Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fantastic Four Movie Errors

Hardly new, but some basic mistakes that seem to occur in the recent attempts at the Fantastic Four.

1. Victor Von Doom's motivations. In the 2005 film he was a brilliant scientist but greedy businessman primarily. In the 2015 film, he was all about fame. By comparison the Doom of the comics was driven by the desire to rescue his mother's soul from Hell and to raise his nation up from poverty. Later, after receiving a prophecy that predicted the world would fall into a dark age if he didn't take over, he decided to set about taking over. He has always had complex, somewhat well-meaning motivations combined with questionable ethics and methods of operation. He is very much someone who believes that the ends justifies the means. By comparison, the two movie versions seem much more one-dimensional. The comic Doom would consider the 2005 Doom a vapid crybaby and the 2015 Doom a horrible monster (comic Doom has actually killed versions of himself that were less monstrous than the 2015 Doom).

2. Victor Von Doom's not having magic. A key difference between Doom and Richards is Doom's acceptance and, indeed, mastery of magic while Richards does everything he can to disprove or analyze magic. The bit about Doom's mother being stuck in Hell is a key point of his backstory and his blending of tech and magic is one of the scariest things about him and lacking that he doesn't feel like doom. Attempts to replicate Doom's supernatural elements as a superpowers also tends to undercut his ingenuity and technical mastery. The movie Dooms depend almost entirely upon their super-powers as compared to the way comic Doom views his magic as just another tool in his arsenal. The tactical cleverness and strategic brilliance of Doom is replaced with a crude, blunt instrument bearing his name.

3. Reed and Sue's comparative ages. Originally, Mister Fantastic was 11 years older than Sue Storm. This was later ret-conned to a six year difference. In addition to the tendency of Richards to phase out of awareness of everything but his current project, the age difference is one of the regularly recurring obstacles that show up in their relationship. But in 2005 there was hardly any age difference and in 2015 Reed actually seems to be younger than Sue.

4. Not getting the relationships within the Fantastic Four. The F4 are about differing kinds of love and hate. Sibling love (Sue and Johnny), romantic love (Sue and Reed), love between friends (Johnny and Ben and Reed), unrequited love (Sue and Doom), rivalry (Doom and Reed), hatred based on fear (Ben being one of the few things Doom fears) and so on. 2005 made a shallow attempt at this, but the 2015 seems to throw that down into pit from the get go.

5. Specific to 2015, the darker and edgier thing.Of all the Marvel titles, Fantastic Four has one of the most upbeat and optimistic of moods. Sure the members of the team have horrible things happen to them, but, by and large they have the most consistently positive reputations of almost any superhero in the Marvel universe with both the government and the public. This whole thing of Reed abandoning the other three to a government facility is horrifyingly off mood. At least the 2005 film was fun, but this one looks like it was following Zack Snyder's play book.

6. Another thing that the 2015 movie fails at is it's application of Hollywood standard transhumanist phobia. In the original comics, Reed, Johnny and Sue quickly adjust to and come to consider their powers as great gifts. Only Ben is resentful, rightly so in many ways, of his situation. In the 2005 movie, this is done fairly correctly. This is, of course, part of the inherent optimism of the franchise. The 2015 movie, instead opts for the standard Hollywood fare these days of "science is scary" and painting any attempt at advancement as a horrible mistake that has to be shut down.

Something that they don't get wrong:

Doom's attitude. For all the comic Doom's brilliance, dignity and confidence, he is still woefully impatient and has way too large an ego for his own good. Most of the reason he's a villain, or at least anti-villain, is because he's not willing to accept the idea that other people might have ideas or opinions that are of equal use and validity to his own.

Doom's origin story runs sort of like this, he was running an experiment and Richards came in to adjust it. This resulted in an explosion. I don't remember the specifics. Either Doom's experiment involved magic and Richards' lack of understanding of that field resulted in the failure, or Richards' adjustment was correct and Doom, in a fit of pique and ego threw a fit denying this and his fit resulted in the failure.

In either case, the explosion resulted in Doom being expelled from college and his face being scratched. At this point, his ego was such that he felt that this scratch was a horrible blemish that needed to be hidden away. So Doom made a mask. Unfortunately, when he completed the mask he forgot to let the metal cool before placing it over his face and this, of course, caused the severe burns and scarring under his face mask. It may also have resulted in the mask being fused to his face.

So, yes, Doom is an overreacting, emotional prima-donna of a megalomaniac. This still doesn't cover the previously mentioned mistakes in his portrayal. While the movies have hit his emotional issues fairly well, they are still missing the complexity and brilliance that make Doom one of the great villains. The 2005 was the emotional weaknesses without any of the competence and the 2015 was little more than a video game boss fight.

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