Fantastic Four Trailer Reaction
John: First off, I am not the biggest Fantastic Four fan. I do really like Hickman at the helm, but the book never did it for me. I didn’t even hate the first two films because I just didn’t care enough. So how do I react to a reboot on a title that doesn’t stir my heart? Hmm… Well, I’m getting tired of the voice over with heavy gravitas. I think I’ve heard it before a couple times. That said, maybe this could be good. It doesn’t look campy, but it doesn’t look too dark. There looks to be some backstory which I love more than anything instead of actually advancing a story. Ok, tone down the sarcasm. I know it’s necessary when you’re taking the reboot in what looks to be a different direction. I can forgive that. It does look like it can be exciting. The hint of an unknown Doom looming (get it?…) is kind of cool. The character designs look pretty good, including what may surprise some with a choice to go with a black actor playing Johnny. I liked him in Chronicle so I think he can be an asset to this film. All in all, I’m optimistic that this can make me care about Fantastic Four much like I enjoyed Hickman’s command of the characters.
Alek: There are a lot of different elements to chat about in the teaser – Kate Mara in a post House of Cards role, the fun retro feel that made X-Men: First Class so fun, the bad special effects which seem inexcusable in today’s world – but the one thing that I just couldn’t shake throughout the teaser was seeing a black Johny Storm/Human Torch. Now I’m immensely conflicted about this – on one hand, I’m a comic book purist who could see this as ethnic pandering, but on the other, I’m an underrepresented minority who fully recognizes just how whitewashed comics, cartoons…and especially the movies based on them…are. So should I complain that they’ve changed the race of a character who was born in the 60’s when a black character would have been impossible to push as a lead? Or should I celebrate how they’ve decided to “diversify” the team…when it potentially spits in the face of the overarching themes and narratives of the original concept.
Shouldn’t we be focusing on handing down the mantles of these iconic characters to new people (a la The Falcon taking over for Captain America or Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man) instead of “coloring in” the mistakes of the past?
Unlike John, this book is one that’s a little bit closer to my heart. I’ve enjoyed various runs over the years and have been entertained by the space fantasy and futuristic science aspects of the books. The overarching theme though – and the one hurdle for me with the casting of a black actor for Johnny Storm – is the concept of family. Regardless of who has written the FF, the central theme from which all of these stories launch from is that they’re a family. They have sibling rivalries, marital disputes, and parental mishaps. FF truly is the story of how the first family of the Marvel Universe has adapted and excelled in their “fantastic” surroundings. So as a fan and a “purist”, I have difficulty trying to wrap my head around how these themes will play out with the current casting. Maybe they won’t even acknowledge it…maybe they’ll hammer it home ironically – “this is Johnny, my adopted black brother”…or maybe they’ll just write around it and make it a group of friends…
…that’s not the Fantastic Four for me though.
Race is a difficult issue to discuss rationally. The topic evokes such a visceral and personal reaction that it’s oftentimes difficult to accurately communicate what we’re feeling. As an Asian-American who really has seen almost zero representation in the Marvel Universe (yes, feel free to throw Jubilee at me…but, c’mon), I am all for tearing down the ivory walls of Marvel. But as a fan of continuity and archived history, I feel like we shouldn’t be changing the past to make up for the lack of diversity. Shouldn’t we be focusing on handing down the mantles of these iconic characters to new people (a la The Falcon taking over for Captain America or Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man) instead of “coloring in” the mistakes of the past?
I know I’m all over the place on this one. I’m conflicted…but it’s not going to stop me from seeing the movie.