I’m of a mind to do some short form stuff, and seeing as I haven’t updated this site for a while because I’m a trash bag carefully sculpted to look like a human, I should probably combine the two.
So, I’m going to give you my pitch on a Fantastic Four film, because nothing I pitch you can be worse than what they’ve actually made.
First order of business is to establish what sort of film it’s going to be. We’ll assume this is coming after Marvel regain the film rights for 50p and a can of diet Pepsi, Fox having spiked the value of the brand so far into the ground that it’s ended up in Mole Man’s living room.
That means it’s going to be some manner of origin story. They’ve avoided doing that with Spider-Man, but I’m going to base that on two reasons.
Firstly, the older Spider-Man films weren’t terrible.
Secondly, Spider-Man is the flagship Marvel property and there are tiny babies that know he was bitten by a radioactive spider.
But the Fantastic Four and their origin has been damaged. So, we’re going to fix it.
To begin with, we’re not going to devote half the film to them actually getting their powers. We’re going to start a couple of years after the fateful space shuttle trip, but before they become heroes. Remember, we must fit them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.
We open with Reed working in a darkened lab. Focused, cold, slaving over data and samples and all manner of science things. He’s beyond tired, clearly not sleeping. We intercut him working with flashes of the shuttle mission. Just the scary bits – the four of them screaming, that sort of thing – and we see the effect on Reed. He can’t work like this, he needs a break.
He thunders outside – it’s daytime – and up to the roof for some fresh air. It’s a SHIELD building, a satellite facility built for one reason alone, to house the Four, and that’s how it survived Hydra. Now that SHIELD is coming back, a shiny new badge has just gone onto the facility.
Sue appears. They’re not married yet, but the way Reed’s tensions visibly ease when he sees her shows that it’s only a matter of time. She knew he’d be on the roof, she knows him. Same time every day, up on the roof. The same warning from her everyday – you’re spreading yourself too thin, Reed.
And he knows she’s right, but it doesn’t matter. Another flash of memory. Of Ben’s blue eyes. Of him changing.
That’s Reed’s fault. He must fix it.
This is the central driving point for Reed. The Reed of the comics has always been, for me, hard to like. In his early appearances, he was downright misogynistic at times to Sue and dismissive of Johnny. And we need to maintain some of this edge to him for this film, without him being an unlikable dick, so we spin it out of his guilt over what happened to Ben.
For Ben’s part, we have him take it in his stride. He makes self-deprecating jokes about his situation – and they do cut a little deep at times, to show how hurt he truly is – but he lives in a post-hulk world. Sure, he can’t walk the street, but he’s not the only monster out there. And besides, SHIELD have hooked him up with a wicked pad, full of almost everything he needs. He’s comfy, if not truly happy.
But that doesn’t, and can’t, matter to Reed. He, Sue, and Johnny can come and go from the building as they please, provided they attend the mandatory tests to track the effects of the cosmic ray exposure. Ben can’t.
Reed did that to him, and he has to undo it.
There are times in the film where he’ll lose track and snap, insult, and demean the others. But it’s not because he is innately a dick, he’s suffering from a form of survivor’s guilt and it’s making him hostile while he works to soothe his conscience.
For Sue’s part, she’s helping with his research but also trying to get him to calm down. To stop blaming himself. She’s every bit the scientist he is, but she sleeps. She talks to the SHIELD people, because Reed can’t muster the diplomacy to deal with their bullshit.
Towards the end of act 2, just when everything is getting all dramatic, Reed will flip his shit and snap at Sue. Ben and Johnny will try to step in but she’ll wave them off, basically telling them the same thing I have about why Reed is such a cockend. They should make allowances.
Then she will rip the ever-loving shit out of Reed once they are alone. His behaviour is not acceptable, but she can absolutely tell him that herself.
As for Johnny? He’s easy. Fox actually got him largely right – he fucking loves being able to set himself on fire and fly. It’s so fucking cool! He’s also the one who wants to be out there using his powers, he’s the hero on the team. Sue and Reed are refusing to use theirs – they have no need to in the lab, so why bother? – and Ben doesn’t really have a choice. When the superhero shit hits the fan, Johnny jumps at the chance, and he’s ultimately why Reed and Sue agree.
Ben just wants to get outside.
So that’s nearly a thousand words without really talking about the plot, so I should probably fill you in on that a bit.
It also leads to explaining this version of DOCTOR DOOM, the character that has been the main reason the other films have collapsed.
The timeline is that, after the first Avengers movie and the massive wormhole opened in the sky, flooding Manhattan with aliens, SHIELD took notice. That wormhole tech was impressive, well worth study. And who better to study it than the foremost scientists in America – Reed Richards and Sue Storm?
Their attempt to recreate the wormhole tech exposed them to cosmic rays that gave them their powers, yay.
Then they spend two years largely sequestered so SHIELD can make sure they aren’t walking cancer bombs.
So, what forces them out into the world of superheroics? DOOM. Who, incidentally, we don’t see out of his armour. Ever.
Doom has not been king of Latveria for long. In fact, it was the previous administration that signed the Sokovia Accords, and died in the bombing that took place in Civil War. In the vacuum that followed, Doom seized power, and solidified his grip by uplifting the backwards nation at an immense speed. He’s a ruthless and brutal tyrant, but respected as the legitimate ruler of Latveria.
But he’s not happy. He’s been working to a purpose. His intention is to build a machine that can pierce the veil between life or death, peer into another dimension and commune with the only person he has ever truly loved – his mother. His lone attempts to build this machine literally blew up in his face, but with an entire country’s resources at his back, he is finally making progress.
But he needs some technology for it, something he tries to buy from SHIELD but they won’t sell. They peg Latveria as a rogue state, and they don’t want him building some magical nuke and wiping out half of Europe with it.
