How To Fix The 2015 Debacle That Is The Fantastic Four
Two steps forward, and several leaps back. This new take on the beloved First Family of Marvel Comics did turn down the goofiness and campiness of its predecessor, however it went a little too far and strayed from its source. And despite the end result here being nearly unwatchable and wholly unentertaining, I believe it would only take a few tweaks to each character to fix this film.
Reed Richard (Mr. Fantastic)
Reed is supposed to be the smartest person in the world, and yet here he accidentally stumbles into most of discoveries. He invents teleportation to a different dimension, and thinks he's sending toy cars to the desert. And he can't even Google a major science fair, or think tank, or Neil deGrasse Tyson to show them his experiment? Instead he takes it to a grade school science fair and gets dismissed by the comically stubborn teacher who thinks it's a parlor trick. No. The initial explosion in his parent's garage should have alerted the Baxter Building, and then Reed tells them it's a different dimension. And for the purposes of this blog, I'll stick to those character flaws done by the writers, and won't dwell on the lack of charisma or chemistry with his team members from the horribly miscast Miles Teller.
Sue Storm (Invisible Girl)
Sue is supposed to be smart, deceptively beautiful (like Adrienne in Rocky), and shy. Three aspects that were never really well portrayed. The main misuse of this character, is that she wasn't involved in the initial inter-dimensional run. That is perhaps the biggest change that could have single-handedly fixed this entire movie. But I will save the details of that fix for my write up of Victor Von Doom.
Johnny Storm (Human Torch)
The young hot head of the group was the closest to his true comic nature, if they just amped up the youthful spirit and turned down the teenage angst. I get that this film was made to be "darker and grittier", because that worked with Man of Steel and movie studios play copycat instead of sticking to what should work, but Torch and Thing should have some comic lines and playful banter. The Fantastic Four are a family, and Torch is supposed to be the younger brother that's more athletic, popular, and kind of annoying... but at the end of the day loves his siblings and would do anything to help them out. And no, I'm not one of the many that were "outraged" by the race swapping of this character. Unless their race is a defining part of their character, then it ultimately doesn't matter. Black Panther only makes sense as a black man as he's the king of an African nation. Johnny here, and even Kingpin in the Daredevil movie, being portrayed by African American actors did not even factor in to why both of those movies failed. That lies more on character attitudes, backstories, and the overall look and feel of the films being wrong; not the race of the actors.
Ben Grim (Thing)
The ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing. The favorite nephew of his sweet old Aunt Petunia. Yes, Ben does struggle the most with his newfound powers. He does get depressed about his appearance, and question why everyone else can "shut off" their powers while he is stuck as a "orange rock monster"; but Grim should never lose his attitude as the team's big brother. He's not someone who has been out of touch with Reed for months, or even years, then comes to his side because he gets drunk-dialed one night. He should be there as much as possible. He watches out for Reed and Sue, and endures Johnny's near-constant teasing. But he's there. He stands up for Reed because he sees Reed as a true friend, and surrogate brother. And while most of the science talk goes right over his head, he's still smart, quick-witted, and has a playful attitude that makes his teammates smile. Unfortunately all we got was the depressed Ben turned up to near suicidal levels that is a willing soldier to the government for no other reason than they asked. Ben, and his fans, deserve much better.
Victor Von Doom (Dr. Doom)
In both the initial film series and this one, Doom has been the biggest change from his comic source, and the biggest reason each film has failed. Equally brilliant and egotistical, his intellect should come second only the Reed's, which his ego will simply not allow. That biggest change I mentioned in Sue's part of this? Simple. The four characters above should have been the initial team to travel to another dimension, leaving Doom behind. Doom should have been so close to creating the machine himself, until Reed comes along and fixes his equations. Since Richards perfected the system, the Baxter Building allows him to select himself, Sue, Johnny, and Ben as the first to use it, leaving Victor to run the machine from Earth. This infuriates Doom, as he is correct and he should be leading this exposition. After the team is locked inside the machine, Doom changes the computer program back to his original equation. When the machine fires up, something goes wrong and the team is exposed to extra-dimensional radiation which gives them their powers. The system overloads, causing the monitor in front of Doom to explode. Doom blames Richards for sabotaging his experiment, and disfiguring his "perfect face". Doom then retreats to his home country of Latvaria, vowing revenge on Richards for ruining everything. From there its a matter of having the team learn their powers, and how to function as a surrogate family, before Doom returns threatening to destroy everything they hold dear. Not with new found powers of his own. Not with his skin turned to a metallic alloy. But in a metal suit of armor with enough weapons, tech, and gadgets to rival that of Iron Man.
It's not that hard to write a family of superheroes. We got it with the Incredibles, Big Hero 6, and even every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (some better than others, but that's for another time), so why can't the source that all those pulled from do it better? There's simply no reason, except a lack of respect for the source from the studio, writers, and actors. You need to use prior examples to help sell the vision? Think X-Men meets The Incredibles vs Darth Vader as Iron Man. Even that statement can send you down the wrong path, but I'll bet it'll still be closer that the previous two attempts...