Remember 2005’s “Fantastic Four,” with its foam-suited Michael Chiklises, poorly-dyed Jessica Albas and scenery-chewing “Nip/Tuck” actors? How about its sequel, “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”? (That movie translated a classic comic antagonist to the big screen as a puffy space cloud. It’s OK if you purged it from your brain, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” style.)
Even if you have fond memories of Fox’s earlier attempts at bringing the first family of Marvel Comics to Hollywood, it seems the studio is trying very, very hard to make sure you forget all about it with a teaser trailer for the reboot of the franchise released Tuesday morning. Watch it below:
Let’s unpack a few initial observations:
- It seems that the studio that brought us “X-Men: Days of Future Past” would like to bring us “X-Men: Days of Future Past” again, but with The Thing instead of Wolverine. The tone of “Fantastic Four” looks dark, stormy and apocalyptic, a far cry from both the plastic sheen of the 2000s movies and the Space Age, wonderstruck tone of some of the comic’s quintessential incarnations. If audiences are in for a sci-fi horror interpretation, we’ll give it an eager shot. (Director Josh Trank says he’s going for a Cronenberg vibe, which if we’re honest, fits pretty intuitively with the inherent body horror aspects of the Fantastic Four concept.)
- Speaking of darker interpretations, the film definitely, consciously resembles 2004’s “Ultimate Fantastic Four” comic, which reinvented the foursome as a much younger group whose powers resulted from a scientific think-tank experiment gone awry, instead of Kennedy-era adults gifted/cursed with strange abilities after trying to beat the Commies to outer space. Hopefully, an infamous pair of goat legs won’t trickle through the influence funnel, too.
- Stray thoughts on the cast: Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) is certainly bringing to Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards a more nerd-cool, child prodigy vibe and less of a pipe-smoking, fatherly Cold War science hero schtick. This was expected, but it’s nice to see that the quick-lipped Teller might be anchoring his wiseacre routine with a little more vulnerability. Or maybe it’s just the glasses talking.
- Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) doesn’t do too much in the teaser aside from looking steely as the Invisible Woman/Susan Storm. But with such a low bar set (apologies to Ms. Alba), steely glances are cause for relief. The Susan Storm in the comics is a consummate badass, so we’re optimistic.
- Michael B. Jordan (“Friday Night Lights”) doesn’t get too much to do in the teaser as the Human Torch/Johnny Storm, but we do see some pyrotechnic CGI that gets our inner 12-year-old amped. Chris Evans’ portrayal of the self-immolating hero was the undeniable high point of the 2000s films, so we’re curious to see where Jordan takes the character.
- Finally, Jamie Bell (“Snowpiercer”) gets minimal screentime as Ben Grimm before transforming into the Thing, but we do see some lumbering piles of orange, CGI-ed rocks in brief flashes. The Thing is pretty much the definition of a character that works great in a comic book and seems absurd in live action (well, more absurd than a man with elastic limbs). The teaser’s coy stance on the clobbering hero could be an attempt to whet moviegoers’ appetites, but we’re worried that the filmmakers are embarrassed to show off this latest take on the rough-skinned bruiser. Here’s hoping there’s no foam rubber.
- Was that disembodied voice at the end Toby Kebbell (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) as Doctor Doom (or evil programmer Victor Domashev in this film, which .. yeah)? We’ll say this: The movie definitely reeks of doom, one way or another.
“Fantastic Four” is set to hit theaters August 7.