Covering Comics #4 – The Fantastic Four (Part Two)

I’ve often said that I miss the comics covers of old. Those covers were designed, unlike many of the ones being produced today which are merely mini-posters spotlighting the titular character without giving any indication of the story contained inside, to draw readers in and make them anxious about actually reading the stories contained therein. Of course, this was also a time when comic books could be found all over the place, from newsstands to the local drug store, as opposed to only in specialty comic-book shops, and they were largely focused on catching the eye of someone just passing by the comics rack instead of depending pretty solely on regular readers who are willing to go every Wednesday to get their weekly fix, but that’s a discussion for another time, I suppose. Anyway, “Covering Comics” is going to be a probably irregular series of posts where I take a look at various covers from the past, highlighting some of my personal favorites, or other covers of note for one reason or another.

Last time in this column we took a look at some classic Fantastic Four covers from issues 1-100. (BTW, I am talking about the original series which started in 1961 here, not any of the later reboots, restarts, renumberings, what-have-you that have been published since. This time I thought we’d just take a quick glimpse at a few more covers from issues 101-200.

Let’s start with issue 103. There are a lot of things to like about this cover, but what makes it stand out for me is that not only do you have the Human Torch arcing into the picture in a pose that is iconic for the character, but you have Reed’s arm paralleling that arc so that the two figures encircle the action and help to focus the viewer’s eye on the main event, the fight between the Thing and Namor.


Issue #106 spotlights one of the recurring themes of the series by using a kind of split-screen format: separately each of the team members is very vulnerable to attack. It’s only when they come together and fight as one that they are truly at their best.


With issue #07 we get another of the series main themes, that of self=sacrifice. No matter how much Ben Grimm may wish to regain his human form, he is willing to forsake that and become the Thing again when doing so is the only way for him to rescue and save the rest of the team.


Last time around, I spotlighted issue #25 which gace us one of the earliest battles between the Thing and the Hulk. Of course, this was a fight which would call for many rematches over the years, and one of them is highlighted on this cover to issue #112.


This cover to issue #116 is another one of those which was created to really draw in the more casual reader along with those who picked up the series regularly. After all, who couldn’t help but wonder what could possibly get the team to follow Dr. Doom into battle, and what has happened that forced Reed Richards to the sidelines?


The floating heads of the Thing’s fellow team members on this cover to issue 129 was a theme that recurred quite a few times over the years, not only with the FF, but with many team books, once again visiting the idea of one member’s vulnerability when he is forced to fight alone as opposed to when the team is fighting as a cohesive unit.


Issue #140 uses a technique that really wasn’t often seen on covers, that actually breaking the cover into separate panels, just as would be done with the interior pages. Also, it’s worth noting that this is actually the British version of the cover as designated by the 6p price in the top left corner.


I noted last time that one of the themes that would reappear any time the Sub-Mariner showed up was his unrequited love for Susan, which is the reason for her face being featured in the small circle on this cover to issue #147. Also worth noting is the change of costume for Namor from his traditional trunks-only look to this more traditionally costume-like design. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing him wear something similar to this should he ever manage to appear in a Marvel movie, as I think it would fit in nicely with the tone that they have established for their cinematic universe.)


Ah, issue #150. Another “anniversary issue” means another wedding, this time between Crystal (a member of the Inhumans who was also a long-time girlfriend of the Torch) and the mutant Quicksilver. And look who’s there to interrupt the proceedings – none other than the Avenger’s frequent (and recent cinematic) foe Ultron!


Earlier I mentioned the floating head cover concept which focused on one of the main themes of the series, that of one member of the team having to fight alone while the others could only look on. This cover for issue #161 gives us another variation on that, with the rest of the team being able to only observe on a viewscreen as “The Thing fights alone!”


Issue #168 takes another look at what happens when Ben gets his greatest wish and regains his human form. How can the FF still be the Fantastic Four when only three of them can race into battle? In this case the answer is to replace him with Luke Cage. Of course then the question becomes one of whether, like the Avengers, the members of the FF are really that interchangeable or if there is some other, more special quality that makes this particular grouping of characters special.


