6 Other Fantastic Four Failures
I haven’t seen the new Fant4stic movie yet, and I don’t think I will at this point. I never had high hopes for this thing, but based on the reviews and all the behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt, it looks like this thing was doomed from the start. And honestly? Good. The Fantastic Four are being offered up as a sacrifice in the war between Marvel and Fox.
I honestly don’t care if Marvel ever gets the rights back to these characters. The Fantastic Four are toxic thanks to four really crappy movies. Even if it would be great marketing to add the Fantastic Four to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I kind of hope it just doesn’t happen. Let this movie be a final nail in the coffin.
And just for fun, I decided to put together a List of Six of the first few nails in that coffin. This Fant4stic movie is not the only failed adaptation the Marvel’s First Family has ever seen. Join me after the jump, if you dare!
6. The 1978 cartoon
The Super Friends weren’t the only superheroes to grace cartoons back in the day, the Fantastic Four were the stars of a couple kiddie contraptions before I was born. And the worst, by far, was The New Fantastic Four from 1978, notorious for the introduction of H.E.R.B.I.E. the flying robot. Not only was H.E.R.B.I.E. annoying in that ‘robot sidekick’ kind of way, but he also completely replaced the Human Torch in the cartoon. Just poof! Arguably the coolest, most popular member of the team was dropped entirely and replaced by a stupid robot sidekick. If that doesn’t defeat the purpose of a Fantastic Four cartoon, I don’t know what does. It’s not the ‘Fantastic Three plus a robot’!
Also, contrary to popular belief, the Human Torch wasn’t dropped because studio executives were worried about kids lighting themselves on fire. The rights to the Torch were actually being held for a possible movie or other project, yet they went ahead with the cartoon anyway.
5. One bad video game after another
The Fantastic Four have at least three major video game releases to their names, not counting their inclusion in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games. First up was a horrendous side-scroller in 1997 based on the comics. IGN said it redefined what a bad video game could be. Then when the Fantastic Four movies hit in the mid-00s, we got a double dose of bad tie-in games for the major consoles. Remember movie tie-in games? Thank God they’re a thing of the past. Just like the crummy movies, the games were pretty lame, and they were joined by a bevy of handheld and mobile versions, because why not? Apparently the Fantastic Four only work when they’re sharing the screen with other, better Marvel heroes. Or when they’re made out of LEGO.
4. The ‘Hemi’ Moment
I could go on and on about the terrible F4 movies from the mid-00s, but there’s one moment in particular that sums up their terribleness. I tried to find the video, but it’s not online. Basically, when showing off the Fantasti-Car, Johnny Storm stops and asks Reed, “Is it a Hemi?” And Reed nods approvingly. Or however the hell it happened! My brain hurts to try and remember the exact scene! But surely it’s burned into all of your poor brains.
Ugh. It’s just…ugh. From the sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, they literally stop the movie in its tracks for an ad for a truck engine that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore. Do people still use Hemis or whatever the heck they were? That one moment is emblematic of the whole stupid series. They did alright for the time, but that was before Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before the formula for really good superhero movies took off.
3. The aborted movie
Of course, those two films weren’t the first Fantastic Four movie. That distinction belongs to this mess of a flick made by Roger Corman in the early 90s. If you’ve got 90 minutes, you might be able to watch it by Clicking Here. If it hasn’t been taken down yet.
Made on the cheap with no intention of ever getting released to theaters, this exercise in silliness was made simply to hold onto the movie rights of the Fantastic Four — setting a precedent that also resulted in this year’s big flop. Nobody can make a good Fantastic Four movie, but they’ll be damned if they willingly give up the movie rights. The only difference is that, back then, producers were smart enough to keep their garbage off the screen.
This film was so bad that, at one point, Mr. Fantastic’s stretching powers were created by attaching a glove to a broom handle. Or near enough.
That’s one of those things people don’t mention when they talk about ‘movie magic’.
2. “Thing Ring, do your thing!”
If you’ve never seen the following clip, I feel kind of sorry for you, because dredging up old cartoon shows like this is one of the reasons the Internet exists.
That is Benjy Grimm, a scrawny kid who uses magic rings to turn into the Thing. This isn’t a knock-off or some fake gag. This was a real cartoon that ran in 1979, part of an hour-long block of programming called Fred and Barney Meet the Thing — and yes, that’s Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. They paired episodes of The Flintstones with this strange abomination of a superhero adaptation. The 70s were a weird time.
But Fred and Barney never actually met the Thing. The Thing’s cartoons were totally separate from The Flintstones, and usually involved Benjy battling mad scientists and ne’er do wells, while going to school with a bunch of 70s-era classmates. None of the other Fantastic Four members appeared, but Benjy did scuffle with the Yancy Street Gang, so at least that has some comic book roots.
But even that weirdness doesn’t compare to the most insane moment in Fantastic Four history…
1. The “Flame On” song
So the Fantastic Four had another cartoon series in the 90s, and I watched every episode. Marvel had a lot of superhero cartoons in the 90s, but people only remember the X-Men and Spider-Man ones because they were the best. The Fantastic Four cartoon was OK, but just like the ‘Hemi moment’, there is one particular scene that kind of sums up the horribleness of the entire series. Behold the Human Torch!
Wow, there are just no words. Was music in the 90s really like that? Surely that was the result of somebody having a stroke, right?
The rest of the cartoon was a normal comic book adaptation. The characters were all comics-accurate. They fought Skrulls and Inhumans and Galactus. Eventually, the cartoon got a little darker and a little cooler, and had a scene where Ghost Rider uses the Penance Stare on Galactus, so it had a few things going for it. But at this point, it’s probably only remembered for that song. That horrible, horrible song.
Somebody needs to mash up that song with scenes of Michael B. Jordan…