20th Century Fox has released four new Fantastic Four images, and they continue to hammer home that if you’re looking for something fun and lighthearted, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. These images give us a close look at the team’s outfits, and you’ll notice that the number “4”—a trademark in the comics—is nowhere to be found. This is in addition to losing the blue-and-white coloring and instead going for black and maroon.
“The original two films to me are very similar to a lot of recent movies that have come out, in terms of that kind of cartoonish. It’s just not something that me and [producer] Simon [Kinberg] are interested in as storytellers. There’s the opportunity to make something that is challenging and tragic and dramatic. The opportunity is right there in the material. We’d rather steer it in that direction as opposed to just embracing a tone that comes right off the page.”
Presumably, the “cartoonish” movies he’s referring to are Marvel’s—you know those movies critics and audiences love and make tons of money.
Kinberg also seems to be reinforcing the tired notion that in order for something to be “challenging” and “dramatic” it must therefore be dark and sad, which is ridiculous. A brooding teenager isn’t inherently dramatic; he’s irritating. By the same token, someone who is lighthearted isn’t inherently shallow.
But here’s my larger concern about Fantastic Four: how far can you get from the “cartoonish” comic before it ceases to truly be “Fantastic Four”? I look at these images and the trailer, and I may as well be watching the adventures of Stretchy Man, Vanishing Lady, Flame Guy, and Rock Person. I’m not rejecting director Josh Trank’s approach, but I’m wondering how much of his approach will reject what he’s supposedly adapting.
Here’s the official synopsis for Fantastic Four:
THE FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.