Critical Analysis of a Superhero Film: The Fantastic Four

Finally, the post you’ve all been waiting for! It has been sitting half written on my desktop since early spring break, but now it is finally finished and ready for viewing!

The superhero film I chose to watch and analyze is the 2005 movie Fantastic Four directed by Tim Story. I had never seen it before, and I thought it would be really cool to watch it and see how it compares/contrasts with the original Fantastic Four comic. Luckily I watched it with one of the kids I nanny for, a self-proclaimed “Marvel Genius”, because I didn’t really understand who everyone was at the beginning of the movie, and he was able to explain everyone to me. (I kept confusing Reed, Ben, and Doctor Doom!) I was especially confused about the character Victor Von Doom. I knew about Doctor Doom, but I didn’t expect him in the beginning of the film. In fact, the way the film depicted him, his relationship to the Fantastic Four, and his back-story were very different from what I read in the comic. The first comic for the Fantastic Four did not include any information about Doctor Doom or Victor Von Doom. His character wasn’t introduced until I believe the 6th issue. From my understanding, Von Doom had no relationship to the Fantastic Four’s mission to space in the comic. As a refresher I looked up his bio page on the Marvel site, and found that while he did know Reed and Ben from college, that is the extent of their relationship in the comics. In the film, however, Von Doom is the backer for the space mission, and is in space with them when they receive their powers. In fact, the story behind his scar is changed for the film as well. In the comic, it is told that he gets the cut on his face in college from an experiment gone wrong, which he blames on Reed. In the film, he gets his scar and powers while in space. The whole back-story of Doom receiving his powers from sacrificing his childhood love to Hazareth Three is changed to receiving his powers the same way the Fantastic Four do (Marvel.com).

Another strange plot change is the relationship of Susan Storm to both Victor and Reed. In the comic, Susan is engaged to Reed from the get go. In the film, however, she is engaged to Victor, but it is made clear that she has a past with Reed. After they get their powers, Susan breaks up with Victor in order to rekindle her relationship with Reed. It is a strange plot change, as Victor could have just seen her as an object of lust, as he did in the comics. The film feels the need to make his tie to her more important than just sexual. The two of them having an actual committed relationship may be a way of tightening their bond, as well as upping Doom’s stakes in the mission. It is interesting that they made Doom’s tie to the Fantastic Four a relationship with Susan, rather than the original plot of his connection with Reed.

Finally, I want to talk about The Thing. He is such a unique character in that he is the only Superhero who is permanently changed. The film explains this by having him outside of the spaceship when the ray hits, but in the comic there was no difference for the four characters. In the comic they were all inside, and yet The Thing is the most gruesomely effected. I like that the film explores a way to explain his major deformity, because it doesn’t make sense that he would be so affected and not be in closer proximity to the ray. What interested me the most is that The Thing, being the only Superhero that cannot change out of his superhero-ness, DOES change back in the film! Reed is working on a machine to reverse the effects, and ultimately Dr. Doom helps Ben get enough power to change back into being human. As far as I have read in the comics, this event does not happen. Ben, as The Thing, spends a lot of time complaining about being The Thing, but never has the opportunity to change. I think that based on the attitude of the comic version, if given the chance he would change back. But it’s noteworthy that the Ben of the film, while he has the opportunity and TAKES the opportunity to change back, he ultimately chooses to be The Thing. It becomes a deformity that is no longer imposed on him, but rather he chooses to accept it and use it for good. He isn’t like The Thing of the comic that is moody and angry about his condition (well, at the beginning he is), but he is a Thing that chooses to be such. I think that is a very significant change that shows a new message of self-acceptance that other superhero narratives (majority comics) seem to avoid. By The Thing not having a secret identity, nor the ability to create one, he must fully accept himself.

Overall I really enjoyed watching The Fantastic Four. I think I enjoyed it more having read the comics, and being able to see how things connected or didn’t. I am now really interested in watching Rise of the Silver Surfer, to get a better understanding of him!

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading! Feel free to post questions or comments!

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Critical Analysis of a Superhero Film: The Fantastic Four

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