The cover to issue #183 again revisits the “split-screen” style, (one which works very well with this particular team since the splitting of the cover into four panels echoes the four of the title, but in this case it’s used not as much to suggest the separate vulnerability of the characters, but the sheer amount of action to be found inside the comic. Of course, there’s also the question of what’s going on in that fourth panel and who the purplish guy is that seems to be there instead of Reed.


Issue #189 had to be intriguing for fans of the team, especially those who might not be aware that there even was an earlier version of the Human Torch – though in hos case, the appellation was kind of ironic, since he wasn’t actually human at all, but an android who, in the comics universe would actually later be shown to figure prominently in the origin of another recent addition to Marvel’s cinematic world, the Vision. (Though even that connection would eventually be ret-conned away.)


And finally we come to issue #200. I mentioned before that #150 was an “anniversary issue”, and obviously #200 was cause for even greater celebration. This particular issue saw the climax of a feud which had been going on since almost the very beginning of the FF, and a storyline which had been dominating the series for about six months: the “final” showdown between Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom!


Okay, I think we’ll wrap up our look back at FF covers with that one. Obviously, there are a lot that I’ve skipped over, and there would be a lot more exciting covers to come, and maybe we’ll get to some of those in a future “Covering Comics” installment.

Are there any of your favorites that you think I’ve overlooked or later ones that you’d like to see featured? if so, be sure to let me know either in the comments below or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page.

Oh, and just as an added bonus: I mentioned earlier the original Human Torch, so I thought I’d throw in this cover which not only spotlights him, but is actually the comic that started it all, 1939’s Marvel Comics #1.

mc1(You might note, by the way, that the cover also mentions “Submariner”. Yes, this is the same Namor who would reappear in the modern day Fantastic Four comics. As far as the Angel mentioned on the cover, no, that is not the same character who would be one of the original X-Men, though this version would later make his own way into the later Marvel Universe. Oh, and I think the Masked Raider may also have made at least an appearance or two. As far as whether the Ka-Zar mentioned here is the same character as the current version, well, the last time I checked I think the verdict was no, but hey, it’s Marvel, so…)

Fox Has Found the Perfect Trank-wilizer – Fantastic Four (2015)

ff1I really don’t want to get into all the “he said/they said” about who’s to blame for the new Fantastic Four movie, as I suspect there’s plenty of blame to go all around. Instead I’ll start things off this way: I really can’t consider it a good sign when I find myself actually dozing off during what should have been an exciting new take on one of Marvel comic’s most prestigious properties.

Instead of that, however, what we got was at best a rather bland movie that tries to up the ante and bring in some actual conflict at the very end, but by then it’s far too late.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I’ve really considered this movie to be a mistake ever since it was announced that Josh Trank would be directing it. I have absolutely no problem with his first film, Chronicle, but from the start I felt that his style – that of a more earthbound, serious, and “let’s throw every speck of CGI dust and dirt that we can on the screen” style simply was the wrong fit for a movie that should be evoking a sense of wonder and sparking the imagination of the audience. After all, the original Fantastic Four comic was the flagship of what we now know as the Marvel Universe. It was the foundation of everything that came after, from Spider-Man to the Avengers to the X-Men to… well, I could go on and on, but you all know exactly what I’m talking about.

ff2Unfortunately, the only thing this movie is going to inspire is a lot of yawns.

Then there came the casting announcements. Of course, most of the focus at the time was on the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch. As it turns out he may actually be the most appropriately cast character in the entire movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Miles Teller, and was appropriately impressed with his starring role in last year’s Whiplash, but he’s simply not the right choice for the role of super-professor Reed Richards. As for Kate Mara’s Susan Storm and Jamie Bell’s Ben Grimm, let’s simply leave it at “the less said, the better”.

ff3I will, however, allow that Toby Kebbell, who  is given the rather thankless task of taking on the role of the main villain of the piece, Victor von Doom (hey, why should I call him Doctor Doom when the only reference to him as that comes from a snide aside by Sue Storm before they even begin the fateful trip that gives them their powers?) does the best he can with the material that he has to work with.

