Breaking Down the Fantastic Four Trailer Shot by Shot

Hello, dear readers. This is Chris and I love doing trailer breakdowns to see what we can learn. I also love Fantastic Four. Oh, let me be clear. I love the comics. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built an incredible sci-fi family superhero mashup that in many ways defines who and what Marvel Comics are and can be.

But Marvel doesn’t have the film rights to Fantastic Four. They were dealing with bankruptcy in the 90s and sold the film rights to 20th Century Fox. Fox made two mediocre versions of the FF in the early 00s that didn’t do super well. But superhero movies are popular and they don’t want to lose the rights so they rushed a remake into production to retain the rights. I figured it was unfair to break down this trailer if I’m predisposed to want it to bomb. So I brought in cheery angel and regular Robot’s Pajamas writer/reviewer Rev. Ron Swanson (that is his real name folks) to help me with it. Let’s break this thing down.

manhattan

Chris: Manhattan. The Fantastic Four have traditionally operated out of New York but at the same time, I think any city would work and New York may be overused. But I certainly won’t fault them for using this place as their setting. We know where it is, we know it’s packed with people so if anything dangerous happens, the stakes are high because lots of lives are involved.

Ron: Well, that’s definitely a city.  It seems to have a centrally located park and has a york-y feel to it.  I’m guessing this is Chicago.

Chris: Ron Swanson: World Traveller.

board room meeting

Ron: I’m liking the decor in this board room.  If I ever have a board room, I’d want it to look like this. Needs a ball pit though.

Chris: I guess it’s a scientific foundation or organization of some sort since the portraits seem science-y. And that’s actor Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm, father to Fantastic Four members Susan and Johnny Storm.

jerk businessmen

Chris: Hey, it’s the Leader. I mean actor Tim Blake Nelson, who played the Leader in The Incredible Hulk.

Ron: Remember when his storyline of becoming the Leader in the MCU was resolved with a comic book and NOT a follow-up to The Incredible Hulk?

Chris: Wait, what comic book?

Ron: A prelude to The Avengers. I only learned of its existence through Wikipedia.

Chris: News to me.

dr storm

Ron: I know Reg E. Cathey has done a lot of work and is a tremendous actor but I’ll always remember him from Square One TV.

Chris: I have no idea what you’re talking about, Ron and I forget how to use Google.

So this movie is obviously based more on the Ultimate Comics version of Fantastic Four. Because in the original Marvel version he was just a washed up surgeon that got into gambling trouble. But in the comics reboot in Ultimate, he was the head of the Baxter Building Project and mentor to the Fantastic Four.

Ron:  Square One TV was an educational show that aired on PBS in the late 80s to the early 90s.

reed richards

Chris: Here is Miles Teller as Reed Richards. I can’t believe an actual American actor is playing a superhero! He’s pretty young here (the actor is 28) and wears glasses, further confirming that this is based off the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics.

Ron: I was on the fence about Teller because he left a bad taste in my mouth with 21 & Over but after watching Whiplash, I’m not too concerned about his acting chops… but he does look very young to be Mr. Fantastic.

Chris: I’m glad you continue to see every movie ever filmed. That’s why I needed your perspective. Because I have no clue who this dude is.

Ron: I have a lot of time on my hands. Instead of drugs and booze, I fill it with movies.

Reed richards inspects the baxter building

Chris: Did you read the Ultimate Fantastic Four books, Ron? Or regular Fantastic Four?

Ron:  I’ve never read any of the FF Ultimate books.  I use to read some of the old books and kinda lost interest in them after the Onslaught incident that caused them to enter a new universe.

