Fantastic Four Movie Trailer Analysis

Josh Trank's Fantastic Four movie trailer arrived, and actually reveals more than it's brief running time would suggest.

I have to admit, I think the Fantastic Four trailer was a pleasant surprise. After months of worrying about the status of this movie, Josh Trank spoke up about his vision for it (finally), and then showed us a trailer that, while not at all a traditional look at Marvel’s most iconic team, looks markedly different from other superhero movies out there.

The Fantastic Four trailer certainly looks more sci-fi than superhero. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, of course, and less than two minutes of footage doesn’t stand for much when you’re talking about a 130-minute movie. But at the very least, the trailer quelled fears that this was a “found footage” movie like Chronicle, and there are some moments in here that are recognizably fantastic.

For starters, you can watch the trailer here if you haven’t already, and then move on to our analysis:

I haven’t gone chronologically through the trailer, but rather tried to make connections based on what we know and what’s been shown to us here. 

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So, let’s get started…

The Basics

Hey, look! At least it’s set in New York City, right? Can anybody spot the Baxter Building?

But what about this other location?

It would seem the Grimm family owns a business of some kind. Since the next shot is of Reed and Ben in a garage, perhaps that’s what they do. But this looks like countryside, or at least the suburbs. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Yancy Street in this movie, unfortunately. But on to that garage stuff…

These next two images…

This is pretty explicitly taken straight out of the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four #1. Reed and Ben are childhood friends, and while Reed is the genius of the bunch, Ben isn’t exactly a dummy, either. At the very least, he’ll probably help protect young Reed from bullies, give him a place to work (in the Grimm garage/workshop), and maybe keep him from getting grounded for inventing dangerous tech.

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Speaking of dangerous tech…

This, which is probably the equivalent of the rocketship from the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby comics, just looks really cool. We’re looking at an interdimensional rather than an interstellar origin for the characters in this one. I’m trying to reconcile this with the other pod we see elsewhere in the trailer. More on that in a minute…

Whatever it is that gives them their powers, it’s government sponsored. I just like this shot because the reflection of the plans from the screen to the table look like the classic Fantastic Four logo. 

I only included this shot because I like the design of the spacesuits. Director Josh Trank has talked about his desire to make this feel more like a science fiction film than a superhero one, and while a spacesuit doesn’t equal “hard sci-fi,” I have to at least admire the sentiment.

There are six astronauts here. The fifth is Toby Kebbell as Victor Domashev (Von Doom!), but who could the sixth one be? Or is number six just the equivalent of a red shirt in Star Trek? Someone has to croak in order to show off how serious the mission is. Unless there are two different missions to the other dimension? Is this image the same room, but after it’s been ravaged by interdimensional energies, for instance?

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It would make sense, as one of these devices looks considerably more high-tech and polished than the others, and there’s the discrepancy between the black spacesuits and the white ones.

Perhaps this one is where things go wrong, and the second, more low-tech attempt is made by the Four.

Josh Trank also talked about David Cronenberg’s The Fly as an influence on the look of the movie. There’s something to be said about that with this weird, interdimensional pod thing. Here’s another, more colorful look at it:

And that fella looking at it…?

The voice of the trailer, Mr. Reg E. Cathey. He is Dr. Franklin Storm, Reed’s boss, Johnny’s Dad, and Sue’s stepfather. See how easy that was to figure out and explain?

The Team

Now, it’s always been said that there’s an elemental aspect to the Four’s powers, or that they reflect different aspects of their personalities. I feel like these shots may reflect some of that:

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Our first look at Reed Richards as an adult. The shapes of the walkway and the beams above him all kind of reflect the strange contortions that Mr. Fantastic (a name I doubt we’re going to hear in this movie) are capable of. He’s also rather young to be in charge of a project like this, indicating that he “stretches” himself to the limit quite often.

The shape-changing nature of his powers is usually compared to water, but it could also be reflective of the adaptability of knowledge, and perhaps Reed’s own adaptability.

Awww…even in his containment suit, he wears his glasses and you can see how enthused he is about the whole thing.

Oh, goodness…he isn’t smiling anymore, now is he?

The usual correlation with Sue Storm’s invisibility is the elemental “air.” But perhaps here it’s “information.” Speaking of information, there’s a fun little Easter Egg in this next image.

The good folks at ScreenCrush pointed out that if you type those numbers into your address bar, you get taken to a Latveria wiki. Nice touch.

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I don’t know where this shot fits chronologically, but again, it seems to make the connection between Sue’s invisibility and “air.” I presume this is in the negative zone where they all end up, and her dark uniform indicates that this is later in the film.

Here’s Ben Grimm, playing baseball. He’s using an aluminum bat, so I think my “elemental” analysis of the team’s powers and how they’re represented just fell apart. But, y’know, Reed is a youngster in a ridiculous lab, and here’s Ben with muscles about to drive in some runs, I guess.

Here’s Ben Grimm, breaking out of a rocky coccoon. It looks like there’s a hint of actual organic matter on his right side there, which actually could provide for some uncomfortably gruesome visuals.

Oh, look, it’s excellent actor Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm! What’s he fixing here? And that looks like an awfully nice room to just be a garage. 

I kinda dig the obligatory “flame on” shot.

Their Powers

Now, aside from the actual “travel” aspect that kicks off their origin, we also have to deal with them discovering and coming to terms with their powers. For one thing, the initial “horror” of the discovery of their powers dates right back to the pages of Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I don’t see the harm in foregrounding it a little for the movie. Here’s how it looks to be handled here:

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This is probably the Negative Zone, where the team end up with their unfortunate powers. Unless there’s yet another mission to the other side. The chronology of this trailer is strange, and I’m not helping by not going chronologically through it. Anybody remember the Supergirl movie? The Phantom Zone kind of looked like this, didn’t it?

That’s Reed crawling through some wreckage, but is that Johnny Storm having his initial “oh god, why am I on fire?” moment in the background? Or is this some other poor unfortunate who doesn’t make it through the mission alive, while the core four end up altered?

Also, I feel like in a couple of shots it looks like Reed is having trouble holding his face together. You see a little of it here:

And it’s more pronounced in the only “stretching” scene we see:

This containment suit with heat vents is probably the closest thing to a superhero uniform we’re going to see in the movie.

And here’s Johnny and sister Sue playing tag? I presume that’s one of Sue’s forcefields, or a visual representation of her invisibility powers. I don’t think “turning invisible” is going to be anything this movie is going to particularly tout as being the main power selling point of one of its main characters, so expect Sue’s other abilities to come to the front, with terrific visual cues.

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That would be Victor Domashev Dr. Doom on the table there. I presume this next shot is also Doctor Doom making everyone’s weapons go haywire:

And then finally…

Yes, this is the seemingly obligatory “giant laser beam” shot that superhero movies have. But it’s also the closest to an iconic Fantastic Four image in the entire trailer, and our best look at the Thing.  

The Fantastic Four opens on August 7th, 2015.