Okay, so I suppose this is the point in this write-up where I should get down to the nitty-gritty and begin pointing out all of the things that are wrong with this movie, but if I really tried to do that, then I would be sitting here all day writing this, and it would actually be giving the movie more time than it’s actually worth. (Which, I admit, I may very well have done already.) Plus, there are plenty of other writers out there who are perfectly willing to do that, and personally I’m just salivating over the thought of watching the Cinema Sins guys dig their teeth into this one.  Instead, I’ll simply state that from the script level up, this movie so completely misunderstands not only these characters, their motivations, and what actually binds them together as a team that one begins to suspect that Trank (who was also at least partially responsible (I almost wrote “to blame”) for the script has never read any of the comics on which the film is supposedly based, but was simply given an outline of the characters and their powers and was told by Fox to go make a movie.

ff4And the thing is, I’ve come to accept that I’m not necessarily going to see the comic books that I grew up with brought to life when I sit down to watch one of these movies. After all, it’s a different time, there are different audience demands, and I’m willing to accept that, as long as you don’t violate the core concepts of the characters and what makes them unique.

Want to change the origin? Well, okay, I may not like it, but I’m willing to accept it, especially since Marvel already set the precedent of making the voyage they are taking about going into another dimension as opposed to outer space in their Ultimate line of comics.

ff5On the other hand, I really don’t need that revamped origin to take up 4/5ths of the movie. Heck, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby only needed eight or so pages of the first issue to get the ball rolling, and they were introducing not just a new team to the comics world, but an entirely new style of story telling. (Well, okay, maybe there’s a bit of hyperbole in that sentence, but you get the idea.) As far as the argument that the movie is using that time not just to show the origin but to establish the characters, I’d argue back that a) there’s not that much to these characters that needs to be established, and b) that’s the kind of thing that can be done just a well as the story moves along and you actually give us something worthy of the word “fantastic” to watch as opposed to simply more talking heads.

Oh, and as far as that sense of the fantastic goes? I’ll actually pass comment on that to my daughter who stated that she’d actually seen better special effects in some Disney Channel movies than what was on display here – a statement I find it hard to disagree with.

Of course, the movie really isn’t a total loss. At least when it comes out on disk I’ll know that if I ever have insomnia I can simply pop this one in and I’ll be sleeping like a babe in no time. So I guess I should at least thank Fox for that.


Turning A Negative Into A Positive – Here’s How Fox Could Turn The Fantastic Four From Bomb To Perfect Sequel Set-Up

ff91So 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.

ff92Deciding that their only option seems to be to take the offer, the foursome hitch-hikes (yes, I said hitch-hikes) across the country from New York to Hollywood to take the studio up on their offer.

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.

ff94Of course, it all turns out to be a trap.

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.

ff93Finally, 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. (?!)

ff96(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…


It Can Always Be Worse – Fantastic Four (2015)

H1No, I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the new Fantastic Four movie yet. Between my own schedule and that of my daughter (whom I’m waiting to see it with, since like any good parent, I feel as though if I’m going to have to suffer through this, she should have to also), it just hasn’t worked out.

Nonetheless, despite all of the negative reviews and all of the negative box office reports, I’m still looking for a way to approach the movie with some kind of a positive spin and I think I’ve finally found one that works:

At least we’ve still got the Human Torch in this movie and not H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot.

Yeah, I know, most of you just went “Wha? Hunh?!” and that’s okay, because what that reaction means is that you missed the 1978 Fantastic Four Saturday morning cartoon, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

H2You see, back in 1978, NBC wanted to develop a new Fantastic Four cartoon for their Saturday morning line-up. However, the rights to the Human Torch had been sold by Marvel to Universal who were looking to develop television shows based on various Marvel characters. Yes, this is the same deal that brought about the Bill Bixby -starring Hulk TV show, and the less than terrific Captain America and Dr. Strange TV movies. Since Universal was unwilling to share those rights, this led to a conundrum for NBC: they could either scrap their plans for an FF cartoon, or they could find a character to replace the Torch and move ahead.

Now one might think, given the deep well of characters that Marvel owns, it would be easy to find a replacement for the Human Torch or even for the creators of the cartoon to originate some kind of Torch analogue and simply give him a slightly different name and a different back story.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that’s not the way they chose to go. Instead, the producers of the cartoon decided replace the Torch with a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. Why go that way? Well, I can only speculate on that, but my guess is that it had something to do with marketing, and the feeling that if the show became a hit, there could be a lot of money made selling H.E.R.B.I.E. toys.

h3Just a couple of extra notes here: The acronym H.E.R.B.I.E. actually stands for Humanoid Experimental Robot B-Type Integrated Electronic, and he was created and named by Stan Lee and designed by Jack Kirby, so it can’t be said that this move was made without the blessing of the creators of the original Four. Also, there was, at the time, a rumor that the reason for the replacement of the Torch was that the producers were afraid that little kids, trying to emulate the flaming hero would wind up setting themselves on fire. This, however, has been thoroughly debunked, particularly by this article over at Comic Book Resources.

