Fantastic Four Movie Mini-Panel

With reports of Disney negotiating a purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie studio among other assets, both Sean Fields and JL Franke had thoughts on what this might mean for the Fantastic Four and a potential MCU reboot, so they did a little mini-panel.  And it's not even Friday!

What Went Wrong in the First Three Movies

SF: The only things worth saving from those films are Chiklis as The Thing and the first 30 minutes of Trank,  until right after they returned from the N Zone. Maybe.  The problem is that FF movies either have to be very modernized or a throwback to that 50s era feel.  FF can be a cooler modern Lost In Space at times.

JF:  I was just thinking the same thing while we were chatting.  Lost in Space but with the Enterprise's level of control over their destiny.  (Or Doctor Who instead of Enterprise.)

The FF's Place in the MCU

SF: I think if they do reboot FF they need to not suffer with one of Green Lantern's problems:  keeping them on Earth.

JF: I agree.  To me, the FF was always about taking on the weird and wonderous in the Marvel U, which fit well their starting point as a counterpart to DC's Challengers of the Unknown.  I want the Watcher (not Stan Lee), cosmic backpacks, and ultimate nullifiers.  And honestly, while the Avengers take on big threats, historically, the FF are the ones who more often take on the earth shattering events.
And let's not forget giant world eaters in purple jump suits.
SF: You either have to go full out or not at all. embrace the ridiculousness.

JF: One thing I think the next movie has to do is avoid being an origin story yet again.  I'd like to see them already established to some degree. Sort of like what Marvel did with Spider-Man.  I'd think the main setup, the powers, and the relationships among the 4 would be easy enough to convey quickly.  It could always flash back to the origin when needed for narrative, though.

SF: I prefer that to another origin film.  My whole thing with this announcement was should they even roll them into the MCU or just keep them self contained. My gut says the latter.

JF: That's a good point.  But I have to wonder if the next Avengers movie is going to clear the field somewhat, providing more space for the FF to do their thing moving forward.  Reed could become the next Tony Stark, inventing everything the MCU needs.

SF: Infinity War and the potential use of the time stone could change up everything, a soft reset to allow other characters and concepts to shine.

JF: I think that's where they're headed.  They can't afford to keep paying RDJ to keep showing up in every other movie.

SF: Some contracts should be up at this point.


JF: I'll go as far as to say Victor needs to be nowhere near the next movie.  I think we need some time away from him.

SF: Good point.  Any use of Victor needs to make him more interesting.

JF: I'm shocked that no one could make an effective villain out of a complete genius lacking morals.  I have no idea why he has to keep getting powers himself.

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
SF: I have another blog where I'm trying to come up with a plan to make the movies more interesting and Vic being the bad guy would only come up in the second movie in a trilogy.  He could have powers but it only works somewhat in a fashion like he had in the Ultimate Universe, just for more connection to the team.

JF: I'd agree with bringing him in for the second movie in a trilogy, as long as Marvel does WB it and suddenly decide to set up a completely different sequel at the last minute.  So who would be the first villain in your opinion?

SF: It could be the same or similar setup as the Trank movie with the Negative Zone and Annihilus be the bad guy. Either directly or infecting someone who goes through with the FF.

JF: Annihilus could work.  I was thinking Mole Man myself.  Something to set up the first big bad as a sfx extravaganza.

SF: My plan was Mole Man to begin the second movie a la the original cover. But that was before I saw GOTG Volume 2 which was pretty much that.

It could still work!
JF: True.  I hadn't connected GotG2 to Mole Man, but I can see it. Namor could be interesting as well.  Just jump right into the love triangle.

Such heat for being underwater.

The Characters

SF: Johnny is easy. The others take work.  It's very funny that both Human Torches are now in the main MCU.

JF: True.  With the campy Torch reminding everyone about their language and the gloomy Torch playing a villain.  It would be nice if they gave Sue more personality.  I found that in both versions, she tended to disappear a bit (pun intended).

SF: I like her way more in the comic book, especially in the Ultimate Universe where she is seriously smart.

And always way more powerful than the movies have shown.
JF: I liked the Ultimate Universe change of making her a scientist.  Both film versions tried that, but weren't all that great at it.  So controversial question: I was not a fan of making Sue and Johnny different races.  I'm fine with them being both white, black, Asian, whatever, but with the F4 Storms being different races, I found myself pulled out of the story a bit wondering what their backstory was: were they half siblings?  Step siblings?  One of them adopted?  Both of them adopted?

SF: I think if your story doesn't suck it doesn't distract, but the problem was it sucked.

JF: Good point.  One problem I have with all the FF movies so far is Reed.  They say Reed's smart, but they don't really show how smart he is.  To me, Reed should be the ultimate Star Trek engineer, spouting technobabble and inventing magic solutions to problems left and right.

If we can understand the dialogue, you're not doing Reed right.
SF: They tried with those first two but yeah, he needs to super nerd it up.  He's nerdy smart not cool Stark smart.

JF: To really fit the comics, he should run rings around Stark.  I mean, Stark can engineer practically anything, but Reed can invent things that shouldn't exist.

SF: Which brings them to anywhere in the universe and accomplishing crazy things/stunts.

JF: Here's a potentially controversial thought: what about starting the film off with Reed and Sue already married and with Franklin either on the way or already here?

SF: With powers and everything established?