Chris: I’d definitely recommend folks read the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run. Over 100 issues. Lots of fun stuff. It’s very dated in the 60s but easy to find in affordable collected editions. John Byrne also had a lengthy run in the 80s as writer and artist where he added a lot to the characters, especially their enemy Dr. Doom. And I’m a big fan of the Walt Simonson run as well where he came up with all sorts of cool sci-fi ideas. And more recently, Jonathan Hickman really built up the family aspects of the title as well as huge, epic stakes.

the baxter building

Chris: The Baxter Building first appeared in 1962 in Fantastic Four #1. It was where the Fantastic Four lived and worked on science experiments. In 2004, Marvel published a rebooted version of Fantastic Four (the previously mentioned Ultimate Fantastic Four) where the Baxter Building is a US Government-funded think tank. It was specifically set up to train gifted children to use their intelligence to work on science. The big project Reed Richards and pals get involved in is an experiment to enter an alternate dimension they name the N-Zone. It’s based on the original Fantastic Four comics’ visits to The Negative Zone. But this version is less fun and more realistic. Nerd lesson over.

Ron: The Baxter Building is also known for its one-of-a-kind restrooms. That’s a fact that I just made up.

Chris: Well now I want to know what makes them so unique?

Ron: State-of-the-art towel dispensers, I’d imagine. And fire-proof toilet seats.

sue storm does computers

 

Ron: I have to say that Kate Mara is a big step up for the character of Sue. Jessica Alba was no bueno.

Chris: I agree there. Alba isn’t the worst but she wasn’t a great Sue Storm. Kate Mara seems a lot more interesting and I thought she was pretty great on House of Cards.

And as we can see in this shot, Donatello ain’t the only one who does machines.

sue storm studies at the library

Chris: Studying with actual books? Pfft. Actress Kate Mara said she was going to read Fantastic Four comics for inspiration but director Josh Trank told her not to bother. That’s a great sign. Writer Kinberg pointed out that the movie is not based on any one story. Hey, you have the rights to the characters, why bother telling some of their best stories?

Ron: Haven’t these people heard of Google?  But yes, it is a little worrisome that the director said “Nah” to do a little research on the comic’s rich history.

reed richards meets johnny storm

Ron: Spoiler Alert: Reed will later have Johnny do all his welding later.

Chris: I think actor Michael B. Jordon is another solid casting choice. He has the lighthearted energy that fits Johnny Storm’s character. I just find it odd that they’d then cast Kate Mara as his sister and then need to include an adoption background. That’s out of nowhere. Just cast a black actress as Sue and change their ethnicity together. Totally unimportant what ethnicity they are but the adoption background is odd.

the storm family are scientists

Chris: Wait. Holy shit, that’s Toby Kebbel. He plays whatever this movie’s version of Dr. Doom is. But I didn’t realize he’d be working alongside them. I am frustrated with this movie’s take on the character. In the comics, he’s a genius on equal footing with Reed Richards but he’s arrogant so he will never admit to a mistake. He has one such error when he and Reed go to University together that Reed points out and he won’t fix. It ends with an accident that gives him a minor scar and he’s so vain he creates a mask and becomes Dr. Doom. But he also takes over his homeland, Latveria. He is super powerful and easily the most dangerous villain in Marvel Comics, yet he also has a skewed code of nobility. This movie’s version apparently makes him an angry programmer.

Ron: Can’t wait to see Doctor Doom’s vicious blogging skills!

Chris: Johnny brokeded his arm.

johnny storm drives fast

Ron: Insert Hack Taco Bell Joke here.

Chris: Oh boy, a new Fast and Furious movie! I’d see that? Oh… it’s just Johnny Storm driving fast to let us know he’s a hothead. Got it. The car flames are now a bit on-the-nose, knowing he becomes Human Torch.

ben grimm at university

Chris: British actor Jaime Bell as Ben Grimm/the Thing? Seriously? They couldn’t find a Noo Yawk actor for this role? He’s SO American. Anyway, this scene seems to take place at University where Ben and Reed are classmates. Their friendship is pretty important. They’re as close as brothers.

Ron: Michael Chiklis was one of the few things I truly enjoyed about the first two Fantastic Four films. While Jamie Bell is a good actor (in the right roles), he is a hard sell for me as Ben Grimm.

ben grimm hits baseballs

Ron: Things are looking kinda…gimm?  Eh?  I’ll show myself out.

