Friday, February 21, 2014

FANTASTIC FOUREVER: Fox Names Teller, Mara, Bell and Jordan As 'The World's Greatest Comic Movie Team'

When The Chronicle launched three teens into the skies and watched them fall from grace, no one could have picked that the director Josh Trank and one of the indie budget blockbuster's lead stars, Michael B. Jordan, would later be named as the director to reboot The Fantastic Four and the man to play The Human Torch respectively. Today those picks were plucked - Jordan will be Johnny Storm in Trank's Fantastic Four reboot for Fox.

For those with scorecards, the remaining roles trip out like this: Kate Mara is Sue Storm, Jamie Bell is Ben Grimm and Miles Teller will be the next Mr Fantastic.

Not that the new Fantastic Four will be heading into the skies or even space. Fox's first opening moves on the relaunch of Marvel's first franchise is tightly aligned with writer Mark Millar's Ultimate Fantastic Four run, especially in the age of it's core cast. And in that book, the teen team never went into space, they got their powers testing the limits of teleportation equipment. 

While cosmic rays in space may still be on the cards, given that Mark Millar is Fox's head honcho on all things comic, it's likely more twists are to come.

While there are plenty of fans out there thinking 'How are Fox going to spin this', I feel after reading quite a few forums on the issue today the question should rather be 'How are comic fans going to spin what has been our response?' The fact that the news has become an issue of race on some internet sites is pretty disgusting, actually, it's $^$%^$ embarrassing.

Is there as equal concern over whether Jamie Bell is Jewish so he can play comics most famous Jewish son? No. But suddenly a talented actor with a matching 'game time' attitude is cast as the Human Torch and “Johnny Storm isn't black” becomes such a popular catchphrase, I'm almost expecting to see it on bumper stickers.

Heaven forbid they announced the "flaming" super-hero would swap from being a ladies man to a mans man, I'd almost expect some chat-board commentators to start building an ark.

The one catch where this would become an issue for me, would be if Sue and Johnny are no longer siblings, because then it does alter the concepts point of difference; the FF are a family. With adoptive and "blended" families more a part of the modern world than ever, this could really be a chance for the first family of Marvel to grasp the new age rather than stay in the 50's era, where all heroic faces were caucasian.

True I'd love a retro version of the Fantastic Four uplifted directly from the pulp feel of the Lee/Kirby era (or Byrne's), but that's clearly not the direction this boats rowing in. Simon Kinberg is handling the final script rewrite, and as a guy involved in both the Fox X-Men franchise and Disney's Star Wars projects, I'd say he hasn't been employed to burn a license Fox had to rush to maintain into ashes.

Kate Mara, the other confirmed choice outside of Jordan, was exceptional in The Shooter (and any other time she sticks with being a red-head), so whether she is the genius Sue is in Ultimate Fantastic Four or the force of nature of the 616 universe, the character's in safe hands.

Jamie Bell as the Thing, may seem the oddball of the bunch, but if you've not seen Bell in Defiance, with '007' Daniel Craig and 'Sabretooth' Liev Schreiber, you're missing one of the best non-comic films ever. The story of hiding Jews in the woods from Nazi forces, more than shows his acting chops, and is just flat-out awesome cinema all round. If backed by a decent Thing, 'Billy Elliot' could once again do what people thought he couldn't.

Miles Teller I'm looking forward to seeing in action. The youngest cast member playing the oldest face on the team, Mr Fantastic, is different, but having not seen any of his previous work, yet only hearing good things, I'm happy to wait for the trailer.

In comic book films there are it seems two paths to success. Either stick closely to the source material with little deviation (Superman, Spider-Man) or keep the construct and change whatever else as long as you keep the core premise in mind (X-Men: First Class, The Avengers). It's when you lose sight of that core that trouble starts to happen. From where I stand in terms of this Fantastic Four film, it is still clearly in sight.

 What do you think? 