But he’s fucking DOOM, so he storms SHIELD and just takes the damn stuff. DOOM SHALL NOT BE DENIED.
And, this is important, he’s a goddamned beast. They see his suit and think its derivative Iron Man tech, so they aren’t expecting the magical ass-kicking they get. He practically walks through the base unhindered, like the magical terminator, until he reaches the vault where the McGuffin is and the entire garrison is staring at him, guns drawn. Fifty men, fifty guns. One DOOM.
‘Surrender!’ one very brave soldier bellows.
DOOM draws himself up to full height and silently scans the crowd.
‘FOOLS. DO YOU THINK DOOM SO EASILY STOPPED? I AM NO PETTY VILLAIN, ALONE BUT FOR MY CONSIDERABLE STRENGTH. I AM A KING.
AND A KING COMMANDS ARMIES.’
Doombots. Scores of them. Punching through the walls, the floor, the ceiling. They swarm the soldiers and DOOM himself, and he moves through them like a reflection in a hall of mirrors. The soldiers don’t stand a chance of picking out the real DOOM, not that it matters. They’re done quickly.
And DOOM gets what he wants.
We get a scene then of SHIELD utterly shitting itself. A man just walked through a secure facility, killed basically everyone, and walked off with a mystical McGuffin that could make one very big bomb. ASSEMBLE THE BOFFIN BRIGADE.
Got to have a meeting to discuss a fuck up of this magnitude, and got to have the brainiacs on board to explain it.
Ergo, Sue and Reed.
It doesn’t take Sue too long to twig that this was DOOM’s handiwork. The SHIELD brass doesn’t volunteer the information, but Sue knows as soon as the McGuffin is mentioned. Reed doesn’t see the connection, then Sue reminds him.
See, as stated, DOOM had tried to build his machine before, on his own and without success. It had been a pet project while at university. The university he attended with Reed and Sue. He’d detested Reed for being an arrogant jerk, but had been friendly with Sue. There was something of his mother about her.
Here’s where we tweak the comic book origin a little more – in this version, it’s Sue that tries to talk DOOM out of running his machine, telling him that he’s too close to the project and that he’s overlooking some serious problems.
We’re doing this change for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it paints a similarity between Reed and DOOM – this arrogant self-absorption in their science, with the difference being that Reed is slightly more open to being told to sort his shit out and think for a moment. Secondly, it gives the invisible woman a nice bit of thematic irony to it. Her opinions are ignored – she’s invisible – even though they are right.
Plus, Reed doesn’t need another kernel of lore backing up his vast intellect.
Anyway, the important thing is that DOOM’s first machine didn’t work, and with only a fraction of the magic McGuffin that powers it, he managed to destroy an entire university building and horrifically scar himself. Sue and Reed inform SHIELD that, with the amount he stole, it’s highly likely a sizeable chunk of Latveria and its neighbouring states could be consumed if he makes the same mistake.
They need to get that stuff off him, immediately.
Naturally, SHIELD won’t do that. It would be an act of war against an enemy that has just gained the capability to create and wield weapons of mass destruction. Diplomacy first.
When Johnny hears about this, he goads Sue and Reed into going rogue and stopping DOOM. He’s been going out at night trying the vigilante thing on his own with little success. If what Sue and Reed are saying is true, they can’t just leave this to diplomats. By the time they get a foot in the door, boom, no more door.
It doesn’t take much to get Sue on board – in her eyes, DOOM is a man hurting, and she knows all about those. Reed is much more reticent, but Ben convinces him.
This is where it comes out, how much Ben is hurting. Locked away like a freak. Isolated. He needs a new purpose, and maybe this could be it.
They all have a big mushy family moment, and its agreed. The four of them are going to storm an entire country.
And they do it, after some lovely action and sneaky scenes.
Eventually they reach DOOM, who is putting the finishing touches on his machine and there’s a big speech about how much he just fucking hates Reed, always thought Johnny was a dickhead, doesn’t even know who Ben is.
But he stops at Sue, and he seems to genuinely listen as she tries to talk him down. But he just can’t. He needs to finish his life’s work.
And then they have a massive and epic fight. Doombot swarm, cool powers, all sorts of shit. It’s amazing, trust me. 90% of the budget goes on CGI’ing this fight. Oscars galore.
But they can’t stop DOOM. He’s got them outnumbered, and he manages to start his machine… And it works, it actually works! Reality starts to tear open, and he sees his mother again.
But reality keeps tearing. Wider and wider still. The rift widens past the realm of the dead, into other dimensions. Weird ones. Wormholes. Maybe we see Dormammu in there, maybe the Chitauri, Galactus if we’re feeling flush. DOOM doesn’t care.
It starts to push to breaking point, and it’s very clear that DOOM would damn the world for five more minutes with his mother. If it even is her. She’s a bit off…
This is where Sue intervenes. She pushes her way through the fight to talk to DOOM, to finally bring him back from the edge. She pleads with him, tells him not to let this mania take the entire world. And she succeeds.
He looks at her and there’s a realisation in his eyes, a kindness. He drops all pretence for a moment and is Victor again, not DOOM. Long enough to rip the machine apart, to plunge all his anger into it and seal the rifts. He wrenches the power source out of its heart and drops it to the ground with disgust, then turns away from Sue.
The battle stops.
‘TAKE YOUR TRINKET AND LEAVE. DOOM COMMANDS IT.’
The sadness is palpable, but they all know not to push it. This is the best deal they will get. They take the McGuffin and scarper. Heroes.
The End (mostly)
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive script. There’s a lot that isn’t in here, it’s just the basics, the main themes and bullet points. But what do you think?