A fluff-coated column about the new FF movie
This year's model is based on "Ultimate Fantastic Four," a book introduced in 2004 in a line of Marvel comics set in an alternate universe. In this "Ultimate" universe, for example, Peter Parker was killed and his role as (Ultimate) Spider-Man was assumed by a multi-ethnic kid named Miles Morales. The Ultimate Nick Fury is black, whereas the one in our universe is white. The Avengers of this world look familiar, but are called "The Ultimates." And so on.I'm not sure the white Nick Fury will still be around in the post-Secret Wars universe. Peter Parker may still be, but it looks more like he'll be downplayed in favor of Morales. In fact, from the signs I've noticed more and more, it looks like the new Secret Wars isn't intended as a reboot per se, but rather, as an excuse to merge both 616 and Ultimate worlds together according to how the publisher sees fit.
All that aside, the Ultimate line is hardly what I'd call a good source for inspiration, given how jarringly violent the Ultimate X-Men and Ultimates were, and how far from entry level it turned out to be.
For the record, the Ultimate Reed Richards turned into a supervillain, and the Ultimate Invisible Girl and Ultimate Thing became a romantic couple. Also, their universe (and ours) is currently being destroyed in a big Marvel Comics summer crossover titled "Secret Wars." I don't think we'll see any of that in this movie!And it doesn't look like we're reading any of the bad news about 616's Nick Fury in this article. Because he was turned into a villain too, one who inexplicably deprived Thor of his ability to lift the Mjolnir hammer. All for the sake of turning Jane Foster into a Thor, complete with a man's name! And what basically defeats that whole story was the trolling stunt, where they kept her appointment a secret just so they could laugh at the fans, who needn't feel sorry if they were bothered to begin with, because if the new Marvel truly needed to come up with a female lead using the hammer, they could've given Jane her very own role with a magic hammer, and didn't have to replace male Thor proper.
Anyway, these "Ultimate" characters have essentially the same names and super-powers as the originals. But the movie makes another change from both the original model and the Ultimate one by casting a black actor as Johnny "Human Torch" Storm, who is white in both of his comic book incarnations.That doesn't guarantee the screenplay is any good, nor does it ensure Black and Hispanic moviegoers will flock to see the film in droves. What if they come out of theaters feeling sorely disappointed with the finished product? He also fails to explain how this justifies taking established heroes back in the comics proper, if anywhere and replacing them with different races, gender and sexual orientation. The argument could also apply to some of the movies too. Nor does he consider that Black/Hispanic filmgoers might not be asking for the heroes and co-stars to have their racial background changed. At worst, he risks putting words in the mouth of minorities.
Needless to say, a lot of fans were immediately up in arms about this. And to be honest, I'm not thrilled about it.
But I understand the problem today's moviemakers faced when basing a film on superhero comics. And that is: The vast majority of major superheroes were created when virtually all entertainment was lily white. Black and Hispanic kids want to see someone who looks like them up on the screen, but before 1966 (and the Black Panther) there just weren't very many non-white heroes in the comics. So I understand the logic of integrating the early, all-white superhero world.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter is peeved with Twentieth Century Fox. He's cut a deal with Sony to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- the web-spinner is rumored to have an appearance in "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) -- but Fox hasn't been as cooperative.Who knew a so-called journalist would be so excusing of Perlmutter's selfish, hindering attitude? Whether the movie turns out to be entertaining or just plain awful, that's no reason to impose such a severe mandate on the publishing arm and dictate that nary a single comic or merchandise spotlighting the FF may be printed and developed. At worst, it makes them look selfish. Even though their whole MO today has resulted in some of the worst storytelling ever, and there's honestly no need to line Perlmutter and company's pockets by purchasing terribly written books, all by unknown writers who see nothing wrong with insularity.
So Perlmutter's in a snit, and it appears that Fantastic Four and X-Men properties in the comics are likely to suffer for it. As reported at Comic Book Resources and Bleeding Cool websites, Perlmutter sees no reason to give Fox any free advertising, so as of this writing no "Fantastic Four" book is planned after the "Secret Wars" crossover. (Although the characters will be appearing in other books.) X-Men is too valuable a property to ignore, but it's likely the characters will be more or less shunted off to their own sandbox, with their role in the larger Marvel Universe taken over by the Inhumans franchise.
Now there's a civil war!
Will it continue? That's just one of the questions floating around "Fantastic Four." Who knew a superhero movie could be so complicated?
All of which went unconsidered by Smith. That's just why Marvel's been able to get away with some of the worst storytelling this century.