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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Understanding The Fantastic Four: Part 1

While I enjoyed the new Fantastic Four movie, a lot of people didn't. Some fans hated it, and shared their outrage on social media. Casual superhero fans heard this outrage, took to heart the critics' poor reports (When do critics rate comic book movies highly?), and decided to spend their money on other movies. Some fans have even ranted about how terrible the movie is online, without having first made an effort to see it. But I'm convinced that most people simply didn't understand where the director and script writers were coming from in telling their story. So I thought I'd take a break from these posts on England to explain the movie to anyone who might be interested. 

The first thing you need to know is the source material for this movie is based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four series, which rebooted the classic series for Marvel's Ultimate Universe line. This series was the brainchild of Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis, two powerhouse writers beloved by comics readers. Both have written stories that have been adapted into movies. For Mark Millar, some stories of his that have been made into movies include Kick-Ass, Wanted, and this year's Kingsman: The Secret Service. Brian Michael Bendis has served as a consultant on Marvel-related animated TV shows, including Ultimate Spider-Man, and his series Powers has been adapted into a TV series. So it's safe to assume that Hollywood takes many of its cues from Millar and Bendis when making superhero movies and TV shows.

Ultimate Fantastic Four reimagines all the characters younger, and starts off with Reed Richard, a young boy struggling through school, brilliant but misunderstood. When he falls prey to bullies, Ben Grimm stands up for him and defends him. As a result, Reed welcomes him into his world. Even at a young age, he knows what he wants to do. Teleportation--the ability to instantly transport oneself from one location to another--has long been the stuff of science fiction. He wants to make it a reality. He looks to the real of real science, in which other dimensions are postulated. His idea is to use one or more of these other dimensions as a transit path or gateway. Or, as he explains to Ben Grimm about these other realms:

Reed: No, no, it's it's everywhere. It's all around us. There's, well, there's any number of dimensions of--of time and space right on top of us and next to us and under us and around the world that we live in.

We live in this one and we're genetically custom-made to fit here--on the planet. And well, right next to us, right here, right any number of other places and times. Any number of them. I mean, this is common knowledge. This is--yeah.

We just can't see or feel them. But they're there... They've always been there.

Ben: Dude, you are freaking me out.

Ben Grimm may not be able to visualize what Reed is trying to explain, but his ideas are drawn from current scientific speculation. Unfortunately, Reed's father is far less accepting of Reed's brilliance, especially when he takes apart household appliances and uses the components to build his teleportation devices. But Reed carries on, despite his father's displeasure and disbelief in him, and later presents his invention at the school science fair.

Reed: Whether it can be done (transported) for larger systems, such as atoms, remains a mystery. But my hypothesis here today is that instead of disembodiment, the real key to teleportation may be shifting objects through a parallel dimension. Shifting the objects through dimensions similar to our own, that are using the same space as our own. Once equations are properly calculated to breach this space, one would imagine that this kind of teleportation could, in fact, change every part of our society.

Starving people could have food distributed to them in an instant. Our transportation systems would totally change. The possibilities are endless. But this is only phase seven of my project. I can only transport a small object one way. Hopefully, by next year, I will personally be able to go and get my---uh... 

Well, uh... Maybe I'll just show you what I am talking about. Um, okay... You, uh, you might want to step back.

At this point, the fireworks start, and when they finish, Reed's model car has vanished, and the man wearing the red beret gets out his cell phone, dials a number, and says, "Yeah, it's me, Lumpkin. Found one."

A key difference between the film and the movie at this point is that, in the comic, Reed has only transported subatomic particles there and back again. Large items, such as the model car, have disappeared and proved unretrievable. But when the people on the other end of Lumpkin's cell phone invite Reed to join the prestigious, government-funded think tank operated by Professor Storm, he discovers that the team have built a much larger teleportation device. Within its confines, he can visibly see these other dimensions, or at least the gateway leading to them. And within them, floating like items cast into the ocean, are the model toys Reed has sent away with his small invention, but been unable to retrieve. 

Doesn't it stir your soul, to see an idealistic, hard-working person's years of creativity and persistence validated?

Dragon Dave

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