Anyway, the point is: No matter how bad the current movie incarnation of the Fantastic Four might be there’s always a way that it could have been worse.

Oh, and here’s a little bonus for you: the first episode of the 1978 cartoon.

And by the way: just a final note for Fox or whoever does the inevitable sequel or reboot of the Fantastic Four (yes, despite the terrible box office for the current movie, I still have no doubt that we will eventually see Hollywood take another swing at these characters – they’re just too irresistible to pass up) – you see how quickly the cartoon version gets past the origin and into the heart of the story, yet manages to tell us all that we need to know? Yeah, you (and anyone else trying to make any superhero movie) sometimes that’s all you need to do. Seriously, by now we all know where the characters are going to wind up, so it’s not like we need an hour or more of yet another origin story. Give your audience some credit, and just get on with entertaining us.


Covering Comics #3 – The Fantastic Four (Part One)

I’ve often said that I miss the comics covers of old. Those covers were designed, unlike many of the ones being produced today which are merely mini-posters spotlighting the titular character without giving any indication of the story contained inside, to draw readers in and make them anxious about actually reading the stories contained therein. Of course, this was also a time when comic books could be found all over the place, from newsstands to the local drug store, as opposed to only in specialty comic-book shops, and they were largely focused on catching the eye of someone just passing by the comics rack instead of depending pretty solely on regular readers who are willing to go every Wednesday to get their weekly fix, but that’s a discussion for another time, I suppose. Anyway, “Covering Comics” is going to be a probably irregular series of posts where I take a look at various covers from the past, highlighting some of my personal favorites, or other covers of note for one reason or another.

I’d usually begin a column like this saying something like “In celebration of the release of the new Fantastic Four movie…”, but from the comments I’ve seen so far, and my own feelings about the movie ever since it was announced, it seems like there’s very little to celebrate. No, I haven’t seen it yet (I’ll be doing so sometime over the weekend), and I’m trying to go into it with an open mond, but man it’s getting harder and harder. Anyway, obviously I’ll be back with more to say about it once I’ve actually done so.

So instead, maybe instead of “in celebration” we’ll just go with “in recognition of” the release of the movie, I thought I’d spend this column looking back on some noteworthy covers from the first 100 issues of the original FF series. After all, this is the series that really started the “Marvel Age of Comics” and without which we likely wouldn’t have the Marvel comics that we love, nor any of the movies that are so popular right now. So let’s see what we can find, shall we?

Of course, there’s really nowhere else we can start than with the one that kicked off the whole shebang, Fantastic Four #1.


Of course, that’s the issue that not only introduced the characters, but set the tone for what was to come, and pretty well showed what differentiated these characters from what readers were used to seeing from Marvel’s “Distinguished Competition” (as Stan tended to refer to them at the time).

One thing you may note about the characters on that cover is that they’re not wearing costumes. That was something that wouldn’t come about until issue #3, and even then they weren’t hiding their identities behind masks, and the Thing even rejected the idea altogether.


Issue #5 was where we met the man who would become the FF’s greatest nemesis. That’s right, contrary to what the various movie iterations would have you believe, Dr. Doom, in the comics, wasn’t tied in to the Four’s origin at all.


The space race which was going on with the Russians was a hot topic in the real world at the time, and was even the motivation for the ill-fated space voyage that gave the group their powers. This topic was one that returned in issue #13, when the group made a return trip to the moon and encountered not only a Russian super-villain, but another character who would become not only an integral part of their own series, but of the entire Marvel universe.


Issue #16 saw a guest appearance by another Marvel character who recently made his movie debut.


Along with traveling through space, the early FF also made a few excursions through time, as they did for instance in issue #19.


