Trailers@24 Panels: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the first trailer for Fantastic Four, directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle).

DAVE: Well, that was different.

Prior to this trailer, I had no idea what to expect from Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. I have yet to even sit down and watch Chronicle (though I really should get on that), so I couldn’t even begin to guess what Trank had in mind for Marvel’s First Family. At best, my expectations were being built around the infamous Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, which I am on the record as not being too fond of.

Certainly, some of the DNA from the Ultimate Fantastic Four is recognizable here, but in terms of tone and themes, Trank seems to be crafting something very different from any previous incarnation of the FF. The trailer has more than a little vibe of Interstellar about it, playing up the exploratory elements of the premise, which I have to admit, really does appeal to me. If this is truly going to be a film about scientific exploration, something that even Star Trek has ceased to be about, then I am in. Indeed, I am rather surprised at how much the FF’s superpowers are downplayed here, with (what I assume is) the landscape of an alternate dimension being the main spectacle sold to the audience in this trailer.

Honestly though, what I am more intrigued by at this point is how audiences are going to react to this trailer. A rather sizeable segment of FF fans have been waiting to write this film off, and I can only see this trailer playing right into every concern they have. This certainly is not Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FF, and while the trailer makes clear the tone Trank and company are going for, it does appear to be dangerously humourless for a film featuring Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. And while the somber tone sets it apart from the other major comic book films of the year, I am not sure that is necessarily going to draw general audiences in. At the very least, I don’t see too many action figures based on this film being sold.

On a side note, if anyone at Fox happens to be reading this post, I will NOT spell the title as Fant4stic.

So what do you make of this Dru?

DRU: Well, I for one will exclusively be referring to this movie as Fant4stic from now on (pronounced, of course, “FANT – FOUR – STICK”). And I couldn’t help but notice that the titular “the” that you’ve been emphasizing as a distinguishing factor between this film and the 2005 effort seems to be conspicuously absent! (I’ll expect your resignation on my desk by 5.) Instead, this film is following in the proud tradition of Tak3n and H2lk: Jungle Justice

A lot of people online seem to be picking up on that Interstellar vibe you note, which I think is dead on. But for me the first thing that came to mind what that great Man of Steel teaserFant4stic seems grounded in the same portentious Malick-y aesthetic that we all love so much—not to mention that Johnny Storm and co. seem to have stopped by Krypton for their duds. General Zod called, and he wants his costume back! I was hoping for some white Future Foundation-style outfits, but I guess I’ll have to settle for the exact opposite of that. (I think we can expect a more action figure-friendly design for the sequel, though, or maybe even later in this film.)

That superficial disappointment aside, the thing that struck me the most about this teaser was actually something that was barely present in it: the cast. Of course we see everybody,  but there’s almost no dialogue here. It’s no hyperbole to claim that Miles Teller (Whiplash), Jaime Bell (Snowpiercer), Kate Mara (House of Cards), and Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) are among the best talents of the current generation of actors, and to see them all in on superhero team is legitimately exciting. I’m looking forward to hearing them speak in the next trailer!

I’ve been as guilty as anybody in decrying the appropriateness of the “dark and gritty” reboot with the Fantastic Four franchise, but I get the impression that that’s not what we’re going to get. Probably too often we conflate “gritty” with “grounded,” but this trailer shows that the two aren’t synonymous. This certainly isn’t your daddy’s Fantastic Four, or even your slightly older cousin’s Fantastic Four: this looks to be polished filmmaking (which is surprising in itself, from the director of Chronicle) depicting a lived-in world of scientific search and discovery. I’m sure that we’ll be taken (or is that tak3n?) to some strange new worlds in this film, and I think that the actors have the chops to bring us there believably. The special effects look good so far, though The Thing and Mr. Fantastic’s stretchy limbs remain big question marks in that department. So long as they just use the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics as a broad inspiration—i.e., cosmic rays replaced by interdimensional travel—and leave everything that’s terrible about those books at the door, you can consider me on board for this one.



Dave is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second.

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