GO­ING FOURTH IN STYLE

Noth­ing says box-of­fice hit like a Marvel movie, so the latest take on the Fan­tas­tic Four is no sur­prise – let’s see how it works this time

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

IF there’s one thing we’ve learnt in this new age of in­ter­con­nected su­per­hero movie uni­verses, it’s that comic book geeks are very hard to please. En­ter­ing the su­per­heroscape as a team packs a lot less pres­sure than fly­ing solo.

“I just think that you’re sub­ject to a lot more ridicule if the movie’s called Spi­der-Man and you are Spi­der-Man,” says Miles Teller, who slips into a su­per-suit for the rein­vig­o­rated Fan­tas­tic Four.

Cre­ated in 1961, the Fan­tas­tic Four were Marvel’s orig­i­nal su­per-unit – mak­ing their comic book de­but two years be­fore the Avengers. Yet, un­til now, the four­some’s screen for­tunes have lagged well be­hind that of Iron Man and Co.

Send­ing the car­toon­ish Gruf­fudd/Alba/Evans/Chik­lis ef­forts of a decade ago off to a par­al­lel moviev­erse, Fan­tas­tic Four is reborn in fit­tingly mod­ern and gritty style.

A se­quel is slated to fol­low this new ori­gins movie in 2017.

As di­rected by Josh “Chron­i­cle” Trank, Fan­tas­tic Four takes the same ap­proach as the comics, pre­sent­ing a group of re­lat­able kids who grap­ple with huge life changes when a science experiment goes hor­ri­bly wrong, leav­ing them sad­dled with strange pow­ers.

Science prodigy Reed Richards, played by Teller, gains limbs that can bend and stretch.

Fel­low bof­fin Sue Storm, Kate Mara, can lev­i­tate, be­come in­vis­i­ble and pro­ject a force-field.

Her trou­ble­maker brother Johnny, Michael B. Jor­dan, be­comes a fly­ing hu­man fire­ball.

And Reed’s best friend Ben Grimm, Bri­tish ac­tor Jamie Bell, turns hulk­ing rock man­mon­ster.

Jor­dan, whose path from child ac­tor to break­out star has taken in The Wire, Fri­day Night Lights, Chron­i­cle and ac­claimed in­die film Fruitvale Sta­tion, reck­ons he got the pick of the bunch: “But I’m a lit­tle bi­ased,” he laughs.

While there was a back­lash from some purists to the cast­ing of an AfricanAmer­i­can as a char­ac­ter al­ways drawn in the comics as white and blonde, Jor­dan grew up idol­is­ing Johnny Storm/The Hu­man Torch.

Mara holds no child­hood comic book mem­o­ries.

“I pre­sume a lot of lit­tle girls grew up want­ing to be su­per­heroes, but I just wasn’t ex­posed to comic books as a child; I was ex­posed to a lot of old films and mu­si­cals, so that was more of a dream of mine than be­ing a su­per­hero.”

Still, the 32-year-old, whose cred sky­rock­eted with her tough House Of Cards role, was struck by the pos­si­bil­i­ties of play­ing un­will­ing su­per Sue.

“I was in­ter­ested in play­ing a su­per­hero who, at first, is hes­i­tant. In this first film, we’re meet­ing Sue be­fore she has her pow­ers, see­ing her be­ing very shy and fo­cused and pas­sion­ate about her job. So then it’s very fit­ting that she be­comes The In­vis­i­ble Woman.

“But I’m very hope­ful we can make more movies and I can play the other side of Sue, where she re­ally does start to em­brace her pow­ers and see the good in them.”

In this telling of the story, Reed Richards/Mr Fan­tas­tic is not yet a revered leader of the Marvel uni­verse. He’s more an ide­al­is­tic kid with a big idea.

“Reed is a pretty iso­lated, highly in­tel­lec­tual kid who is just ob­sessed with in­vent­ing this quan­tum gate and be­ing able to ex­plore in­ter­di­men­sional travel,” ex­plains Teller, Hol­ly­wood’s It-twen­tysome­thing male in the wake of the Os­car-win­ning Whiplash.

“He’s not look­ing to lead this group, but he re­alises he’s re­spon­si­ble for turn­ing ev­ery­body into the peo­ple they are and can’t just hide away from his prob­lems and his pow­ers –he needs to do some­thing about it.”

The ac­tors as­sem­bled to play the Four were al­ready well ac­quainted. Jor­dan and Teller had worked to­gether (along with Zac Efron) in the 2014 rom-com Are We Of­fi­cially Dat­ing? and Mara was friendly with both Bell and Jor­dan.

Mara says Bell oc­cu­pied the same place on set as his char­ac­ter does in the film.

“Ben is re­ally the heart of the Fan­tas­tic Four – Jamie is ac­tu­ally very sim­i­lar .

“We all had an easy time with him.”

The Fan­tas­tic Four – Kate Mara, Jamie "The Thing" Bell, Miles Teller and Michael B Jor­dan.

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