The first family of comics, the Fantastic Four was born out of Stan Lee’s frustration as a writer and the steady decline of sales on the science fiction and monster books peddled at street corners by his publisher. Lee’s wife suggested that since things were going down fast anyway, why not write a comic the way he always wanted to? He had nothing to lose, after all.
Despite the superhero boom of the 1940’s, the genre had fallen out of vogue, supplanted by talking animals and humorous titles starring Dobie Gillis and Jerry Lewis. This was largely due in part to the witch hunt started by Fredric Wertham who pinned the degradation of youth to comic books. It hit the medium hard and the Comics Code Authority limited the creativity of the artists and writers. That is, until what is regarded as the Silver Age of comics exploded. In DC Comics, this was reflected by the relaunch of the Flash, across the street at what would become Marvel Comics, it was the arrival of the Fantastic Four.
Dubbed as ‘heroes with problems’ the FF struggled with the bills, finding a parking spot and escaping the press while battling world-threatening entities. It’s common practice now, but at the time the standard practice was to portray superheroes as lantern-jawed do-gooders without a sliver of personality. In sharp contrast, the Marvel superheroes were all personality!
A mixture of science fantasy and superheroics, the Fantastic Four were explorers of the strange and wonderful, themselves transformed into freaks by weird cosmic rays. The unique quality that remains a hallmark of the FF is that they are a family. They argue and disagree, but there is a bond that cannot be broken within the team that makes them special. Artist/writer Jack Kirby is also a large part of the success of the Fantastic Four as his signature style left an indelible mark on comics. The collaboration of Lee and Kirby on the FF is legendary and shaped the future of modern comic books for generations.
Throughout the many years, there have been several different creative teams on the Fantastic Four and different lineups as well (my personal favorites include the John Byrne run and the current Jonathan Hickman series). There have also been cartoons and a pair of motion pictures (unless you count the Roger Corman one and that makes three).
Unlike most, I hardly damn the two Fantastic Four movies as awful, they are lacking some superb quality that should have been evident on screen. Seriously, these movies should have had all the impact of The Avengers and the end result felt thrown together in places, mostly in the portrayal of Doctor Doom. However, the family dynamic, hokey humor and action were well displayed and Michael Chiklis as the Thing was inspired while future Captain America Chris Evans as Johnny Storm nearly stole the show. However, Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd had zero chemistry as Sue Storm and Reed Richards and that’s inexcusable.
Since the Avengers is the third highest grissing movie in the history of film… 20th Century Fox want to give it another try. As Chris Evans stated after the second FF, the films were not major hits but it showed audiences and the studio that such a movie could be done.
Maybe third time is the charm?
‘Chronicle’ director picked for ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot
Via Movies MSN.com
July 12, 2012, 11:15 AM EST
By Brent Lang
Twentieth Century Fox has tapped Josh Trank to spruce up its “Fantastic Four” franchise, a studio spokeswoman told TheWrap.
2004’s “Fantastic Four” (©Twentieth Century Fox)
The 28-year-old director made a big splash last spring with his low-budget feature “Chronicle,” a found-footage film that tracked three high school students with telekinetic abilities.
Made for a mere $12 million (roughly the cost of the bagel and cream cheese budget on “Rise of the Silver Surfer”), “Chronicle” racked up strong critical reviews and $126.6 million at the worldwide box office.
It appears that Fox is taking a page from Warner Bros. and Sony’s strategies for Spider-Man and Batman, by taking an up-and-coming director without a lot of big-budget experience and allowing him to find the heart in a comic book franchise. The first two “Fantastic Four” movies were financially successful, earning over $600 million globally, but the consensus among many fans and critics was that they were loud and dumb.
The Fantastic Four are a superpowered family who routinely save the world but also have to grapple with infighting and jealousy. Now it’s up to Trank to discover the spark that makes them sizzle.