Marvel Studios* (see below) continues its string of strong, intriguing teaser trailers with this morning’s first glimpse of the reimagined Fantastic Four.
Marvel has mastered the selection of dramatic, visually arresting images to pique viewers’ interest. (That shot of the car racing across a wide, open field, though, does remind me of young Jim Kirk stealing the classic car in the Star Trek 2009 trailer; and that final, heavenward energy blast sure looks like it belongs in Star Trek V…. but I’m an unrepentant Trekkie, so many things remind me of Trek.) If you’re familiar with the FF’s traditional origin story, there’s enough here to help you get your bearings amid what look like some promising changes. For instance, juding from what I assume is a newly rock-ified (wait, rock-ified?) Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) rising from the rubble, our heroes still acquire their powers in some kind of scientific mission gone horribly wrong; however, it doesn’t look like they’re stealing a spaceship or passing through tak-tak-takking cosmic rays. I like the Human Torch’s “flame on” effect (I wonder if Michael B. Jordan will utter that famous catchphrase?). The trailer’s simple score, dominated by a pulsating piano, sets a tone of mystery tinged with the suggestion of barely controlled power, just itching to burst forth.
Unlike Marvel’s recent Ant-Man trailer, however, this trailer is filled with a foreboding that, at first glance, seems out-of-step with the FF’s dominant ethos. The narration from Reg E. Cathey (Dr. Franklin Storm) talks about many ideals I associate with the “First Family” of superhero comics–humanity’s “immeasurable desire to discover, to invent, to build”–but tempers any unbridled optimism in our ability to make progress: “With every new discovery, there is risk. There is sacrifice. And there are consequences.”
It’s hard to deny the truth of Dr. Storm’s assessment. It’s not as though the FF have never explored that theme in four colors; I’m reminded of the “Solve Everything” story arc that kicked off Jonathan Hickman’s acclaimed run on the series, for example. And, as a sci-fi Christian, I certainly honor Scripture’s testimony to the same reality. When we trust too much in ourselves, when we lean too much on our own understanding and too little on the Lord, trouble inevitably follows. Had our forebears been able to foresee the unintended, negative consequences of the forces that forged our modern world, we might not find ourselves facing crises of climate, economy, and government today. Going forward, we as a society must act with greater attention to possible long-term risks as well as potential short-term benefits.
All the same, the FF doesn’t seem like the arena for this kind of cautionary tale. Sure: Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny must live with unintended fallout from their flight, but I don’t think of them as Frankenstein monsters (The Thing’s craggy countenance notwithstanding). The team embodies creativity and imagination and hope. They meet challenges head-on with courage and optimism, and more than a dash of humor. I love the term Mark Waid coined for them a decade ago: Imaginauts!
Here’s hoping the new Fantastic Four film skews more toward Guardians of the Galaxy than Dark Knight. Let’s celebrate our ability to strive for a better, brighter future—recognizing our limitations, to be sure, but confident that the responsibility for making progress rests not just on future generations’ shoulders, as Dr. Storm says in the trailer, but on ours.
*CORRECTION: The film rights to the Fantastic Four currently belong to 20th Century Fox, not Marvel Studios.