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Monday, August 24, 2015

Understanding The Fantastic Four: Part 3

"Better run, T-Rex. It's clobbering time!"

The Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series championed the brilliance and idealism of youth. It proved popular with fans, lasting for 60 issues, far longer than most Marvel comic book series endure these days. And ultimately, it served as a basis for this year's new Fantastic Four movie. The only question is: will anyone bother to see it?

Hollywood can be a strange place for a writer to navigate. Stories, or properties, are bought and sold, and most often not made into films or TV series. But whether these stories get made or don't get made, whether contracts are fulfilled or expire, buying rights to stories back, once they've been sold, can be a tricky business, argued out over years or decades via lawyers and the courts. Currently, Disney, a vast multimedia conglomerate that owns Marvel, Lucasfilm, and the ABC TV network (among, no doubts, hundreds or thousands of other media companies), are embroiled in a battle to win back the rights to make their own Fantastic Four movies. So they obviously don't want this new movie, made by a rival studio, to succeed. Marvel has also done some interesting things lately, including canceling the Fantastic Four comic book, and killing off the actors portraying the Fantastic Four in the movie in an issue of The Punisher

Sometimes, you really don't need that extra caffeine.

This situation no doubt puts Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis is a difficult situation. Here's a movie, which seems a fairly faithful adaptation of their story, and they're not allowed to promote it or celebrate its release. It pits two writers who have lived their lives regaling us with wondrous stories against other writers and artists who are attempting to translate their story into another medium. And in the process, it puts all of us, as readers and viewers, into a dilemma: Should we support Marvel and boycott this movie? Or should we embrace it and celebrate it for what it is, recognizing how true to Millar and Bendis' reimagined characters and story the filmmakers have remained? 

Prevent pest infestations before they start with
the Ultimate Fantastic Exterminators.

Still, I suppose we can't feel too bad for these two creators. Two years ago, the Queen awarded British citizen Mark Millar with an MBE for his services to film and literature. American Brian Michael Bendis has garnered plenty of awards over the years, and last week even celebrated his birthday. It seems an odd time and way to celebrate one's birthday, let alone the translation of one's story onto the silver screen, amid controversy and battles over ownership of classic characters and stories. But then, Bendis loves to tell stories about superheroes. And if there's one thing we know about superheroes, when they're not rescuing the innocent or defeating villains, they're fighting each other. This fact was illustrated most profoundly, perhaps, by Mark Millar's Civil War series, which serves as the basic for next year's Captain America movie. So perhaps it's fitting that, while the superheroes fight each other, Disney and Fox should be battling it out over who gets to make movies about the Fantastic Four.

Dr. Doom: the reason every smart homeowner buys Fire Insurance.

As for me, all I can suggest is that you see this movie and decide its merits for yourself. Ultimately, that's what superheroes are supposed to be fighting for anyway, isn't it? The ability for each of us to decide how to think and act, instead of allowing far more powerful entities to dominate our outlook and actions. That's certainly what young Reed Richards was trying to do, in the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics, when he struggled against parents and school teachers who didn't understand him, and persisted with his experiments to develop the world's first working teleportation system.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Marvel Influences in the new Fantastic Four movie
Cast of FF movie killed in Punisher comic
Is Marvel sabotaging FF and X-Men movies?

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