Fantastic Four


Release Date: 2005
Director: Tim Story
Running Time: 106 minutes
Cast: Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans
Comic Artist: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
First Appearance: Fantastic Four 1 (November 1961)


The first of Lee and Kirby's "superheroes with problems" stories: others would include Spider-Man. The story revolves around Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic - a scientist with stretching abilities), Sue Storm (later Sue Richards, wife of Reed) - aka Invisible Girl, Johhny Storm (brother of Sue) - aka Human Torch with ability to control fire, and Ben Grimm - aka The Thing - disfigured super strong monster.

In 1971 both Lee and Kirby left the strip, and although talents like John Buscema, Roy Thomas and John Romita tried their hand at it, the strip faltered.


If you like your special effects-driven summer action blockbusters slick, seamless and state of the art, then Fantastic Four may not be for you. While the superpowers and their consequences — flames, stretchy limbs, force fields and so on — no doubt required a great deal of money and expertise to bring to the screen, they look cheap and cheesy. Which may be the point. In an era when movies based on comic books have become increasingly solemn and serious, this one is content to be trashy. Compared with the psychological probing and spiritual brooding of "Batman Begins," "Fantastic Four" is proudly dumb, loud and inconsequential. It is not an allegory, an archetypal tale of good and evil, or the cinematic equivalent of a graphic novel. It's a comic book. And a venerable one at that, since it was the Four, back in 1961, who helped to put Marvel Comics on the map. The group's movie debut is a standard origin story, in which the characters acquire and master their powers and confront their nemesis, one Dr. Doom. With its clumsy rhythms and indifferent acting, the movie, directed by Tim Story ("Barbershop") from a script by Mark Frost and Michael France, is more like a television pilot than a big-screen epic.

©A. O. Scott, The New York Times

Prequels, Sequels and Follow-ons:

Fantastic Four (1994 - never released). Producer: Roger Corman. Directed by: Oley Sassone. Starring: Carl Ciarfalio, Joseph Culp, Alex Hyde-White, Rebecca Staab, Jay Underwood, Michael Bailey Smith

Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (summer 2007). Directed by: Tim Story Cast: Ioan Gruffud(Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (The Invisible Girl), Michael Chiklis (The Thing), Chris Evans (The Human Torch), Doug Jones (Silver Surfer/Norrin Radd)

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