Of course, one of the great things about the Marvel universe has always been the crossovers with characters from other magazines, and this often led readers to speculate and even argue at times over which character would come out on top should they wind up fighting. Take, for instance, this epic confrontation that occurred in issue #25:


That fight pretty directly led into the next issue, which saw even more characters enter the fray.


I mentioned in the introduction that one of the reasons I love some of these covers is because they really make you want to read the issue to find out what could possibly be going on in the actual story. For me this is one of those covers. Why are the FF following the lead of Daredevil, and what does Dr. Doom have to do with it all? Hey, the only way to find out is to read the issue.


If you’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, then you’ve been introduced to the Marvel Movie/Television version of the Inhumans. What you may not know is that the comics version of the characters is quite different from what is being presented there, and that they actually got their start in the pages of the Fantastic Four. Yep, that’s the initial iteration of the group (actually of the royal family of the Inhumans) on the right side of the cover of issue #46, and the character in the middle of the cover is their king, Black Bolt.


Issues 47-49 of the series saw the introduction of the Silver Surfer and Galactus, and though the movie version of the Surfer was pretty spot on, obviously this version of the Eater of Worlds is quite different than what we saw in the film.


One recurring theme through out the history of the FF has been the continuing effort of Reed Richards to restore Ben Grimm (The Thing) to his natural human form. Issue #51 not only tells the tragic tale of one of those efforts, but has a cover that has gone down as one of the true greats in comics history.



I mentioned earlier that the FF were dedicated to the idea of exploring new worlds and even new dimensions. One of those new dimensions (and one wonders why, if the movie wanted to use the dimension-shifting concept as the root of the new origin for the movie version of the Four they didn’t actually invoke this concept) was the so-called Negative Zone, a trip to which was featured in issue #62.


Once again, with issue #73, we’re reminded that the FF are very much a part of a much larger universe of characters, and once again, readers were completely drawn in by the question of what could possibly have brought on this confrontation. Especially with such an odd grouping of characters opposing them.


Issue #80 once again just features one of those covers that makes you wonder what kind of creature that could possibly be that our intrepid heroes are confronting.


And this cover to issue #83, along with promising a return of the Inhumans also just show how out of balance the adventures of our Fantastic Foursome could be.


I’ll be honest: Ive never really known why, but the cover to issue #92 has always been one of my personal favorites. For me this is just the epitome of one of those covers that makes me want to know just what is going on inside and especially why our ever-lovin’ blue eyed Thing (as he had come to referring to himself by this time) was being labeled “Ben Grimm: Killer”.


And finally we come to issue #100. Now I’ll grant that at first glance this cover may seem something of a chaotic mess, but look at it. I mean just look at all of those villains just surrounding our heroes. Is there any way they can possibly defeat them all? And let’s be honest, is there any better way to celebrate the 100th issue of the book that started it all than to bring back all of the bad guys they’ve confronted over the years?


So there you go. Just a glimpse of some of the covers that made the first 100 issues of The Fantastic Four truly stand out. And there are plenty of other ones I could just as easily have chosen. Did I miss one of your favorites? If so, tell me about it in the comments.

Next time: We’ll move beyond those first 100 issues and take a look at some of the FF covers from later years that also deserve some love. And again, if you have a favorite, let me know and maybe I’ll include it along with my own choices.

Yeah, And That’s Exactly What Appears To Be The Problem – Here’s the New “Final” Trailer for Fantastic Four (2015)

Go ahead – watch the trailer first.

“There’s strength in Numbers.”

Of course, it’s just a catchy (if cliche) tagline playing off the emphasis on the “Four” in the title rather than the “Fantastic”, which is actually where the emphasis should be, but once again, Fox proves that they’re afraid to fully embrace the comic book nature of the properties they have optioned. (Again leaving us with the question of why option them in the first place? Is it really solely for the name recognition?)

ffa3And then there’s the part where any fan of the classic characters would tell you that the line should be “There’s strength in Family”, since one of the most the most interesting aspects of the book from its inception and especially in the ensuing years was the development of Reed Richards et al. into Marvel’s “First Family” amongst the hero set.

But, of course, the desired demographic can’t possibly (at least in studio think) deal with that, so…

Eh, we’re gonna get what we’re gonna get. And yeah, like everyone else, I’ll go see it. (Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can do that without plunking more dollars into the studio’s coffers.) And I’ll try to do that with a relatively open mind and remind myself that no matter how the movie at the end of the day turns out I’ll still have the classic characters and stories that I grew up with.

