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Turns out, it was worth the wait. The Fantastic Four finally unveiled a first look at its trailer, giving us a ton of incredible imagery to dissect as we figure out the angle director Josh Trank will take into Marvel’s classic "First Family" of superheroes. From the looks of things, yes, The Fantastic Four is going to be an origin story. But this first trailer puts an incredible emphasis on science, and on exploration. Which makes sense, given the inquisitive nature of Dr. Reed Richards (played by Miles Teller on screen here). But it lends real credence to the Interstellar jokes that flooded Twitter in the wake of the trailer’s release.
Let’s start there, with the scientifically Interstellar vibe of the teaser for Josh Trank’s new Fantastic Four, and figure out what else Fox decided to show us in the introductory clip for this summer’s most mysterious blockbuster.
‘To discover, to invent, to build…’If the opening narration of the Fantastic Four trailer was done by Matthew McConaughey instead of the terrific Reg E. Cathey (playing Dr. Franklin Storm in this update), you’d assume these were outtakes from Christopher Nolan’s star-gazing epic. We even have a vehicle driving through a corn field. But I instantly like how the emphasis is placed on the scientific bent of these characters – particularly Reed Richards – because he’s supposed to be one of the smartest men on the planet.
Young Reed Richards! And Probably Best Friend Ben GrimmEverything about this teaser suggests "Origin Story," which may make some fans angry. Do we have to see how the Four became a team again? At the very least, it looks like we may start out with an "early days of Reed and Ben," as the bespectacled kid in the above shot seems to be Lil’ Reed, and I’m guessing he’s right next to his buddy Ben Grimm – who has a rocky future ahead of him.
The Government Sanctions This Trip Into the N-ZoneThis isn’t the Muppet Babies version of the Fantastic Four though. We quickly skip ahead to a time when the members of the team are being recruited for an experimental program – with charts and graphs being analyzed by official, soldier-looking types. Sending the Fantastic Four into outer space where they can absorb cosmic radiation seems silly. So there will be tweaks. But there’s no question that our government sanctions whatever "mission" Reed, Ben, Johnny and Sue embark on. What kind of repercussions might that have?
It’s Clobberin’ TimeThis image reminded me, with a bit of melancholia, how young the members of the Fantastic Four are supposed to be in the story. Part of that appeal is why I like Peter Parker so much – in his earliest days. He’s a teenager, overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a hero. And when you know that Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) is going to be transformed into a cynical rock creature, this shot of him as a budding baseball star breaks my heart just a tad.
This Is How They Transport Between WorldsRarely does it play out on screen as it did in the comics. And Josh Trank has to make major changes to the Fantastic Four mythology. No longer can the team ride in a rocket ship to outer space. This time, scientists in suits will board a whirling top of a mechanical device and – from what we can tell – use it to transition between dimensions, exploring a place that we hear is going to be called The N-Zone. We see a lot of it in the trailer. We also see… disaster!
Things Go Horribly AwryWe don’t see the machine break in the Fantastic Four trailer. But we do see the aftermath of what we assume is a devastating accident. In the above shot, one member of the team crawls through flaming wreckage – though we can’t tell if it’s after the team has spent a good amount of time in them other dimension, or if the machine breaks shortly after each person gets into one of their pods. Either way, there’s going to be destruction, and I’m guessing that the team’s individual powers are born from this accident. Speaking of which…
A Thing Is BornWe get a few good looks at The Thing, who will be created with 95% CGI. And as producer Simon Kinberg notes in this Yahoo breakdown of the trailer, the above shot of The Thing emerging from his pile of rock will be one of the most screen-capped moments of the entire clip. Because the powers of the FF are unusual, and not easy to bring to the big screen. (Ask Michael Chiklis what it was like to wear a rubber suit for Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films.) We get this great shot at Ben Grimm in rock transformation – and we get another as the trailer draws to a close.
Flame On!Right after we see Ben breaking out of his "shell," Josh Trank shares the above shot of Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) triggering his inner heat. We don’t hear him screaming the Human Torch’s signature line, "Flame on!" But I do love the choice to film the Torch from a distance, and to make his ignition subtle. He’s not flying. He’s not showing off, like a showboating Chris Evans did in the earlier films. But he does fight someone unusual in the next freeze frame.
Torch And Invisible Girl In ActionSeeing as how this is an origin story, we’re not entirely sure who the villain of the piece will be. We have thoughts, and they are coming. But as the Four learn to use their newfound powers, it looks like siblings Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Sue (Kate Mara) unleash a little hell on each other. Is it in malice? A mistake on Johnny’s part as he learns to control his flames? Only time will tell.
Sue’s Invisible Shield?Sue Storm’s powers are hard to convey. She can turn invisible, and conjure massive shields to protect her teammates or fend off an attacker. This eagle-eye shot of downtown Manhattan, we think, shows Sue blasting up a massive force field to either protect the remaining members of the team or prevent a villain from escaping. The trailer opens with a shot of New York City, and we know that the team eventually will have a headquarters here. But will the Baxter Building be a part of this chapter? Or will Fox save it for the already announced The Fantastic Four 2?
Reed’s First StretchOne complaint aimed at today’s trailer is that it’s light on the powers of the members of the Fantastic Four. And I get that. But I also understand that basically all four of them require heavy CGI if they are going to be believable, and it’s likely that they just aren’t ready yet. You can show Johnny in his suit, but until we see him cloaked in fire, he isn’t the Human Torch. Same goes for Reed. Stretching his limbs can be cool. But one false step, and he’s the dancing fool from Rise of the Silver Surfer, and no one wants to repeat that.
A Title TreatmentEarlier, someone claiming to be an editor working on The Fantastic Four shared what they claimed to be a title treatment from the end of the trailer. Well, they were wrong, which leads me to believe that a LOT of what was shared in advance of this teaser is wrong. This is the new title treatment for Trank’s movie.
Doctor Doom?Do you know who else was missing from this teaser? Doctor Doom. And Doom is, to the Fantastic Four, what Lex Luthor of The Joker is to Superman and Batman. He’s pivotal, and there are ample hints at Doom’s presence in the teaser, but no full-blown shot of him. Unless that figure on the table is him. Reed approaches him, and asks him what is coming next. The voice of the narrator changes, and I believe that is Toby Kebbell speaking.
A Team, AssembledThis final shot from the trailer is awesome for so many reasons. It gives us the first full shot of the team united (though Johnny really should be ignited to fully sell the effect). It gives us our second full look at The Thing, so we can get an idea of his size and scope. He’s a full head taller than Reed and Johnny, and he’s poised and ready to rumble. But pull back from the team and start to ask questions. Where are they? Is This the N-Zone, where they arrive and eventually receive their powers? Whose plane is that, caught in the vortex of what looks to be a lightning storm? There is a lot more sci-fi in this comic-book adaptation than I anticipated, and it might answer why Josh Trank earned a Star Wars movie from his work on Fox’s updated Fantastic Four.