Wind the clocks back to 2005 and you’ll remember a little superhero movie called Fantastic Four. It starred Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as The Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as The Human Torch, and Michael Chiklis as The Thing. The movie met with mixed reviews, but became quite the summer blockbuster, grossing over 300 million dollars against a 100 million dollar budget. This allowed it to spawn a sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which wasn’t so lucky with the box office. The series ended there, and there was that reboot from 2015, but that won’t named or talked about any further.
Neither of the films connected with critics or fans, making them ultimately forgettable superhero films. It’s unfortunate, but it further proves that Fantastic Four hasn’t had any justice done for them on the big screen. I realize the competition isn’t exactly much, but the 2005 film is indeed the best Fantastic Four movie we got. Am I just saying that because the other Fantastic Four movies aren’t so good? The answer is actually no. The movie doesn’t have the biggest fanbase, but I do have my reasons. Let’s take a minute and I’ll tell you why it’s not as bad as you think.
I’ll just get this off my chest and say why it’s not hailed as a great superhero movie like The Avengers. For starters, there was hardly any action. The biggest action scene was at the end with Dr. Doom and that was barely five minutes long. Everything before that that was remotely action was either bickering or them learning to use their powers. In a summer blockbuster superhero movie, action is pretty important. Without it, it’s almost like cake without the icing. The movie lacked tension and epic action. Simple as that.
That fundamental ingredient was not a part of that recipe, but there was also Dr. Doom. Julian McMahon did a decent job as the iconic villain, but his portrayal ultimately fell flat in the eyes of fans. Dr. Doom is one of Marvel’s chief villains and the primary villain to the Fantastic Four. He was one of the villains behind the inspiration for Darth Vader’s creation. That being said, a character like that needs some serious justice done for him. Has he gotten it? The answer is a crushing no. While McMahon’s version captured the monumental ego of Doom, he just wasn’t very intimidating. In the comics, he is a sorcerer of immense magical power and the movie for some reason weakened him. In the end, he was a bit too easily defeated and didn’t really seem like much of a threat.
And yes, there is Toby Kebbell’s version, which did the character even less justice. I know I said I wouldn’t mention the 2015 movie again, but there’s a point to be made here. Dr. Doom deserves much better than what he has gotten so far and it’s a travesty what we’ve seen. This failed attempt to make him villainous, along with the lack of real action, is why the 2005 movie fell a bit short with fans.
So what exactly about it is actually good? Well, for starters, just take a look at the cast. Chris Evans is the only one who actually moved on to a bigger superhero role, but he still killed it as Johnny Storm. He captured the reckless daredevil characteristics of the character, the exact opposite from his iconic Captain America role. Then there’s Ioan Gruffudd, who displayed Mr. Fantastic’s incredible intelligence well, while also showing that he’s not perfect. Next is Jessica Alba, in one of her most famous roles. She portrayed her as a capable woman, but also feeling trapped in a man’s world, making her feel invisible.
Then there’s the cream of the crop, Michael Chiklis, who played Ben Grimm, aka The Thing. Out of all the cast, his performance stood out the most. As Ben Grimm, he portrayed him as a tough, no-nonsense type of guy with the street smarts to coincide with Reed Richards’ book smarts. When he transformed into The Thing, he displayed his self-loathing characteristics perfectly. Most of the movie revolved around him struggling with his monster-like appearance and desperation to be turned back to normal. By the end of the film, he learned how to live with it and embrace it for the sake of good, giving him some solid character development.
What separates the Fantastic Four from other superhero teams is what their team is made of. There’s a reason why their lineup almost never changes and that’s because they’re a family. Sure, The X-Men and Avengers might say the same, but The Fantastic Four was a family even before they became superheroes. They knew each other well before they obtained their powers and grew closer when they became the Fantastic Four. Susan and Johnny Storm are siblings, Reed married Sue, and Ben was best friends with Reed since childhood. It works extremely well in the comics and it was shown almost perfectly in the film.
The 2005 Fantastic Four film’s strongest aspect was that sense of family it showed. Throughout the film, the four of them bickered like a family, resolved their problems like a family, and worked together like a family. The montage where they were struggling to live together was the best example of the family aspect. The love/hate relationship between Ben and Johnny built up in a very convincing manner, while Reed and Sue rebuilding their romantic feelings for each other paid off well. Sure, more action would have been nice to see, but it was clear that this super family team was willing to go to hell and back for each other, despite their issues. It wasn’t because they were a team, but a real family.
This chemistry between them is what kept the movie going. The cast played their parts well and made us laugh along the way, making the family aspect even stronger. This is what separates this movie from other superhero movies. The Fantastic Four was never about people who didn’t like each other at first working together becoming friends, but about a superpowered family proving that you don’t have to normal to be a family.
The 2005 Fantastic Four has it’s flaws, but these redeemable aspects are hard to ignore. It was fun, humorous, and gave a new meaning to superhero teams. Let’s hope that Disney corrects those flaws from the film and make the first great Fantastic Four movie.