I was reading another piece about 2015 Fant4stic today and a thought hit me as I replied to someone’s comment: What if, instead of moaning about not having the rights to the Fantastic Four, Marvel Studios just went ahead and made what they thought an FF movie should be, using characters they had the rights to? I’ve been thinking long and hard about all the conversations about what fans think an FF movie should be, and the more I do the more I realize that movie is already out; Guardians of the Galaxy. My case breaks down into 3 parts:
It was funny! I know that’s a matter of opinion, but overall the dialog was snappy and well delivered and the jokes stood up. The first two FF movies have had their moments when it comes to funny, but overall they withered when it came to consistent timing, delivery, pacing, and chemistry between the cast.
It was an adventure! Front-to-back Guardians was a solid macguffin hunt. A simple plot well executed with ups and downs that kept you guessing without bogging down the pace. None of the 3 attempts at FF movies come close to that level of execution. The best you can say is they hit all the bases, but there was little wonder (other than wonder at what was going on) and no sense of golly gee wonder even in the scenes where they were doing amazing exploration-like stuff.
As I touched on above, Guardians manages to nail the interpersonal dynamics better than any of the FF movies. The awkwardness they feel stems from the circumstances (more on that in a moment) of their characters, not from the fact they were poorly written and executed.
If you do an ident-i-kit shuffle of skills and personality traits of the Guardians, you can easily end up with the members of the FF. Even more telling is they custom made this team of Guardians instead of using the one(s) from the comics.
Quill- Lady’s Man (Johnny), Caring for ‘family’ (Sue), Reluctant Leader (Reed), Showboat (Johnny)
Gamora- Single minded (Reed), Loyal (Ben/Sue), Calculating (Reed), Grudge bearing (Ben)
Rocket- Techno whiz (Reed), Planner (Reed), Prankster (Johnny), Angry/Grumpy (Ben)
Groot- Loyal and Protective (Ben/Sue), Fierce (Ben), Fades into the background (Sue)
Drax- Loyal and Protective (Ben/Sue), Fierce (Ben), Tragic Figure (Ben)
And yes, I’m fully aware those are all common traits in a family group dynamic or team based story. My point was that Guardians reliably hits all those notes and shows those characters interacting around them and relying on each other because of them. This is something we’ve been begging to see in an FF movie and it only happens sporadically, or they get twisted and the wrong traits get overplayed, to end up with a self loathing superhero story.
This may seem like a weird point to make when I’m trying to say that Guardians of the Galaxy is actually a Fantastic Four movie, but bear with me. When all is said and done there’s one difference between the movie Guardians and the FF: They are criminals (or antiheroic) and the FF are (initially) in it as adventure seekers/discoverers. This one difference shifts some of their motivations, changes how the world sees them, and how they treat each other, but overall it has very little to do with how they each function within the plot. Heck when you directly compare GotG and FF 2015, the reverse parallelism is even more clear. One group are criminals that come together and become heroes/adventurers, the other are adventurers that become criminals/outcasts (and yes eventually heroes again but my understanding of the story is they really just clean up the mess they helped create). So my point is the one real difference isn’t a big one.
I’m sure my take isn’t unique. I’m also sure there are other cases to be made that other movies parallel the FF even better. I just wanted to share my thinking that while I doubt Marvel deliberately made a Fantastic Four movie without the Fantastic Four, they could have. *wink*