JF: Not sure about the powers for Franklin.  Maybe part of the drama is that he starts developing them in the first film?

SF: Franklin's power could be the B plot that becomes the main plot.

JF: I like that.  That provided some of the high drama for the comic.  What do you do when your kid is the most powerful being on the planet?

Hopefully not this.
SF: Ha! Call professor X, that creep.

JF: That always worked out so well for him.

The Cast

SF: I have a cast for my FF movie in my head but they would be on the young side.  I would just use the Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse cast.

Potential Johnny, Jennifer Walters, Reed, Sue, and Ben Grimm. (With less silly outfits of course) -- SF
JF: I'm not familiar.

SF: It was a fun movie but quickly missed.  My idea for Reed is the actor who played Young Cyclops in the X-Men reboot.  Sue is the strong alien girl from The Orville.  The rest haven't been in much, but I think the actress I'd tag for Jennifer Walters is a model.  She was crazy tough in SGZA.

JF: Cool.  I'll look into it!  If we wanted to go with big star power, who would we pick?  I keep coming back to Jennifer Lawrence as my dream Sue.  I want someone tough who can also play the mother figure for the family despite being young.

And she wouldn't have to wear blue makeup all the time.
SF: That's a good call. I like Zachary Levi from Chuck as Reed, but he's about to play Captain Marvel for Warner Bros., so...

Though I doubt the Guardians of the Galaxy will guest-star.
JF: (Really?  I hadn't heard that.  That's perfect for Cap!) If the DC Movies hadn't ruined him for me when it comes to superhero movies... actually, possibly all movies... Jesse Eisenberg could make a fun Reed.  But I have a hard time seeing Eisenberg now without seeing his godawful Luthor.

SF: Gotta picture Social Network Eisenberg.

JF: A Social Network Eisenberg but oddly more reined in.

And a decent haircut.
SF: Yes, less dickish. More focused on betterment of the future for all.

JF: Agreed.  Reed is not Zuckerberg.  But increase his IQ, his introversion, and his humanity, and I think you approximate Reed.

SF: Michael Cera swap for Eisenberg or have they grown apart as actors to be a difference now?

JF: I find Cera to be a little whiny.  I see Eisenberg as being able to pull off a Reed who is disconnected from the world while still retaining humanity.

SF: True, Eisenberg has gotten more serious.  Why am I blanking on Johnny? There are enough young cocky guys to fill that role but I'm drawing a blank.

JF: For some reason, the guy who leapt into mind for Johnny for me is Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead on Riverdale.

Obviously without the beanie.
SF: Him or his brother, yeah.  They had a Disney channel show when they were young.

JF: So who's our younger Chiklis?

SF: I liked Chiklis but think we need someone who looks more like a soldier this time around.  Magic Mike's Channing Tatum?  LOL
It's telling that when you Google "Channing Tatum Thing" it suggests "Channing Tatum thong"
JF: That would be... interesting...  It would not exactly be grabbing the best known actor, but a name that just popped into my head is Travis Willingham, who's a voice and mo-cap actor for video games and animation. I think from a voice perspective, he would be a good match for the Thing, and in depowered form, Willingham pulls off a very believable football player.

Though he'd probably need to lose the beard.
SF: Travis Willingham is a good choice. And also around the same age as the other actors.  I also like Geoff Stults but he may not fit with rest of the crew.

I admit, I thought that was Josh Duhamel at first.  --JF
JF: How about Alicia?  I thought one of the sins of the original movie was that they cast their most accomplished actor as the blind girl and gave her little to do.  Or would you have Alicia?  I'm definitely pro-Alicia.

SF: I like Alicia but only with Ben and no weirdness with Johnny.  Alicia needs to be small, at least small next to Ben.  Carey Mulligan is kinda tallish but might work for Alicia.

She's even sported the classic Alicia haircut.
JF: Ooh, that works!  Are there any other characters who are must haves for a FF movie?

SF: Doom and Namor maybe.  I say Lewis Tan for Namor.

He'd need to lose the hat, though.
JF: He works!  I think Doom needs to be an accomplished actor who can pull off both arrogance and menace while feeling real.  Who's the young version of Anthony Hopkins?

SF: Wes Bentley? He has the creepy eyes.  He is a little older than the rest.  All the menacing guys I can think of are in their mid-late thirties.

The eyes have it.
JF: I started thinking Game of Thrones.  What about Richard Madden?   He's 31.

SF: Madden definitely has the young euro angry guy look.

And this time he gets to keep his head.

Final Advice

JF: We've already talked about avoiding the origin story, better casting, better villains, doing more weird stuff away from earth.  Are there any other missteps we should avoid in making a new FF?

SF: No fear in being outlandish. And don't stray away from big concepts and nerd talk.

JF: And play up the family aspect more.  And the Thing wears pants, right?

SF: Yes.  Always pants.

'Nuff said.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.

JL Franke is a fan of both hard science fiction and hard fantasy.  He has been collecting comics for over 40 years and has been an on-and-off active member of online fandom for 25.  Those interested can find other writings at his personal blog,  When not geeking out, you may find him at a baseball park or cheering on his favorite college and pro football teams.  In his spare time, he is chief scientist for a research and development laboratory somewhere in the Washington, DC greater metropolitan area.

Fantastic Four Movie Mini-Panel Fantastic Four Movie Mini-Panel Reviewed by JL Franke on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 Rating: 5
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