It’s pretty clear at this point that Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie was something of a failed attempt at doing something a little different with Marvel’s First Family. Whether that was a misapplied vision or a result of studio interference is a debate which, we suspect, will persist for some time yet. But the film exists, and that means there are plenty of questions about it which, we suspect, audiences will want answered. And that’s why we’ve tried to answer them.
Spoilers ahead, once you scroll past Daphne The Spoiler Squirrel.
Question 1: Was Planet Zero in the Negative Zone?
Nothing in the film suggests that the planet is in Marvel’s famous alternate dimension, the Negative Zone, but Josh Trank recently confirmed on a podcast with Kevin Smith that it was his intention – they just wanted to leave naming it until a future film so as not to throw too much lore in at once.
Of course, by any reasonable standard it’s clear to comic fans where they are. And it makes sense, because Reed Richards is the traditional discoverer of the Negative Zone and typically the only one who knows how to build a doorway to it. Much as the ‘Quantum Realm’ in Ant-Man was basically the Microverse with the serial numbers filed off, this is the Negative Zone by any reasonable assessment.
Question 2: What was Doom’s plan?
At the start of the film, Doom is arrogant and uncooperative because he thinks that his work is being co-opted and corrupted by an older generation of military men and scientists eager to steal new innovations for themselves. That’s why he suggests that they use the quantum teleporter in the first place: because he wants the glory for himself.
After he’s transformed, however, he takes this idea to an almost insane extreme. He tries to use the weird ‘living energy’ found in the Negative Zone to craft a new world that he can rule, free from the intervention and influence of his elders. And at the same time, he plans to destroy the old world by opening up a rift that could suck everything in and convert it into energy.
Admittedly, his plan isn’t particularly well-discussed and you have to infer a lot of that, but we’re relatively confident that Trank was heading along those lines, thematically.
Question 3: Why were Sue and Franklin at the Science Fair?
Franklin (Sue and Johnny’s father) appears to run a kind of giant think tank which recruits science’s most precocious young minds to develop hardware for military applications. Presumably they were scouting future talent and got lucky in a way that they were not even remotely expecting by discovering Reed Richards.
Question 4: Why didn’t Doom just use his scanner’s head-explodey powers on the Fantastic Four when they attacked him?
Beats me. Presumably he forgot he had them.
Question 5: How did they beat Doom anyway?
They punched him about a bit, and then Sue made Ben invisible which allowed him to get close enough to knock Doom into the energy converter thing. That’s why he was vaporised. The job of that giant laser was to convert matter into energy, and Doom, being a person, is made largely of matter. Or was, I suppose.
Question 6: Did they say Reed had a step-dad?
Yes. In the comics, Reed Richards’ father (Nathaniel Richards) is a dimension-hopping, time-travelling ultra-scientist, so it seems probable that this is a subtle nod to that. There aren’t a huge number of easter eggs for comic fans in this film (not least the total lack of a Stan Lee cameo) but that seems like it probably is one.
Question 7: Why did Sue get powers even if she didn’t go to planet Zero?
It’s a bit blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but she gets struck with an energy discharge as the teleportation craft returns from the other dimension. The film doesn’t really have a good answer for why Sue should be sidelined like this anyway, especially given how almost every previous superhero movie has taken an absolute pounding for its poor representation of women. But that’s the choice that was made.
You could argue that it ‘makes sense’ because she’s the responsible one and wasn’t there getting drunk with the other characters, but again, that’s a choice the filmmakers made. And of everything they get wrong in this film, it’s easily the most egregious.
Question 8: Where did Doctor Doom get his cloak?
Hey, Zero’s a big planet. You don’t know that there isn’t a negative zone cloak shop around the corner of that rubble. Or maybe it was some kind of blanket that was packed away in the quantum teleporter but fell out before it could be recalled? Honestly, I don’t know anyone who has a good answer to this one.
Question 9: If Reed Richards is so smart, why did he use a pseudonym that Sue could guess when he was in hiding?
Maybe he wanted to be found. Or rather, he was hoping she’d find him.
Question 10: Does this movie take place in the same universe as X-Men?
There’s nothing in there to suggest that it does (that I could see) but that hasn’t stopped Fox mooting a possible franchise crossover. Maybe it does, it definitely isn’t explicit that it doesn’t – or maybe the plan is to use the Negative Zone as a gateway between the two universes. To be honest, the reception this film got makes it pretty unlikely that Fox will risk poisoning the X-Men franchise with a crossover, so it may be moot from now on.
Question 11: WHERE ARE THE THING’S TROUSERS?
Well, to be fair, he no longer seems to require them. Which I think makes it pretty clear what the real reason Ben Grimm is angry at Reed is.
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