January 2, 2006

Not so fantastic

We watched the "Fantastic Four" yesterday. Or rather, we watched most of the "Fantastic Four" but didn’t get to really see the ending due to a really bad DVD disk which skipped during certain scenes and then got totally stuck towards the very end. However, it was enough for me to go on a rant – so mission accomplished :p

I normally do not watch live versions of comic book movies because they inevitably ruin the magic of the comic-book and the characters for me. I still have not watched most of the Superman movies, have seen only one Batman movie (and that too because that was the only thing on in the flight I was on) and have not seen X-men or Spider-man. However, I did watch the Hulk movie because Ang Lee directed it and I was rather disappointed with the final result. I’ve also seen all the Blade movies but since I never read the comic, I can’t really comment on it one way or another except to say that I liked the movies.

The Fantastic Four? That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. The Fantastic Four aren’t my favourite Marvel characters, not by a long shot. However, I’ve been reading the Fantastic Four for ages and I feel as if I know them really well and there have been certain periods in the writing of the book that I felt really close to them. The best periods that I remember are the ones from just after the whole pocket universe thing when the FF returned to Earth and there were some brilliant stories which emphasized the family aspect of the Fantastic Four.

The movie actually had some of these elements and I really liked the interaction between the different members of the Fantastic Four – the ribbing, the humour the insults. All of that seemed to be spot on. What I hated was the whole Dr. Doom bit. They ruined Victor Von Doom’s transition into Dr. Doom and in the process they also made some major characterization blunders – at least that’s how I see it. In the comics, Dr. Doom wears the mask and the metal armour because of a laboratory accident – unless of course, the story has been retconned and now it is supposed to be something else :p It makes sense for him to wear the mask because he doesn’t like the horrible appearance of his face. In the movie, Von Doom relishes the powers he gets and he doesn’t have metal armour he becomes a man of metal. Why would somebody who relishes his new "godlike" powers want to hide his metal face behind a metal mask? That just does not make sense to me.

Other than for the whole Dr. Doom bit, I enjoyed the movie and it appeared to stay true to form. Except, for one major alteration – another peeve I have with Marvel and their movies. The change? Alicia Masters is now black. I don’t really care whether a character is black or white or purple or grey. Their colour makes no difference to me. What matters is who they are. However, it annoys me when a company goes and changes a story just to be "politically correct". I don’t remember any other black characters in the story at all – maybe some of the firemen that the FF rescue are black, probably some of the waving people are black. But are any of the major characters black? No. Are any of the supporting characters (like Victor’s assistant) black? No. So why go make Alicia Masters black except as a token gesture and perhaps to say that "black people *get* being different"? Do you mean white people or brown people or yellow people or Martians don’t actually "get" what it is to be different? To me that is more racist than telling a story as it was originally told. That means that you feel guilty about what you did before … But then again, YMMV :p