So despite the critical drubbing and the box office failure of their new Fantastic Four movie, Fox says they remain “committed to these characters”. Fine. While I would prefer to see them let the rights revert back to Marvel so that we could see what their home studio could do with them and we could see them integrated into the larger cinematic Marvel Universe, it occurred to me in a recent discussion of the film with some of my co-workers that there is one way that the studio could actually take advantage of the situation it currently finds itself in in regards to the movie, and could actually use that as the perfect set up for a sequel.
And the idea even comes directly from the first year of the actual Marvel comic book. Fantastic Four #9 to be precise.
The issue opens with Reed Richards telling the team that it appears they are bankrupt. Despite the fact that he has sold many of his freshly created scientific devices, he has also made some bad investments, and the team now finds themselves penniless. Fortunately, it just so happens that at the same time an offer appears for the Four to appear in a Hollywood movie based on their many exploits.
Upon arriving, however, the team makes a shocking discovery. It turns out that the studio that has made the offer is owned by none other than their long-term nemesis, Namor, the Sub-Mariner. According to the story he tells them, Namor has used the vast wealth he has gained from looting surface vessels that have fallen to the bottom of the sea to buy the studio, and despite their antagonism he realizes that there is money to be made from a film about the team’s many exploits.
Though they are, of course, distrustful of their foe’s motivations, the four agree that they really have no other option than to go along with the scheme, especially when the Sub-Mariner gives them a partial payment up front.
Hey, money talks, right?
Anyway, in order to begin filming, Namor orders Reed, Ben, and Johnny be taken to varying locations where they can show off their super-powers. Meanwhile, he will stay behind at the studio with Sue.
You see, ever since they first met in FF#4 (yes, their rivalry with the Sub-Mariner actually pre-dates their first meeting with Dr. Doom, at least as far as the comics go), Namor has had the hots for Susan. Therefore he has concocted this scheme not only as a way to destroy the male members of the four, but to woo the Invisible Girl over to his side in order to make her his bride.
Of course, his scheme eventually fails, with the Thing, the Torch, and Mr. Fantastic escaping the traps Namor has set for them and Sue completely rejecting his advances.
Finally, confronted with the reality that his scheme has fallen apart, Namor not only gives up, but gives them the rest of the payment that he has promised them in exchange for appearing in his movie.
Their money woes solved, and realizing that Namor has actually not committed any crime since they willingly agreed to the set-up of the film, the Four return to New York to pay off their debts and allow the Sub-Mariner to go free. Plus, as Sue notes, it would be three against one, and that just wouldn’t be fair. (?!)
(Oh, and yeah, there’s probably some outstanding charges that they could have used as an excuse too capture him, but hey, Stan only had 22 pages to work with here, so there really wasn’t room for another fight scene. Plus, we’re talking Marvel Law here, which at the time made almost as much sense as Marvel Science, so, you know, just let it go.)
So how could Fox take advantage of this story to create a sequel to the current Fantastic Disaster without completely nullifying it? It’s simple, really. They revert the characters back to something closer to their original incarnations, change the motivation of the Sub-Mariner (or whatever villain they want to use and/or have access to) from trying to woo Sue to wanting to humiliate the Fantastic Foursome by making a really bad movie about them, and voila, instant sequel plot.
I mean, really, it makes as much sense as heading on down the same path that viewers have already rejected. Plus, it would allow the studio a chance to win back some of the fans of the actual comic book – you know, those of us who were clamoring for an actual FF movie to start with and who made the property valuable to the studio in the first place. Plus, there’s more action in this 22 page story – thanks to the talents of Stan and Jack – than in most of the superhero movies to date.
C’mon Fox. I mean really, can this idea really be any worse than whatever else you might come up with for a follow-up?
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. As I noted in yesterday’s post, it could always be worse. But still…