Chris: How much effort did Ben Grimm go to to get a car up on that pole AND make neon letters of his own name on it, just to then knock them out with baseballs? That seems like a lot of time he could have dedicated to his studies.

reed richards flirts with sue

Chris: Reed flirts with Sue. Lazily.

Ron: This is the same face a lot of my friends made when they heard they were rebooting the Fantastic Four.

sue storm flirts with reed

Ron: These guys sure like their science. I hope nothing bad happens to them because of it.

Chris: Sue lazily flirts back. What a powerful romance this movie gives us. The Reed Richards/Sue Storm romance was huge in the comics and built up to an epic wedding. It really cemented that this team was a family first, scientists second, and superheroes third.

baxter building has a sci fi machine

Chris: The original comics were made during Cold War fears of Commies and a space race to prove who was better. So the Fantastic Four rushed to space but didn’t have proper ship shielding and they were bombarded by cosmic rays which gave them their powers. The Ultimate comics version had them accessing another dimension, which is suitably sci-fi for today’s day and age. I’m totally okay with that update.

Ron: Set design was clearly inspired by the tube things at your local bank.

reed richards does not fist bump johnny storm properly

Ron: Sure, this is funny but I’m guilty of trying to high-five a fist bump.

Chris: Actual humor. It’s a decent gag. Better than, like Human Torch lighting Thing’s farts on fire.

johnny storm and someone else suit up

Chris: So here’s grumpy (?) Johnny Storm suiting up with Domashev for this dimension experiment. Why they’re having a non-scientist and a programmer go with them, I’ll leave to the movie to explain.

Ron: Michael B. Jordan is a helluva actor and I was all for him being cast the second it was announced. I just hope Doom’s blogging skills get put to the test in this film.

Chris: Remember, you’re supposed to be the positive side of this movie. You’re doing my work for me.

Ron: That’s the one thing I can’t forgive. I’m trying to overlook that fact but he’s a blogger!

Chris: You’re bigoted against bloggers.

Ron: And I am one! I’m a self-hating blogger!

fantastic four enter chambers

Ron: I seriously have to hand it to the set designers, these sets look legit.

Chris: I guess so. I have no opinion one way or another. But I sure hope none of these characters are claustrophobic.

Ron: As a man who suffers from claustrophobia, I’m already freaking out about being stuck in that tube.

businessmen witness fantastic four launch

Chris: So here’s the Baxter Building folks watching this experiment start, including the previously mentioned Tim Blake Nelson. I just looked it up and he plays Harvey Elder. Who’s that? Actually, the oldest and weirdest Fantastic Four villain – the Mole Man. He lives underground and controls monsters that live down there. I wonder if this movie will end with him smiling as he discovers “mole goggles” or something and then this movie doesn’t do well so once again he doesn’t actually get to play a supervillain (Incredible Hulk ended with him starting to get the Leader’s powers, but there was never another solo Hulk movie).

Ron: I didn’t realize he’s playing the Mole Man (or what constitutes the Mole Man in this reboot).  There is probably going to be a mole pun at some point.

reed richards sees an alternate dimension

Ron: In fairness, they didn’t actually “walk” into Mordor.

Chris: I’m okay with their version of the N-Zone, but I would love a Fantastic Four that really embraced the epic, super science vision of the comics. The Negative Zone has awesome enemies like Annihilus who wants to end all life, and all sorts of other great weirdos.

fantastic four run from something

Chris: The team is running from something but I can’t tell what. I hope it’s more exciting than, like, some lava.

Ron: I hope it’s the tickle monster. Wouldn’t that be a curve ball?

Chris: It would not be the curve ball I want. I want Annihilus, damnit.

someone falls in alternate dimension

Ron: Who would have thought a trip to the Negative Zone would end so badly?

Chris: I assume it’ll all be Doom’s fault. But it would be an interesting twist if Reed made a mistake as well. He did when he never properly shielded the spaceship in the original comics and it lead to Ben Grimm turning into the rocky Thing which he always feels guilty about.