  1. Hear- hear!!!
    It's sickening. This is 2014 and we still have to deal with this shit? It's eye-opening. Now- I despise the Ultimate Fantastic Four... so, I'm not too excited for a movie pulling story elements from it. Still- I was COMPLETELY uninterested in this reboot... until they announced the cast. Now I am so curious to see it- and what they're doing with it and how...
    Also- I hope the rumors are true and Doom is cast as a woman. That would be the cherry on top, to complete this 'What The--?!' film. Then you'll have to deal with all the misogynists as well as the racists... Plus- throw Namor in and have him crush on Reed instead of Sue so all the homophobes can come out of the woodwork too! Fuck it, why not?
    Would have been nice if there was THIS much outrage when Asian characters were cast as white guys... But, see where does it all start or end? I remember hearing people get bent out of shape back when Michael Clarke Duncan was cast as The Kingpin... I was not angry about it- or making racist jokes like most I knew... but even I was like- "...but Kingpin is a white guy in the comics? I don't get it." Then you see the movie and he crushes it! His fight with DD at the end was the best damn part of that flick.
    I remember in my High-school English Literature Class- we were watching the Much Ado About Nothing where Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves play brothers... and some one raised their hand and said "But- he's black. How can they be brothers?" and the teacher replied "They cast talent. Not color." ...Of course- then the argument could be made that if they cast talent- how did Keanu Reeves get hired? -But you get the point.
    When Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman- I saw a few people being crude about her being Israeli... but that was drowned-out by everyone saying she has the wrong body-type to be Wonder Woman. And I agree with that sentiment. I would have rather had someone with a Beth Phoenix type body cast- but then you had all these self-righteous defenders come out saying we were body-shaming her. -A form of reverse fat-shaming, I guess? o_0 Because I don't want Wonder Woman to look like a skinny super-model- that makes me a horrible person in some's eyes. You really just can't win sometimes... I guess we're all terrible to someone for thinking something.
    Anyways, I hope Jamie Bell can turn into The Thing- like in the old cartoon. Or remember how Prime worked in the old Ultraverse comics? But instead of all the slime when he changed back- it would be rubble... And I really enjoyed Chronicle, by the way... so- we'll see how it goes. All I know is comic fans need to lighten up a little. There has not been one- not ONE- comic book movie that has 100% adapted its source-material. Just gotta deal with it and hope for a good movie regardless.

  2. You know what I feel about this shambles, Dan...everyone, and I mean everyone over on our FF board is up in arms over this absolute shower of s**...well, the PTB have absolutely no idea what the FF is all about. It isn't just that they are seemingly going with the Ultimate version [which I liked reading, as an 'alternate FF'] but all the politically correct shenahigans. Is it REALLY necessary to have a black Human Torch? Is it so imperative to have a female Doctor Doom? Do we have to have a teenage FF?
    Jamie Bell is a very good actor and no doubt he could pull it off but he does not look like Ben Grimm in any way. Only chosen for his 'name' and nothing else.
    Maybe, being realistic, making a film of a comic-book to the letter as it appeared back in 1961 is too much to ask. It may be too corny, too old-fashioned, too hokey...but then they said The Lords of the Rings movies and Watchmen were unfilmable, and they got made virtually to the written word. Why not the FF? Why not?
    We were discussing it on our forum and we posed our 'dream FF movie' which involved setting it back in the 1960 at the heart of the Cold War, with the fashions and atttiudes of the time. It didn't harm that X-Men First Class movie did it? The FF should be made as a period piece like this, not a kiddie-friendly little-league X-Men knock-off.
    Our 'dream cast' would've been [set in the 60s] Jon Hamn as Reed, John Berntal [Walking Dead, Mob City] as Ben, Alexander Ludwig as Johnny and January Jones as Sue. With Cristoph Waltz [Inglorious Bastards] as Doom. Go on Hollywood...cast THEM!
    I just hate the whole entire concept of this as it totally disrespects the FF fanbase and merely panders to political correctness. I cannot bear it, this is not the FF Ive been reading since 1970.

