Friday, September 24, 2010

The Key to the Fantastic Four Re-Boot

First, I have no idea who will deign to spend their good time reading this. If you are here, I will do my best to give you an entertaining view or an enlightening view of heroic fantasy - and how incredible it is to find it in the Christian faith as a real expectation.

I have a very personal view that the Bible contains almost every kind of story or tale that needs to be told and that by studying it, you could at the very least create a new piece of fiction for this generation, and they would 'oooohhh' and 'ahhhhh' and still have no clue that they were just getting an old tale re-vamped for the modern age.

So it follows that if I want to say "This is how we should re-boot the Fantastic Four" I am going to be doing some allegory or parallel from the life of David or Samson or Abraham or Jesus, etc. - right?

Not precisely - we get to mix and match too. Jealousy and hatred are as old as the story of Cain and Abel, King Saul and King David, the Pharisees and Jesus.

So maybe I should say all the archetypes and dramatic motives are there in the Bible.

The first thing to do is separate the story into 3 parts and reveal what the stakes are - what would gained or lost should our heroes succeed/fail: world, family, money, scientific advancement, reaching the stars, etc.

First, as Mark Waid has pointed out, the Fantastic Four is about family. Reed Richards is married to Susan Storm, and his best friend, Ben Grimm is their pilot. Johnny Storm, Susan's younger brother is a brash mechanical genius before they all become one fantastically empowered fighting unit who spends much of their time fighting Victor Von Doom.

Secondly, it should start as all great heroic tales with a great loss and something precious being destroyed. That precious thing is the friendship of Victor and Reed. As Victor goes further and further emotionally into the Darkness after his Big Error, Reed finds hope and [at least some] redemption in his love and friendship with his crew for his Big Error.

Thirdly, it should start when there was some hope that Victor would be a good kid and we need to make the audience weep for the villain even as we support the hero. [ Following images respectfully stolen from http://slaymonstrobot.blogspot.com/2009/09/marvel-1964-week-fantastic-four-annual.html. Go visit a cool blog! ]

By the way, I think Victor Von Doom was the dark reflection of Tony Stark or Reed Richards, and when Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created him, they were facing down the barrel of the Cold War with European dictators popping up as puppets of the Soviet regime. So this will start as a social-political theme and get more personal.

Victor Comes to America, Land of the Free
1) Reed Richards becomes roommates with fellow physics/electronic engineering major Victor "von Damme" - he survived the Bosnia-Herzegovina bloodshed as a child, though his mother died as a gypsy and a witch. His father, a more educated man who had fallen in love with her wild ways, took the boy into universities and tried to get him away from the superstition of his clan. War broke out and with the threat of racial cleansing, his father ran for his life. He was able to send Victor to America under the care of Boris, but died soon after. His homeland Latveria was re-formed as hostilities ceased, and he entered MIT.

2) With both losses, Victor stays isolated, unwilling to share his grief or pain with anyone else - who could possibly understand? Enter kind Reed Richards and Susan Storm. Sue Storm is a compassionate woman and deeply respects Reed, who's her senior by ten years. Reed is also a bit of a father figure to Johnny her little brother, and they try hard to get Victor out of the labs and dorm room and have SOME fun.

3) Reed ends up befriending another sour-puss named Ben Grimm, who's an astronaut wanna-be. Reed's theories on accomplishing FTL travel intrigue the gruff pilot - and after defending Reed from some local toughs, they become fast friends. "You ever need a pilot, buddy, let me know!"

Doom Is Unimpressed
4) Victor sees the brightest minds of the Marvel universe at MIT: Tony Stark, Henry Pym and Bruce Banner, and each one fails to impress him in one way or another. But Richards, he begins to respect. He is open to ANY suggestion and will think it through. When his father dies and his personal effects are returned - along with his mother's 'special diary' of witchcraft, he begins to see a possibility of merging scientific method with sympathetic magic at the quantum level. "Are not quarks 'magical'?" muses von Doom.

5) Eagerly, he explains it to his buddy Reed and no one else: Victor dreams of escaping the boundaries of space-time for exploration, possibly even to set his mother free from hell. With the proper equipment, Victor can even unravel the mysteries of quantum foam, including hidden dimensions and tap into their power source. "Think Richards! We could learn the very secrets of creation!"

6) Richards sees the cynical Victor begin to express hope for the first time - but 'such a hope'! He tries to reason with him, especially on this space-time formula that could rend their local environment uncontrollably. "It would be the equivalent of a runaway nuclear reactor, Victor - only it would be dismantling our universe! It's a great idea - brilliant even - but if this theoretical constant is not what you are guessing - if you've made one error..." "Doom NEVER makes errors, Richards!" Angered at Richard's wisdom, he moves out of the dorm the next day.

7) For weeks, no one knows where to find Victor - at the last moment, Richards does - in an old sub-basement of the particle physics lab. - and sees the portal grow, get unstable and BLOW UP in Victor's face. Victor flees civilization, going where no man can find him or see him.

8) "Science has failed me!" growls the angry young man. "I will now seek my answers elsewhere!" in weeks he's traveled from Eastern Europe to Northern India and from there to Tibet.

9) He learns self-control and mastery over his body and delves into magic whole-heartedly. [As a small joke, one monk says to another 'This white man is TWICE as angry as the LAST one.' 'I agree, my son.' Turns to another monk - "Brother Lotus, what was HIS name?' 'Wain. Broos Wain.' ;)]

10) With his wealth, Doom makes himself a suit of hi-tech body armor so he can return to Latveria. Sick of the hounding his family has received at their hands for generations, Doom plans and executes a full coupe using robotic soldiers.

Now the tyrant, Victor christens himself "Doctor Doom" and announces that Latveria is a sovereign nation unto itself.



We'll pick up from there next time...

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