Let’s face it, the Superhero Movie Genre has given us very few genuinely good movies and that’s a sad thing. I have seen most of the Comic book based movies and in this series I am breaking them down. Why do they end up stinking so bady. Much of this has to do with my Rifftrax addiction. The result is that I have been watching a lot of them lately.

Rifftrax of Daredevil

First, let me give you a list of the films in the genre that I actually think are good. Now I realize that this is my opinion and it is very subjective, so feel free to comment on why you think I am wrong. (Or more likely right.) I will reply to everyone.

The original Superman
Superman Returns (Borderline)
Tim Burton’s first Batman film
Batman Begins
Spiderman (Borderline)
Spiderman 2 (haven’t seen 3 yet)
Xmen (Very Borderline)
Xmen 2
Hellboy

Maybe one day I will get around to posting the reasons why I think that those films were good in depth, but for now let me just say that they best capture the spirit of the comics they portray and grasped what made them so popular.

The good films also don’t include The Cardinal Sins of Superhero Movie Making:

1. Don’t give any creative control to the original creators of the heroes.
2. Don’t take the characters seriously.
3. Change the characters (Including their powers) and or the storyline.
4. The one big goofy scene. (The one that doesn’t fit the rest of the film and really has to do with #1. But sometimes a movie would be borderline good without the one stupid scene. Example: Daredevil fighting Elektra for no reason in the kiddie park. (see my previous post on the subject here)

Today I will break down two films that partake in all four sins. Appropriately they are titled Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four 2

Fantastic Four One:
Fantastic? Sheesh

First of all let me say that I was never a big fan of the Fantastic Four. I never collected that book. I knew about them because they were a big part of the Marvel Lexicon, but I was not attatched to them. Still, I cant help but be irritated by the lack of respect the characters are given.

One major problem with this film is that it feels like a film that was created by a bunch of executives sitting around a conference table. I can almost hear the meeting in my head . . . . .

Dude with big fat cigar – “Boys, this film won’t fly. The concept is too out of date. A bunch of adult heroes fighting another old guy? Who is going to watch that? This is a comic book movie. It needs to appeal to teenagers and ten year olds.”

Up and coming gay film executive – “I know. It is totally not flashy enough. It needs some sparkle. First of all, none of our heroes can look out of their twenties. Also that Dr. Doom guy. Eww. Too old. Too stodgy. Who identifies with that kind of villian?”

Lone geek resistance – “Wait a minute. That won’t fly with our existing fan base. For instance Ben Grimm can’t be some 20-something. His character is a veteran pilot.”

Up and coming gay film executive – “I hear Michael Chiklis is available . . . .”

Dude with big fat cigar – “Done. This meeting is adjourned.”

So they decide to young-it-up. Unfortunately, this makes the plot ridiculous. Having a young wunderkind scientist is a movie cliche. So lets make a movie with four wunderkinds (including a 30-something Dr Doom) and Michael Chiklis (who will be covered in makeup for most of the movie anyway so it won’t matter.)

Sure Jessica Alba is hot, so I can see why they would be tempted to go there. But why make Reed Richards a 20-something? Mr Fantastic is like a 50’s movie macho scientist that happens to have superpowers, not a geeky young scientist. They even had to give him his trademark gray hair as a plot device so that they wouldn’t have to make him old. (They then make sure he puts just for men on it so that it is barely noticeable.) The only character it fits is Johnny Storm who was always a young hot shot in the comics.

But the characters don’t mesh well, their popularity with the citizens of the city doesn’t even make sense. Here is a Rifftraxed scene that illustrates the point.

Their biggest sin though was to completely change the character of Doctor Doom. Doctor doom was a scientist with a scarred face that wore a mask to cover it. He had no powers. His armor gave him strength and has weaponry built into it. The only thing the movie got right was that he knew Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in college.

Instead they make him a big executive in a corporation who wants to marry Sue storm and foes to space with the Fantastic Four, basically making this the Fantastic Five. They give him powers like being able to shoot electricity from his fingertips and a body made of metal. Thenhe decides to be evil on a whim, leading to the big battle at the end.

Why? Why change the character at all? Does it make the Fantastic Four more youthful if Doctor doom is different? Why change the story? AArgh!

Things that worked:
1. They handled Thing’s subplot pretty well and even though he is missing his trademark jutting jaw, he still looks good.
2. Johnny storm, even though a much bigger prick than in the comics, is pretty spot on.
3. The special effects were pretty good.
4. It wasn’t Catwoman.

Potential 8.5 out of ten. Where did they land? 5

Well, the film still made more money than they spent on it. This just encouraged the boardroom executives I’m afraid. They made a sequel.

Fantastic Four 2:
That's right, the Fantastic Four go number 2

This Film is widely considered better than the first one. I can’t really disagree plot wise. Still, boardroom executives seem to rule the day. In their wake a lot of the movie is badly scarred with stupidity.

Once again they mess with the villain. Galactus is one of the major villains in Marvel Comic history. A huge godlike being that devours the life from worlds to exist. Now he is an amorphous cloud of space debris. How exactly he destroys planets is difficult to discern. I suppose that they could in a later film (*shudders*) pretend like Galactus was somewhere in the middle of that cloud of debris, but why? Again, why change this point?

Also cardinal sin #2 comes into play. The Goofy Reed Richards Dance scene. Never has an actor looked so out of place. Here I will show you the Rifftraxed version of the scene, just because it makes it a little more bearable.

Ugh, have you ever seen a more stupid scene? The special effects are lame, the crowd reaction is unrealistic. It makes Reed Richard look like a 12-year old dork with powers. (Notice that his gray hair is almost nonexistent at this point?)
Reed Richards recommends it

They also make The Thing nothing more than comic relief. Seriously, he does nothing but act gruff and get made fun of. It’s like the board room guys got together and decided that the film sounded too dark. A being is trying to kill everything on the planet.

Solution:
“Lets make Ben Grimm wackier and more hip hop.”
Boardroom reaction?
“Brilliant!”

Things done well:
1. The handling of the Silver Surfer character. They don’t make him prone to wacky dance scenes.
2. The interaction of the characters seems more natural. Maybe The first movie just makes us used to it.
3. They try to fix Dr. Doom. They use the Silver Surfer as a plot device to take away Doom’s stupid metal skin. He finally dons the traditional suit of armor, though he keeps his electric powers.

Potential (after the first one.) 6 out of ten. Where did they land? 5.5

This movie did not do as well at the box office as the first one, but evidently there are still plans for #3

If the next one has a new director and Marvel is given more creative control maybe it will even be half decent. But it don’t look good.

At least it can’t be as bad as the original movie incarnation from 1994

Click here for part three in the series.

Here for part one.

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