I can’t tell who is falling there. It’s either Domashev or Grimm.

reed richards crawls through wreckage

Chris: Reed crawls out of the wreckage of their dimensional hopper. Guess the trip there gave ‘em their powers.

Ron: Well, this looks horrifying.

military in control of fantastic four

Ron: Trailers pretty much come pre-equipped with shots of suited men walking down bland corridors now.

Chris: I am not a fan of the color palette. Too muted and dark. And the military stuff? Just does not belong in a scientist/exploration movie. At least not as a central element.

reed richards stretches arm

Chris: It’s hard to make stretching look “cool” but that’s okay. Reed’s brain has always been his main power and his stretchiness is secondary. This looks okay.

Ron: Reed’s stretching abilities already look infinitely more convincing than in the last FF films.

human torch cannot control flame

Ron: The folks in the booth look way too calm. I would be screaming, “HE’S BURNING AGAIN!!!!” At first, it would be screams of horror but then I would be screaming because it’s pretty awesome.

Chris: He has no control at this point because there’s a half a second shot right after this of his flames bursting through that glass and everyone observing ducking. I’m sure they still got singed eyebrows.

sue storm turns invisible

Chris: This is Sue Storm turning into Invisible Woman. She disappears with her central nervous system still lingering for a brief moment. It’s straight out of the awful movie Invisible Man with Kevin Bacon but that movie DID have good effects for its time. I wonder if a huge budget movie like this ever considers simply having her go invisible and using no special effects?

Ron: How come secret research facilities cut corners on lighting? The room is a little dim to be a research room.

thing emerges from rock caccoon

Ron: This part is a little strange…is Ben being born from a rock egg?

Chris: It’s totally some sort of cocoon. That’s new.

 first look at Thing face

Chris: Our first clear shot of Thing. It’s not horrible but it could definitely be better. No prominent brow, and the nose to jaw isn’t quite right either. Since this looks like it might be CG (and it is well done at that) there’s no excuse. Get Thing right. He’s a monster but an adorable one.

Ron: The brow is still not here but the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing looks more like rock than the rubber suit version in the last films. So there’s that.

invisible woman uses force field

Ron: Sue looks like her powers are a little more aggressive than from what we saw with Alba’s Sue Storm.

Chris: Sue Storm is easily the most powerful on the team. Those shipping containers never stood a chance.

fantastic four looks at energy spire

Ron: “Let’s just watch this and see where it goes…”

Chris: What is that airplane thing doing in the energy? This looks like it could be either in the N-Zone or our world. They’re all suited up so it’s probably the final act fight scene stuff.

sue storm looks at panama map

Chris: Oh no! Trouble in Panama! Panama!

Ron: They’re going to play some Van Halen at this point, right?

human torch flame on

Ron: Is that a keyboard on his arm?

Chris: It seriously looks like the Nintendo Power Glove. The suits have some interesting texture to them, but why can’t they have some bright blue and a big “4” on them?!

Ron: Yeah, the simple suits in the last films were fine.

face of doom

Chris: Our first shot of Doom. It’s… it’s halfway accurate. He has his hood and cloak. He has some sort of metal mask. But I don’t think it actually is a mask. It looks sort of organic. Dr. Doom wears a suit of armor that’s Iron Man-level.

Ron: I know I’m suppose to be the positive one in this breakdown but this mask (or organic face peel, whatever it is) looks like something a college drama major would have hanging on her dorm wall.

Chris: I don’t want his face to be part of superpowers. Dr. Doom built his own powers, like Iron Man. A suit of armor and all sorts of science based weapons. In the comics, he’s also an amateur with magic, because his mother was sent to hell and he wants to rescue her. That’s an awesome element of who this character is. His machine that blew up in his face was an attempt to enter hell as a dimension, using science. It’s a motivation I can comprehend anyway. It’s better than just “wants to destroy everything.”

Ron: Doom is a pretty easy character to get right but it seems Fox is very good at getting him wrong.

energy explosion in manhattan

Ron: I get the feeling this is Sue losing control.

