With its June 2015 release date fast approaching, more and more information about the Fox’s long awaited reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise is being revealed. The most recent news might have come as a bit of a shock to longtime fans of Marvel’s First Family; Kate Mara, the actress bringing Sue Storm to life in director Josh Trank’s film, admitted that she’s not that well-read when it comes to comics.
“I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one,” Mara told Esquire Mexico. But she does have a perfectly legitimate excuse as to why she still hasn’t read an FF comic, even after landing the Invisible Woman gig. “I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published.”
We have to say up front that we’re totally cool with Kate Mara’s admission. She’s a fantastic actress, as evidenced by her work on “House of Cards,” and reading comics is not a prerequisite for acting or living. Some people simply don’t read comics, and that’s totally cool. What’s more important to note is that she was up for reading some after she got cast in “Fantastic Four.” Trank’s advice to stay away from source material isn’t uncommon, either, as comic book movie directors from Bryan Singer to James Gunn have advised against actors paying attention to pages not in the shooting script. But with all that in mind, if Kate Mara decides she wants to dive into her character’s four color history, perhaps after she’s wrapped shooting, we have some recommendations!
The Fantastic Four! (Fantastic Four #1-10)
If you’re interested in learning about the history of your character, Kate, there’s maybe no better place to start than the first volume of “Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four.” This collects the very first ten issues of “Fantastic Four” ever, first published starting way back in 1961. We say “maybe,” because even though Sue Storm makes Marvel history as the company’s first modern superheroine, these comics were still written in the early ’60s, so, yeah, they can be kinda frustrating. The FF dote on Sue, she gets captured by villains a lot, does house work, and tears up over the fact that she’s not as powerful as the men. It’s not a great start to the character, but you might appreciate these issues when placed in context with what comes next.
Malice & The Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four #276-284)
Sue came into her own during a stretch of issues written and drawn by a creator named John Byrne. This time period, mostly the early ’80s, can be found in the “Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne” series of collections; the one you should look for is volume 6. In that crop of comics, Sue Storm officially exchanges her original codename, Invisible Girl, for a new one — Invisible Woman. This comes after a conflict with the Psycho-Man, a bad guy whose power boils down to “mind control.” After being under the influence of Psycho-Man, Sue takes charge of her mind and powers by the end of this story, finally proving that she’s actually the most powerful member of the Four.
The Fantastic (Ultimate Fantastic Four #1-6)
Okay, Kate! This might be the best place to start, as this storyline gives Sue a fresh start and a modern origin. Bye-bye housework, hello biochemistry. This version of your character is 18 years old, a flat out genius, and realizes her power level from the get go. Since this story takes place in a whole other universe, this version of Sue’s character has been allowed to grow in drastically different ways. She eventually says ‘goodbye’ to Reed Richards and cements herself as the biggest brain in this version of the Marvel Universe.
Wolf At The Door 4 (Marvel Knights 4 #1-4)
If you’re looking for something a bit more grounded and character-driven, there’s this collection by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Steve McNiven. The FF go bankrupt and find themselves evicted from their huge building all in one issue — and then they have to find day jobs. Sue becomes a substitute English teacher, while the Thing turns to construction and the Human Torch returns to acting (or, really, he tries to get a job just being famous). This book really plays up the team’s family aspect, something I bet you can relate to now that you’ve been working with your Fantastic co-stars for a little while now.
Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman
Really, Kate, we just want to loan you the entire “Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman” set of books. If you check out some of the other suggestions on this list, you’ll get a good grasp on the FF comics. If you check out this one, though, you’ll be reading what will go down as the most epic, heart-wrenching, touching, action-packed, and uplifting “Fantastic Four” story of the past thirty years. Sue Storm gets a lot of time to shine, as she travels across the universe, stands up against the leaders of Atlantis, and unleashes her full power set on an invading army of hostile aliens. We don’t know what your shooting script includes, but there’s a solid chance you’ll want to make sure a few of these moments make their way into the sequel!
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