(And if I’m being honest, it’s not like Marvel’s publishing arm has exactly been treating the property much better for the past few years anyway, so I can’t lay all of the blame at Fox’s feet. Heck, they’re not even publishing a comic named The Fantastic Four at the moment.)

Thoughts, gang? Hit me with ’em in the comments. And while you’re at it, get those kids off my lawn, willya?!

Trailer Parking – Here Are The New Trailers For Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, Mr. Holmes, Batman V Superman, And The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened?

It’s been a huge week or so for trailer leaks and releases, and I’ve already featured a couple of them here, but I thought I’d just do a quick roundup of some of the others that have come out recently with a few short comments on each, so here we go.

First up, it’s the new trailer for the latest Fantastic Four reboot:

Okay, obviously, this isn’t the Fantastic Four that I grew up with or even those who only know the characters from the previous movies.. It’s much more obviously based on the “Ultimate Universe” take that Marvel created over a decade ago in an attempt to update those characters and bring them into the new millennium. That being said, I’m in a very strong “wait and see” mode on this one. Obviously, the young cast, led by Miles Teller is appealing, and the action and effects are going to be strong, but what it’s really going to come down to is the storytelling and the chemistry that these characters show onscreen. If they just get the tone right, then this could turn out to surpass what are – fortunately for the film – going to be low expectations, and it could turn out to be pretty good.

Next, Jurassic World:

For some reason I keep forgetting that this movie is coming out this year. I suppose a big part of it is that in all of the blockbuster onslaught that is happening both this year and next, a new Jurassic Park movie, which at other times would have been The Movie Of The Year, is just another feature. Nonetheless, it looks as though Chris Pratt, fresh off the huge success of Guardians of the Galaxy is bringing the same level of charm to this, and as long as he is allowed to do that and the producers have remembered that this should just be a fun “grab some popcorn and enjoy it movie”, this might be a world well worth visiting.

Let’s go a bit smaller next, with the release of the new UK trailer for Mr. Holmes:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Ian McKellen is an inspired choice to play an elderly Sherlock Holmes, and one has to wonder how well he might have fit into the role in his younger years. This may actually be one of the movies that I’m most anticipating getting to see this year, and the more footage we get, the more that sense of anticipation grows. My only hope is that despite it’s somewhat downer premise (Holmes losing his famed memory and how that affects his deductive skills) it doesn’t turn completely sentimental and sloppy during its final scenes. So far, however, things look really good.

Alright, let’s go ahead and do it. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Yeah, so there it is. You know, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the latest iteration of the title for this flick has Batman’s name out front, because this trailer just makes it look like we’re going to get exactly what I’ve been expecting: A superb performance by Ben Affleck as Batman in what is otherwise going to be a steaming pile of crap follow-up to Man of Steel. No. I’m not going to go into yet another rant on just how much I hated that movie and why, but it looks as though this film is going to be, tonally at least, more of the same. The thing is, this looks like it actually could be a pretty good adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns, and if that’s what Warners wanted to make, and if they had made that as a standalone film, then I would probably be completely on board with this as that movie. Unfortunately, that isn’t what this is being billed as, and even worse, it seems to be the major cornerstone that all of the other DC Comics movies coming out in the next few years is going to be built upon. So instead of a fun, relatively light and creative universe where each of the characters gets to be themselves and then come together to just up the ante while still retaining a real sense of adventure and wonder like Marvel has done with their properties (and, for that matter, like DC has done with their TV properties, where both Arrow and The Flash – and even Gotham, which should have the darker tone that it’s been generating – have completely embraced where they come from and what they are and have become and which has me completely psyched for the upcoming team-up spinoff), we’re going to get “grounded” and “gritty” takes on characters like Wonder Woman and Aquaman and the other characters that are going to be spinning out of this movie.