Chris: At first I thought this could be Invisible Woman or Dr. Doom. But it’s emanating from a building so I bet it’s from when the team goes to the N-Zone in the Baxter Building.

human torch flies across the mountains

Chris: Well, I guess Human Torch can fly. But where does this take place? So far we’ve seen New York a lot and some alternate dimension full of volcanoes but this looks like pleasant mountain terrain. Somewhere near Panama? Latveria, the European kingdom of Doom?

Ron: In the real world, Johnny would get blamed for Chemtrails.

doom goes to alternate dimension

Ron: Doom is looking pretty badass here.  I could see this airbrushed on a van.

Chris: My ideal version of Doom would never stand for a tattered cape. He would punish his tailor or his dry cleaner. For real. Also, the N-Zone sure doesn’t seem to have much to offer.

Ron:  There has to be at least ONE Starbucks somewhere in there though.

Chris: Well, yeah. Of course.

human torch chases someone through a mountain

Chris: This shot features Human Torch chasing something that’s white energy. It is powerful because here it is smashing through a mountain like nothing. I don’t know whether it’s Doom or something else. Reminds me of Human Torch chasing Silver Surfer in Fox’s last Fantastic Four movie (a scene I really enjoyed).

Ron: That scene was really cool. This shot also kinda looks like it’s Sue’s powers. Are they giving her the power of flight with her powers?

Chris: That would be new.

fantastic four logo

Ron: Wait, this was a trailer for the Fantastic Four?

Chris: Fantastic Four in name only.

stealth bomber in fantastic four

 

Chris: A stealth bomber. Because this is gritty and real world. No Fantasticars or Pogo Planes here. Get your fun superhero stuff a month earlier in Ant-Man, kid.

Ron: I hope Steven Seagal is flying that bomber.

Chris: His best cinematic moment was dying in act one of Executive Decision. I heard he held up production on that film last minute, arguing he should stay alive and be the hero.

military oversees a fantastic four mission

Ron: They all have the faces of people who were promised sandwiches but learned a terrible truth when they arrived.

Chris: “We need two extras as generals and two more as contractors. Nah, we don’t need character actors. That’d be too fun.”

Okay, so in this scene, Reed tells these military guys two minutes until the payload lands. Then…

Thing drops from a stealth jet with no parachute

Chris: We see the bomber isn’t dropping a bomb, but Thing. That’s fun. More of this would make me more excited.

Ron: It’s the Thing’s Kool-Aid Man moment. Oh Yeah!

Thing lands on a humvee

Ron: So, the Fantastic Four is just wasting our taxpayer dollars by pointlessly destroying stuff?  Okay.

Chris: Thing lands on this humvee like a bomb. It’s pretty cool but I also don’t care for the Fantastic Four getting involved in military operations like this. They are scientists and explorers. They investigate the weirdest corners of the Marvel Universe. Space travel, alternate dimensions, hidden societies, and time travel. They don’t get involved in politics. They try to invent things that make the world a better place. I really hope this is not, say, the Middle East. If for some reason it’s Doom’s kingdom of Latveria, MAYBE I can understand them getting involved. But that Humvee kinda looks like what we use.

So what did you LIKE in this trailer, Ron? Are you excited to see it?

Ron: I definitely dig the look of Thing and the cast, albeit young, are a talented bunch. I guess what I’m truly excited about is seeing what is going to be new and different. That’s usually what sells me with reboots. I wouldn’t say I’m excited to see it, I’m more curious than anything.

  • Big Jim

    “But this version is less fun and more realistic.”

    That sums up why I’m so wary of this movie. The “need” to be all dark and gritty. It’s the Fantastic Four – it’s supposed to be fun and larger than life. You know, fantastical. I can hope for something akin to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, but I fear what we’re getting is another GREEN LANTERN.

    Oh, and basing it on the Ultimate Series? Good idea. Why use a source material that’s had a marathon run spanning decades when you can use one that was barely able to limp to the five year mark?