A film writer who doesn't know much about the FF
Can the Fantastic Four ever be popular again? Even the studio that’s making their $122-million movie doesn’t act as if it thinks so. The publicity for the reboot of the Marvel superhero team, their first film since 2007, has been half-hearted. “They don’t know how to market it,” says Sarah Marrs, who writes about film for Lainey Gossip. “Every trailer has emphasized a different angle. They’ve changed the key art a couple of times, and it’s like maybe they don’t know what they have.” [...]This could easily describe the whole comics medium. Before Marvel cancelled the last volume, how much did it sell? Less than 50,000 copies at retail level, and as I've mentioned before, there's every chance plenty of those copies are now gathering dust in the bargain bins. The 4 dollar price tags are one fault, and, there's the various hack writers who adhere to Quesada/Alonso/Perlmutter's PC visions that are another. How do they expect a resurge in popularity with all these grevious errors being made? They don't even know how to market comics, sticking firmly with the outdated pamphlet format and the relentless company wide crossovers that nullify creativity and independence.
So what’s stopping the Fantastic Four from regaining popularity? Marrs thinks they’re too much like a sitcom family, and not angsty enough. “In 2008, the double whammy of The Dark Knight and Iron Man proved that what people like about superheroes is people who have a lot of drama. The Fantastic Four are not very dramatic. Their main villain is a complete goofball,” she says, referring to Doctor Doom, a man in a metal suit obsessed with proving he’s a better scientist than the hero. It doesn’t help that the premise is tied to the 1960s: The team gets their powers by stealing a rocket and trying to beat the communists into space, where they’re bombarded by cosmic rays. Reed advocated setting the films in the 1960s, but Fox keeps trying to make them contemporary, and it may be that they aren’t. “They’re playing the dark and gritty thing,” Marrs continues, “and that’s 100 per cent wrong, because they aren’t dark and gritty characters.”Now she's right about the dark angle. That's exactly what's destroyed many DC and Marvel comics alike over the years, as they assumed everybody wanted only darkness. But I must disagree about the angst angle. Too many superhero casts wound up as brooders, with Batman being a standout example, and it got to a point where it drowned out any character development. This was a problem in the X-Men too during the 1990s.
And she's wrong - or not clear - about Doctor Doom. What does she mean Victor Von is a "goofball"? In the movie, maybe, but back in the comics, he was usually depicted as a humorless, selfish autocrat who could murder people on a whim, like lackeys who made mistakes he detested (one story by Doug Moench saw him wipe out a loyalist who inadvertantly led King Zorba's troops back to a hideout where his unconscious body was kept before revival). There were times when Doom was depicted as supposedly caring about his fellow Latverians, even as he brainwashed them with commie-style mentalities. But he was still quite the totalitarian, trying to defeat the FF and had conquest on the mind. Yet even that went too far at one point, under Mark Waid's own writing in 2003, which seemed to be written just because Reed Richards had to be turned into a ragingly vindictive man after Doom attacked the FF with magic and left them traumatized. The story may have also featured an anti-war message at the time the US army was in Iraq (making me wonder if the uproar Bill Jemas started was just to boost support for the book, for all the wrong reasons). I sure don't think it's appealing today.
Sure, the film writer could be alluding to the movie's take on Doom. But that's why they could've been less ambiguous, and it's funny how the magazine's writer makes no attempt to correct her. I also disagree about the premise being glued to the 60s. Didn't Marvel's past editors update the setup with something simpler, like Reed building a spaceship funded by the government, and they wanted to cut funding, so he and the rest of the gang flew it into space themselves ahead of time for testing before getting bombarded with cosmic rays? The movie reviewer is not thinking too deeply here. Though she did tell something interesting:
Still, don’t expect the Fantastic Four to disappear from movies any time soon. If Fox stops making these movies altogether, the rights will revert to Marvel’s own studio, and Fox isn’t about to let that happen. “I don’t think there’s a single creative spark behind the movie,” Marrs says. “I think Fox is just determined not to lose the rights back to Marvel. Fox and Marvel hate each other.” Fox has already talked about crossing the characters over with the more popular X-Men as a way of keeping them in the movies, regardless of this film’s performance. [...]And that's the problem. This all appears to be some kind of grudge that's leading the former to clutch the FF license at all costs, yet Marvel does no better when they impose a moratorium mandate against all new books and merchandise starring the FF. Why does Fox think it's such a big deal to hang onto the movie rights when they have no respect for the zygote I have no idea. Nor do I have any idea why Marvel should care whether Fox has the license. Don't they at least want to make money on the side? There we go, they clearly don't know what they want even in the movie business.