Finally, just to not end this on a completely down note, here’s a trailer for a film that I didn’t even know as coming out until yesterday: The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

Superman Lives is one of those legendary comic book movie failures. Imagine 90s era Nicholas Cage starring in a Tim Burton directed, Kevin Smith written Superman movie. Yes, the fanboy head fairly ‘splodes! But for awhile, it seemed like it might actually be a Thing That Might Happen. So why didn’t it? Well, apparently that’s exactly what this documentary sets out to explore. Now obviously, this isn’t going to be the most serious or important documentary that’s going to come out this year, but nonetheless, it should be really entertaining, even for non-Superman fans, just because of the personalities involved. Like I said, I just found out about this yesterday, but it’s very quickly moved to a very high place on mt “can’t wait to see it” list.

So there you go. just a few of the latest trailers that have dropped in the past few days, and I’m sure, as we gear up towards the Summer there will be even more in the next few weeks. So what do you think about these, some of the other ones that I’ve already written about, or other movies coming that we’re still looking for more info on? Let me know!

Have You Ever Seen The First Fantastic Four Movie? Probably Not – The Fantastic Four (1994) and Doomed (2014)

Yeah, I spend a lot of time on this blog writing about classic films, big-name directors and producers, some of the true “greats” of cinema of both the past and present. However, as those of you who know me or who have followed this blog for awhile now are probably aware, I also have a lot of love and admiration for the work of Roger Corman. I say “also”, because, let’s be honest. whenever anyone makes one of those “best director” lists or anything like that, Corman’s name is generally not one that’s going to come up. This despite all of the influence that he’s had over the years, giving so many of those actors, directors, producers, etc. their starts and a training ground in which to show and hone their skills, Despite the fact that he’s proved over and over again that he has an incredible eye for talent on the way up. Despite the fact that he has proven time and again that he knows how to make a film, and money, on a very tight, if not almost non-existent budget, making the most of the resources that he has at hand. And, perhaps most importantly, despite the fact that so many of his movies are just plain fun.

ff29No, his movies are not always great. And no, he’s not ever really risen far above the level of B-movie status. And yes, in later years he’s made some really ridiculous films, especially in his partnership with the SYFY network. But then, that’s exactly what he was being asked to do, and he’s filled that role, too, relatively well.

So, yeah, there are times when Corman really has been far under-appreciated and there have been times when it seems as if he’s really gotten kind of royally screwed. And one of those timesis when he actually produced the first movie designed to bring one of Marvel’s greatest superhero groups, The Fantastic Four, to the big screen.

What’s that? you never heard about Corman’s Fantastic Four movie? You never knew that there was an FF movie before the big-budget 2005 Fox-produced film? Well, yeah, actually there was. And, there are reasons that you probably never knew about it.

And that story, the story of the film, its production, the effort that went into its creation, and its ultimate fate, is the subject of a new upcoming documentary appropriately entitled Doomed.

I haven’t seen the documentary yet, obviously, but I have had a chance to see the movie that it chronicles, thanks to bootleg copies that have been floating around for years. There’s even a pretty bad version of it available on YouTube for those who want to search it out. I’m not going to embed that here, but I will go ahead and post the trailer for it just to give you a taste.

Now, obviously, I’m not going to make the claim that this is some kind of lost masterpiece. Obviously, it’s not. But, when one takes into account the state of special effects at the time, and the obvious budget limitations that Corman and his crew were working with, well, I’ll just say that it really could have turned out a lot worse than it did. It’s certainly not any worse than some of the other superhero adaptations that at least got some kind of airing (even if it was only as a TV movie) both before and after.

1994doctordoom2Most of all, though, like most of Corman’s movies, in the end it’s just plain old fun. Just a bit of good old-fashioned superhero goofiness. Of course, I know that in today’s atmosphere where we have to take our superheroes ultra-seriously and they have to be full of angst and leave the audience with the question on who actually is the “hero” in the movie, the kind of campiness that this movie embraces just wouldn’t go at all, but to me that seems a shame. (It’s also, I think, why Thor: The Dark World, despite its rather ominous subtitle, is the movie that probably of all of the recent spate of comic book films really comes the closest to embracing that “just for fun” atmosphere is still playing in theaters to decent crowds while truly dreary dreck like Man of Steel died a well deserved quick and miserable death.)

Anyway, needless to say, I am looking forward to seeing this behind-the-scenes documentary, and, who knows, if we’re lucky, it may just lead to Corman’s The Fantastic Four finally escaping the vaults and getting an actual legitimate release of its own.

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