One Man /// Riot is a CBU column by Daryll Benjamin. In this episode he applies his personal brand rehab to everyone’s favorite, fantastic family that first ushered in the Marvel Age of comics.
I’m going to try something new for this column folks. Those that know me recognize that I don’t tend to hold back with my opinions and thoughts when it comes to comics and science fiction. I am the living embodiment of I hate because I love so much. Well, I’m definitely seeking out trouble for this edition of One Man /// Riot as I’m opening up “Brand Rehab”.
Brand Rehab is the place where I’m going to put my brain cells where my mouth is and try to “repair” a geeky property. To “redeem” it in everyone’s (my) eyes. And I’m already going to warn y’all right now: some of these changes you will not like. BUT I have no studio ties and no contracts to abide by. I have no stars’ egos to soothe. This will be off the top of my head raw and as usual, I’m going to tackle the giant elephant in the room first:
The Fantastic Four
This is the Marvel team. Reed Richards, Sue & Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm. Four adventurers gifted/cursed with powers when bombarded with cosmic rays during a failed space flight/experiment. More a family than a superhero team, the Fantastic Four helped introduce 65-70% of the Marvel Universe on page & screen that we enjoy today. So it’s a slam dunk that this would be a popular property right?
Yes, they have had 3 movies through FOX Studios but it is a bone of contention how good the first 2 movies actually were and the third . . . well, we’re going to forget about the third movie which went a little off the rails. Hell, the fact that Disney’s Fantastic Four analog The Incredibles is more loved and respected right now than the actual team it homages speaks volumes to how far the property has dropped.
This isn’t to say that Marvel isn’t without fault/blame on this. Right now the property is shelved, with 2015-16’s Secret Wars Vol. 2 essentially being a giant send off for the team as Reed and Sue, along with their kids Franklin & Valeria, are in the multiverse exploring and mapping the new status quo. Johnny ended up being Medusa’s paramour for a minute with the Inhumans and is now a part of the Uncanny Avengers. Meanwhile, Ben has been a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy and is a part of the superhero underground in Secret Empire.
So . . . How To Fix This?
I will start with the comics first and I’m going to channel a bit of my past Fantastic Four love for this one:
Fantastic Four: Written by Mark Waid, Drawn by Patrick Oliffe
Future Foundation: Written and Drawn by Chris Giarusso
The two books would be connected a la the Jonathan Hickman run during 2011-14 with Waid’s F4 book being the serious “adult” adventures book with the team exploring the multiverse and getting into conflicts with foes and friends alike. Oliffe’s clean style from Untold Tales of Spider-Man and Rough Riders (published by Aftershock Comics) would fit this dynamic. As for Waid writing Fantastic Four? Just read his run with the late Mike Wieringo and Barry Kitson. Memorable moments in this run involving their family conflict/dynamic, Doctor Doom & Galactus. Perfect team to introduce the old school exploration and superheroics of Marvel’s First Family.
You know Chris Giarusso’s style from Mini Marvels, Franklin Richards & G-Man. I want that type of all ages humor and hijinks for the FF. A group of students, traveling the universes with their fantastic teachers/instructors, getting into fun trouble while growing up. Book essentially writes itself but throw in alien worlds and the occasional cosmic flare up and this will be fun dynamite.
With both books, I would give a 10-12 issue buffer between their storylines and the Marvel Universe proper. Trying to reestablish their roles and status with heroes and villains along with their status quo with the fans. But you know, the books have truly been the EASY part of the equation. Time to hit the hard stuff!
Fantastic Four: The Movie
I’ll hit you with the controversial stance first: My movie would not have the team go through the accident that made them the Fantastic Four and would begin 3-5 years since their debut. My opening montage would briefly show the accident and various heroic deeds that vaulted the team into iconic status and popularity amongst the people of NYC and the planet.
Next part of my plan will avoid physically using Victor Von Doom for this project. My villains would be The WIzard and his Frightful Four. Jealous of their popularity and having been knocked off the peak of prime go-to scientist by Richards, the man who would be the Wizard, gathers his team to challenge the Fantastic Four and reclaim a bit of the spotlight for himself.
My Frightful Four would be The Wizard as detached leader, with Titania, Dragon Man, The Trapster and Hydro-Man as his team. Medusa and She-Thing all are possibilities, depending on the storyline to appear also. My key is building up the team unity first, before letting loose the heavy hitter in Doom and the galactic threat in Galactus. I’d have Doom funding the Frightful Four as an irritant to Richards and his team to test their resolve. Then in movie 2, Doom appears to confront the team and as their battle erupts, that would be the beacon to lead Galactus to Earth for feeding in the third movie.
In terms of actors and actresses I would lean towards the Early Adult/mid life crisis range as these adventurers would have had to see some stuff in their lives before this accident. At the same time, I have the Fantastic Four as personalities that work better in the team dynamic better than on their own. Through the course of the first movie this would have to be shown, but not really harped upon as they fight their opposite number.
I’ll leave it up to other fans and studios to fantasy cast the movies, but what I have just given you is a bare bones/off-the-top-of-my-head retooling of the Fantastic Four franchise. Questions? Rebuttals? You can find me on Facebook and Twitter by my name and I’m now here every week along with podcasting every Saturday on Afronerd Radio.
Thanks For Reading & Have a Nice Day!
Blerd. Irritant. Blogger. Podcaster at afronerd.com. Daryll was a quiet, insecure person for years, then an incident blew Daryll’s mind to the point where he couldn’t keep it inside anymore. Now that the rage is released, EVERYONE will receive his words.