  3. Thanks King - completely agree! This has actually upped my interest because I want to see how it's pulled off now. Lifting Jonathan Hickman's run would've made great cinema in scale etc, but this is a sign they're really hitting the franchise with enough 'what if' to make it count, and that's key. It's only when you change things half-assed that it sucks.

    If everything had to be as it was in the source material can you imagine how hard it would be to find a decent Jewish actor who was alive in WWII still with Jim Lee abs to play Magneto? If they had it would've robbed us of one of the best actor/role combinations ever!

    I have to admit I didn't agree to Berry being cast as Catwoman, but that was because I didn't think she could seriously pull of the sass of the character and the strength at the same time. Had they picked Angela Bassett, I would've camped out at the ticket office.

    I LOVE the Ultraverse. I actually make sure I regularly post about it too and having Thing morph in such ways might light a fire under Disnivel to untangle that mess once and for all because it could easily be worth it.

    Just that might alter Ben's isolation being mutated causes, which is key to the character, so they'd have to be careful.

    The last thing you want from a film is audiences not going because they know the story you're going to tell. Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, Cap - all the iconic comics risk this. Fox have shown in one hit you don't have to worry about that here.

    1. Halle Berry being cast as Catwoman did not phase me at all because of Eartha Kitt. I was just like- cool. Then I saw that horrible flick and wanted to die. Angela Bassett could not have saved it.

      Always good to know another Ultraverse/Malibu Comics fan!

      A solve for that is you have Ben able to change back and forth at first- but something happens by the end of the movie where he's stuck as The Thing for good. That way he even gets to feel like part of the team AND be normal, and then it all gets taken away. What happens can be related to Doom tricking him with a "cure", or Reed fucking one up- because it starts becoming harder for him to change back each time, or something. Instant retconned pathos!

  4. Sorry Karl I didnt see your comment last time, I think we both commented at the same time.

    Yeah I thing we might agree to disagree on this film, but I do like the Cold War idea. Crime Noir pulp has heaps of great movies but Adam Strange / Challengers of The Unknown / Fantastic Four type pulp really only has Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow that's any good. A Fantastic Four in that style could own a whole genre.

    I'd really like Mole Man as the debut foe and leave Doom as an imposing shadow. Not only could we get some cool Moloids and Pacific Rim sized beasties, it would be cool to capture on film the first issues cover, which I don't think has happened yet.

    King, I think you just might have nailed it mr. I'm going to re-read some Prime as a result, so don't be surprised to see his face on this site in a week or two.

    1. Hell yeah PRIME! -Can't wait.
      (Mantra was always my favorite... Also- Lord Pumpkin. And Ploog on Sludge.)

  5. Anonymous8:39 pm

    I want the movie to be like the comics, if its going to be different, like a black guy playing the human torch, then change the name like ultimate fantastic four or something, also I gave up on marvel movies, except mauybe the new captain america movie and, the other fantastic four movie was good, only the bit were human torch chases the silver surfer, and if they do devcide to do ultimatre fantaastic four, do the zombie comics, but use the director who did chronicle, coz that was the best super heroe movie I ever saw, and it wasnt even a super heroe movie, the action at the end was comic style, they threw buses at each other , oh and also the super man movie, the poses were good, like in the comics, when the bad girl flew straight to the jet, and u see her pose, just like the comics, but Im a marvel fan, and also these actors, they dont look good, they dont look like they have character or anything, they dont have the signs on there face, like that they can even put there state of mind to the same as fantastic four or ben grim or whatever, they just look like like normal people, people who just work at the coffee shop or something, but the fantastic four is about a normal family I guess , but they are not normal they are fantastis, I just tied that in perfectyl right at the end hey? anyways Im not realy interested in the movie, not even at the x men movie that came out or just came out, suposed to be some scences that are like age of apocalypse in it? well they proly will wreck it anyway,

  6. Hey Juan! Good to hear from you again mr! The director of this Fantastic Four movie is the director of Chronicle so you've got at least one wish!

    I loved the Torch vs Silver Surfer in the old movie too, the way Surfer grabs Torch by the throat and swirls high up into the atmosphere was liquid awesome!

    Thanks for your comments!