The 2005 version of Fantastic Four isn’t held up as an example of superhero-movie brilliance... and it hasn’t aged well. It’s mostly a pretty forgettable origin story, with boring action and broad-brush characterization. But it does have one great moment, and here it is.
In the scene above, Sue Storm is on Victor von Doom’s space station, where they’re preparing to do their experiment with cosmic rays. And Victor (who’s Sue’s boyfriend as well as her boss) decides this is the perfect moment to ask her to marry him. The great part? He does this whole build-up about how four words can change their lives forever. And just as he’s about to speak those four words, Reed bursts in and says four words: “The cloud is accelerating!!!”
That, in turn, leads to the accident that gives the Fantastic Four their powers and turns Victor into Doctor Doom. I love the comic timing here—it works in a way that so much of the rest of the movie doesn’t, quite.
Rewatching Fantastic Four now, I’m struck by how much it feels like a mediocre kids’ film. Prior to 2008, a lot of superhero films, even the really good ones, had that “kid’s movie” feeling. It’s in the jolly/portentous music, the slightly broad performances, the characters putting everything right there on the surface, and the straight-line plotting. (Although in the case of Fantastic Four, Michael Chiklis actually brings it as Ben Grimm, aka the Thing—he’s actually in a much better movie than the rest of the cast.)
Some of those older superhero films were great, but they were always a bit like cartoons (and not the Adult Swim kind.) Fantastic Four wasn’t a great movie for ten years ago, but watching it now is like watching a television show from the 1980s: things have evolved so much since 2005, it looks much more primitive to us now.
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