Considering that it’s scheduled to premiere this summer, there’s still a surprising dearth of information about 20th Century Fox’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Even Tuesday morning’s trailer is rather tightlipped, with no hint of plot or dialogue to be found outside of a grand monologue about humanity’s thirst for knowledge—delivered by The Wire’s Reg E. Cathey, who plays Dr. Franklin Storm in the film.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn here.
First, let’s start with what we do know: Director Josh Trank (Chronicle) and writer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) have both stated that this Fantastic Four film will use the Ultimate incarnation of the characters as its source material.
That’s probably a good choice. The 2004 comic Ultimate Fantastic Four made a number of changes to the 1961 origin of Marvel’s First Family, changes that give the story a more interesting, hard sci-fi vibe than you’d get by simply sending them up in a rocket and saying something about “cosmic rays.” With that in mind, let’s dive in. (Click to enlarge any of these screenshots.)
First, let’s talk about what isn’t in this establishing shot: a city. Specifically, New York City, where the comic books—and almost every other superhero film—are set. In fact, the trailer is almost entirely devoid of urban environments, which is interesting. Will most of the film take place elsewhere?
It’s really hard to get a good still of this, because the relevant bit is so close to the fade-in—but if you’re sharp-eyed, you’ll spot that this shop is named Grimm Salvage. This is almost certainly a flashback to the childhoods of Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) and Reed Richards (Miles Teller)—who, in Ultimate Fantastic Four, are friends in grade school. (The original version of the characters has them meet in college.) Reed is a child genius, and Ben is his working-class best friend.
Here’s an example of how Fantastic Four seems to be melding newer material and material from its subjects’ 50-plus year history. Michael B. Jordan’s Johnny Storm appears to be really into cars. That’s a trait his character shares with the mainstream version of Johnny Storm, who loved cars and went on to be a professional racer for a spell even after he became the Human Torch.
This shot of young Reed and Ben also indicates how closely the film seems to be adapting the Ultimate origin. Here, the accident that gives the team its powers involves a teleportation device based on one that Reed first builds in miniature as a boy.
Here’s that teleportation device. How does it give them powers? By malfunctioning and phasing our heroes through a dimension known as the “N-Zone,” which fundamentally changes their physiology.
But you’re probably wondering what a bunch of fresh faced young people are doing with billions of dollars of experimental tech to begin with. Enter these guys: a top secret government think tank for intellectual wunderkinds like Reed.
Here’s our first look at Kate Mara as Susan Storm. It’s not clear what she’s doing here, but her specialty appears to analytical or tech oriented. In the mainstream origin comics, she’s simply Reed’s girlfriend; in the Ultimate comics, she’s a biophysicist. (Note: In the Ultimate comics, Sue is actually the group’s more assertive leader, rather than Reed. In the mainstream comics, she eventually marries Reed; her character goes on to become a pretty big player in the Marvel Universe)
Here’s our first (and only) look at the human Ben Grimm. He does sports, not science.
Johnny Storm’s love of fast cars is fleshed out a bit here—he’s a mechanic, too!
This is, unquestionably, Ben Grimm’s transformation into The Thing. Director Josh Trank is really into making the science fiction of Fantastic Four ”Cronenberg-esque,” and that’s something the Ultimate comics play up as well—the changes these people go through are horrifying to them. They’re grotesque, and not easy to cope with.
Something bad is happening to Johnny Storm here.
Again—this scene of Johnny Storm’s pyrokinetics looks like it’s being played for horror—it doesn’t look powerful, or awesome, but frightening.
Hey look! New York! And it’s in trouble! Classic New York.
Some of the final few shots (as well as the earlier one of Johnny Storm in his sister’s arms) take place in this volcanic wasteland, where the Four still seem to be in the gear they wore at the start of the experiment. Is this the N-Zone? Will they be spending a significant amount of time there?
In this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, we get what might be our first look at this film’s version of Dr. Doom. This guy certainly looks like a villain—he’s definitely not one of the heroes, and all of those soldiers appear to be firing at him.
In one of the trailer’s more curious moments, Johnny and Sue Storm seem to be fighting each other. Again, note how chaotic and unrestrained their powers are.
And finally, for one of the film’s last shots, we have Reed Richards making a big, dramatic stretch. While the trailer is extremely coy about showing off each of the Four’s powers, it’s most shy with Reed’s. Is it because super-elasticity is a totally goofy superpower that doesn’t gel with this trailer’s deadly-serious vibe? Maybe.
Another thing: If you look at the golden light on the horizon, this is the same scene where Johnny Storm lies in his sister’s arms. It very well could be the film’s climax.
And then, finally, the entire team assembles at what looks like the final act.
It doesn’t seem like they’ll don their traditional uniforms for the majority of the film, instead being outfitted in gear that’s customized for their particular powers. Also, doesn’t this look kind of familiar?
Either way, there’s one main takeaway here: The Thing is not wearing pants.