Cookie Warning

Warning: This blog may contain cookies. Just as cookies fresh out of the oven may burn your mouth, electronic cookies can harm your computer. Visit all kitchens and blogs (yes, including this one) with care.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Understanding The Fantastic Four: Part 2

In the Ultimate Fantastic Four origin story, written by Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis, Reed Richards leaves school to join the government-funded think tank run by Dr. Storm. There he meets Dr. Storm's children, Sue and Johnny, as well as Victor Van Damme. He spends four years there, working with other scientific prodigies to help iron out the problems in the experimental teleportation machine the group has constructed. Victor, meanwhile, works on his own projects, and never deigns to speak to anyone. Then, one day, Reed returns to his room, to find Victor there, going through his notes.

Reed: What are you doing, Victor?

Get out of here! This is my room!
Victor: You're doing them wrong.

Reed: Hey, what? You can't touch that!
Victor: You're attempting to calculate the densities as if they still held a gravity.
Reed: You can't touch my--these are my formulas!
Victor: You don't know the gravity equation in the--

Reed may force Victor out of his room that night, but later realizes that Victor is intelligent, and his participation may help speed the realization of his dream. So he approaches Victor, and asks him if he will join his team. 

Victor may be as intelligent as Reed, but he doesn't understand what Reed is doing. His overwhelming self-belief keeps him doubting Reed's conclusions. So he continually fiddles with Reed's calculations, and when the final test comes, of teleporting something organic through the machine (an apple), he corrects Reed's numbers again. Instead of teleporting the apple, the machine expands the field outward, drawing himself, Reed, Sue and Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm into another dimension. When they emerge, this descrambling of their atoms, similar to the transporter systems on the USS Enterprise in the TV series Star Trek, has changed their physical forms. Instead of reassembling their bodies correctly, they are now, and will forever more, be known as Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing, The Human Torch, and Doctor Doom.

Victor may be intelligent, but his belief in his own infallibility gives him a god complex. Like so many intellectuals, he knows exactly how to order the world so that it functions at maximum efficiency. Unlike Reed, he cannot truly work with others. He believes he should be in charge, and anyone whose beliefs or actions are at variance with his becomes his enemy. And, as any enemy threatens the proper structure he wishes to impose on the world, they and all their allies are dangerous and must be destroyed.

This, naturally, makes all human governments his enemies.

The new Fantastic Four movie draws their conception of Victor from this template laid down by Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis. When the military continually frustrate his efforts, he leaves Dr. Storm's think tank to continue his work elsewhere, and destroys the group's computers (and presumably, much of their progress) on the way out. After Reed joins the group, Dr. Storm reaches out to Victor, who has not achieved his goals on his own, and convinces him to return to the Baxter Building. Unlike Reed, Victor has not learned humility. He will continue to believe that he should be in charge, that he should be running not just the think tank, but the world. And after he and the others are physically changed, and the military take complete charge of the think tank, Victor realizes that, regardless of how powerful he becomes, he will never be able to control everyone on Earth. 

People who truly wish to help and empower others would channel this realization into working with the present system to achieve their desired goals. Victor choses a different path, a more destructive one. But I'll let you discover how he responds to the world's rejection as he sees it, and how he earns the name Dr. Doom, should you venture out to the cinema to see The Fantastic Four.

Dragon Dave

No comments:

Post a Comment