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Five Questions Raised by the “Fantastic Four” Teaser Trailer

by  in Movie News, TV News Comment
Five Questions Raised by the “Fantastic Four” Teaser Trailer

In a less than two-minute span, fans went from knowing virtually nothing about director Josh Trank‘s “Fantastic Four” to knowing… well, slightly more than nothing about Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four.”

First “Fantastic Four” Teaser Reveals Discovery Comes With Risk

The release of the first teaser trailer for the anticipated and already much-debated reboot offered moviegoers their first glimpse of the world Trank’s Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben will inhabit. But while the quick cuts and voiceover jibe with the director’s stated preference to ground the movie in realistic sci-fi trappings, it didn’t really offer any clarity when it comes to some of the major questions fans have been asking for months — it a “teaser” trailer, after all. More than that, it also added a few new questions to the mix, questions CBR’s editorial staff was more than willing to look at a little more closely.

Albert Ching, Brett White and Meagan Damore contributed to this article.

Will They Have Codenames?

Just like super abilities and costumes, codenames are an essential a part of superhero lore — but does that mean that names like “Human Torch” and “Mr. Fantastic” are locks for Trank’s reboot? After all, the footage presented in the trailer indicates that the foursome may not even don true costumes; Michael B. Jordan has gone on record as saying the four are outfitted in something more akin to “containment suits,” a comment backed up by the trailer. After watching the teaser, with its somber score and dramatic shots, it’s kinda hard to imagine hearing someone say the name “Invisible Woman” with a straight face, so it is possible that codenames don’t have a place in Trank’s hard sci-fi take. 

But let’s not pretend that codenames haven’t presented a problem in almost every other superhero film. Most films have to come up with some way to justify their existence — usually by having the media give the heroes a codename for headlines. The Four’s codenames are also slightly more tangential than characters like Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America. The codename “Mr. Fantastic” was barely given a passable explanation by Stan Lee way back in 1961, and “Human Torch” does seem like a bit of a leap when a variation on the more obvious “Fireman” is right there. Still, in keeping with comic book movie tradition, “Fantastic Four” might have a journalist-type within its cast that could give the quartet monikers. Doctor Doom is supposed to be a blogger, remember?

Was That Doctor Doom?

Apart from the other changes present in Trank’s “The Fantastic Four” trailer, Doctor Doom has infamously undergone a series of alterations that has removed him from his comic book counterparts, right down to his very name.  According to actor Toby Kebbell, the character will go by Victor Domashev in the film, rather than his comic surnames Von Doom or van Damme. Likewise, Kebbell dropped a major bomb when he revealed that his character would be a “very anti-social programmer” who goes by the handle “Doom” online.

With Doom’s character undergoing so many changes, it’s odd that the trailer reveals so little about his fate or transformation. He is likely to be one of the six people entering the device, per the “Ultimates” origin of the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom. Though each member of the main team — Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben — gets a feature that reveals something about them, Doom receives no such treatment. It appears as though he is the man on the operating table at the very end of the trailer, issuing Reed a dire warning, though the trailer offers no close-ups or true confirmation of this, focusing on the man for only 2 seconds; we only see Reed speaking to someone who looks as if he is encased in some kind of metal suit that covers his entire body, including his face — which is very interesting, considering that Ultimate Doom’s entire body is covered in solid metal that grants him superhuman strength and durability. 

On the other hand, at 1:12, we get a quick flash of a man walking down a dark hallway with explosions going off in front of him; when the light hits his face, it seems to reflect off his cheek with a metallic gleam. Could this be our new Doom in action?

All of that said, it’s entirely possible that the trailer could pull a bait-and-switch, where one or both of these as of yet unknown characters is actually the sixth member of the team. Speaking of which…

Who Is the Sixth Member?

The trailer shows six people suited up and ready to climb into the elaborate — and probably dangerous — experiment being conducted in film’s formative moments. Five of those people have got to be the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom. No, Victor Von Doom wasn’t around for the Four’s origin back in the ’60s, but he was a part of the inciting incident in “Ultimate Fantastic Four,” so it’s likely that he’s one of the six, but that still leaves a containment suit-wearing individual unidentified. Could this be a no-name character created to die during the experiment to demonstrate the event’s danger? Or possibly Doom’s significant other, whose death leads him to his hatred for Reed Richards? Could this be the origin story for a future FF villain, like Mole Man or Kang or Molecule Man? Odds are it’ll be the former, but we’ll go ahead and say it: the Fantastic Four’s origin seems like the perfect place for a Stan Lee cameo.

What’s With the Plane?

At two separate points during the “Fantastic Four” teaser trailer, a plane is seen. The plane doesn’t necessarily seem that exciting by itself — it doesn’t resemble the Fantasticar or the Pogo-Plane, or any of the FF’s other flying vehicles from comic book lore — but the solo shot of it at approximately 1:05 into the trailer is certainly conspicuous. Out of everything that could have been shown in this first trailer — and everything that wasn’t shown — the producers saw fit to include a cut to a plane flying in midair. Worth noting.

But! It looks like the plane is back approximately 30 seconds later, being swept into the beam of light coming into the sky. While it’s not clear at this point if it’s the same plane, the proximity of the imagery makes it at least a good bet. What that all means, of course, remains to be revealed, but feel free to sharpen your theories as to what type of precious cargo the plane may be carrying, and its relevance to the clearly significant scene that closes the clip.

What About Tone?

Much of the early talk from fans on “Fantastic Four” centered on exactly how serious the film would take itself. The word “grounded” got thrown around a lot, leading to speculation that this would be something of a dark, grim take on the quartet of dimension-hopping explorers — a marked departure from the more campy fare of the 2005 and 2007 films, and potentially jarring to fans of the group’s more lighthearted comic book adventures. (Though, it should be noted, the “Fantastic Four” comic book has gotten plenty serious at times over the decades.)

Indeed, the teaser trailer does seem pretty darn serious. There’s moody music, lofty narration and not a lot of smiling — even when Ben is playing baseball or Johnny’s working on his car. There’s no fun songs or Human Torch zipping around — tonally, it’s about the opposite of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” trailer. Yet, for as much as it seems to be a hard sci-fi take on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s classic Marvel concept, it doesn’t look especially “grim.”

Ultimately, it’s difficult to make any firm assessment on what the actual tone of the film may be — just because there aren’t any jokes in the teaser doesn’t mean there won’t be any jokes in the film. A trailer is marketing, after all, and there’s been countless examples of a movie being sold one way, and the actual product being something else entirely. Also, there’s no reason to presume that a “serious” “Fantastic Four” film is mutually exclusive from a “good” one — the comic has been many things in its 50-plus years, and its latest adaptation appears to also be experimenting in genre and tone.

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