Lex Luthor. Doc Ock. Red Skull. The Joker. Brainiac. Dr. Doom. Seeing a pattern? Actually there are two. The amazingly brilliant individual who is also an insane egomaniac intent on controlling the world. It’s a part of our culture, this “Mad Scientist” stereotype. Certainly the comic book universe has its share of high-level genius good guys – Batman, Ironman, and Dr. Banner to name a few. But they have their own issues. Batman is his own special kind of sociopath. To say Ironman is arrogant is to not do justice to his hubris. He is a womanizer and has a slue of anti-social tendencies. Banner becomes The Hulk when he gets upset, angry, or even when his pulse gets too high. With a monster like that inside him, he is a unique kind of terrifying without being evil.
Then there is Reed Richards. He is superhumanly brilliant; Richards can learn a new technology or pick up a concept in moments. He is also indisputably good – to the point of being naive about the motives of others. And his supportive, powerful wife is stunningly beautiful. Now that is an anti-stereotype the world could use; a prodigally intelligent and socially positive man. That he is with one of the most beautiful women in the world, and somone who is the glue of the team only underscores his unusual combination of good, clean, and smart.
Which is why the two Fantastic Four movies were such a disappointment. At least one casting choice was unfortunate and the plots were fairly simple. Not that Mr. Fantastic was played badly, and certainly the stories are nothing like the tacky embarrassments of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. They were just nothing like the quality and consistency with the comics to be found in the recent Marvel movies related to The Avengers, the Spiderman reboot, or the newer X-Men movie.
When Marvel announced that they were going to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise I was delighted. It means a chance to try again with the chemistry that is so necessary for the team to come alive. More important, it’s another opportunity for large audiences to see that anti-stereotype. I can’t wait.
Anyone else interested in the Fantastic Four reboot?