster’s form. Johnny is the cocky jock teenager who probably reminds Ben of himself which is why they rub each other the wrong way. But they love each other like brothers. Sue is the glue that holds the team together. She’s Reed’s Wife, Johnny’s sister and Ben’s best friend as well as being a competent scientist in her own right and the head of FF Inc. She’s arguably the most powerful member of the team yet its most caring. Together they explore both inner and outer space, striving to push the boundaries of humanity’s knowledge whilst still arguing over whose turn it is to cook dinner. How is that not a winner?"

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