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What ‘Fantastic Four’ can learn from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’


What ‘Fantastic Four’ can learn from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

News Portal Space

As “Guardians of the Galaxy” caps off an improbably successful trilogy, the ragtag heroes carry several lessons for the granddaddy of Marvel super-teams, Fantastic Four, as the studio embarks on a third stab at getting that foundational title right.

Twentieth Century Fox, which wound up with movie rights to the quartet, adapted Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s flagship comic in 2005, then rebooted it a decade later.

Neither entirely worked (although the first did well enough to merit a sequel), which was why attention almost immediately turned to Fantastic Four, as well as X-Men, when Marvel regained those rights through parent Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019.

Marvel’s long-awaited take on a “Fantastic Four” movie is now scheduled for 2025, and has kept the internet abuzz of late with casting rumors. Yet no amount of star power (or talented unknowns, for that matter) will lead to victory for a film that fails to master the delicate art of introducing a team of superheroes, which remains perhaps the most daunting challenge in the comic-book-movie realm, 15 years into the hit-laden run that Marvel launched with “Iron Man.”

The original “Guardians,” somehow, bucked that trend, building toward this third installment, which feels like a true climactic chapter, made more so by director James Gunn heading off to steer the ship at Marvel rival DC (which, like News Portal Space, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery).

To understand how “Guardians” triumphed, and what “Fantastic Four” can glean from that, it’s helpful looking back to what defined and distinguished the original comics, and indeed Lee and Kirby’s staggeringly productive collaboration during the early 1960s.

For starters, the cosmically irradiated heroes featured one member, the Thing, who hated what he had become, having been transformed into a monster. He frequently feuded and fought with his teammates – Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman (nee Girl) and the Human Torch – who also grappled with issues of being public figures, no secret identities required.

Those early Marvel comics felt real and relevant, in a way that the genre hadn’t until then, and that spoke to a generation whose lives would be rattled by the turbulence of the ’60s.

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Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans in the 2005 movie

Strictly as entertainment, the 2005 “Fantastic Four” had its moments – including the Thing-Human Torch relationship as played by Michael Chiklis and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans – but didn’t possess much of a “wow” factor. The same went for a disappointing sequel featuring the Silver Surfer, mostly squandering one of Kirby’s more visually striking and out-there creations.

The considerably darker reboot upgraded the Thing effects and, with the benefit of hindsight, chose well in picking Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan for key roles. Overall, though, the film fell flat, getting mired in wonky science about interdimensional portals.

“Guardians,” by contrast, prospered in a way “Fantastic Four” didn’t, capturing a mix of action, familial warmth and no small amount of silliness. While becoming too campy is always a danger in this genre, humor was an integral part of the comics and remains as ingrained in the title’s DNA as those cosmic rays.

“Vol. 3” of the “Guardians” saga leans heavily into that sense of family, including a squabbling-sibling dynamic among the characters. The series accomplished that, notably, with heroes that were particularly obscure and outlandish, including a talking raccoon and a monosyllabic tree.

Although much of this discussion inevitably tilts toward the most-engaged fans, there’s a reason Fantastic Four ushered in Marvel Comics’ storied run in the ’60s and remains a source of fascination now. Marvel Studios also needs something to excite audiences, after seeing its aura of box-office invincibility experience a few setbacks, if not entirely punctured, in the wake of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galaxy are distinct concepts, and Marvel must treat them as such. Yet in terms of the big-screen popularity that has eluded the former and the latter has achieved, “Fantastic Four” will need to at least broadly emulate those qualities if it hopes to make the third time the charm.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” premieres May 5 in US theaters.

#Fantastic #learn #Guardians #Galaxy

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