Fantastic Four: Contemporary Tale of Four Young Outsiders

fantastic_four_posterA contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, FANTASTIC FOUR 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.

Set in contemporary New York, this retelling focuses on the Four before they become a team, when they were four young idealistic adventurers who make a headstrong leap into the unknown.

At first, the characters that at first don’t perceive their new physical abilities as advantages, but as daunting challenges.

fantastic_four_11_maraLike many modern day inventors and geniuses, Reed Richards has humble origins.  At age 12, he toils countless hours in his mom and stepdad’s garage in their suburban home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York.

There, the young inventor designs a unique matter transportation device that he cleverly cobbled together from parts scavenged from the salvage yard of his classmate, Ben Grimm.  The tabletop-sized device, a “cymatic matter shuttle,” can transport objects from one place to another.

Four years later at his high school science fair, Reed’s innovation catches the interest of Dr. Franklin Storm, Dean of the Baxter Institute, a school and think tank dedicated to incubating the best new ideas from high school and college students.

Dr. Storm asks the young visionary to be part of his elite group of brilliant students.  Reed moves to New York City and joins the Baxter program, where he helps develop a shuttle that runs on the breakthrough technology he’s developed.

fantastic_four_10One night, Reed decides to test his device, which had never been used on human beings, so he enlists his childhood friend Ben Grimm, along with Dr. Storm’s son, Johnny Storm, and fellow Baxter student Victor von Doom to travel with him to another dimension that resembles a primordial Earth — an entire planet full of natural energy resources that have unlimited potential for those who can control it.

Unfortunately, the amateur astronauts’ mission goes awry, leading to a explosion.  Reed, Johnny and Ben are seriously injured along with fellow Baxter student Sue Storm, Dr. Storm’s adopted daughter, who stayed behind in the lab.  Meanwhile, Victor is missing.

In the aftermath of the Baxter incident, the government quickly ushers the four young people to a top-secret facility known as Area 57, where over the course of three years they are contained, stabilized, probed, and analyzed.

fantastic_four_9Reed, Johnny, Sue and Ben begin to exhibit unique physical conditions that provide them with incredible abilities: Reed can stretch his body into extraordinary shapes; Johnny can light himself on fire; Sue can render herself invisible and create powerful force fields; and Ben has transformed into a six-foot eight, thousand pound rock creature.

While Washington DC’s political and military industrial brass assess and attempt to harness the these fantastic powers, these four young people must band together as they grapple with their new abilities and, ultimately, attempt to save the Earth from the mysterious and powerful force.

How the 4 Became Fantastic

fantastic_four_8The Fantastic Four possess a vaunted position in the venerable history of Marvel Comics.  Created by the legendary Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, “The Fantastic Four” issue #1 debuted in November 1961. The groundbreaking creation of Marvel’s first superhero team humanized and brought humor to comics and ushered in the Marvel Age, preceding other iconic Marvel characters such as Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The X-Men.  In that historic period of creativity in the early 1960s, Lee and Kirby were inspired by the atomic bomb scares that were part of the zeitgeist of the Cold War.  The speculative effects of radiation from these nuclear bombs became the root of the superpowers possessed by many of their iconic characters.

The Fantastic Four stories are about characters who did not have to wear masks, and who sometimes clashed with each other. The comics were set in the real world so readers could identify even more with the Four.

fantastic_four_7_maraA contemporary update, “Ultimate Fantastic Four,” a 60-issue series that arrived in 2004, reimagined the origins of the Four.  Along with various stories and themes from the original Fantastic Four books, the Ultimate series inspired the storyline of the new FANTASTIC FOUR film.

The appealing cast is headed by Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) as Reed Richards, Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station,” “Chronicle”) as Johnny Storm, Kate Mara (Netflix’s “House of Cards”) as Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot,” AMC’s “Turn”) as Ben Grimm.

fantastic_four_6_jordanThe film also stars Toby Kebbell (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) as Victor von Doom, a brilliant but rebellious computer programmer and Baxter Institute student; Reg E. Cathey (“House of Cards,” “The Wire”) as Dr. Franklin Storm, Johnny and Sue’s father; and Tim Blake Nelson (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) as an unscrupulous Baxter Institute board member.