Inventor, astronaut and scientist Dr. Reed Richards’ lifelong dream is close to being realized. He is spearheading a trip to outer space, to the center of a cosmic storm. There he hopes to unlock the secrets of the human genetic codes for the benefit of all humanity. Extensive government grant cutbacks nearly dashed the visionary’s hopes of the historic flight, until Reed accepted a financing deal with his old college rival, Victor Von Doom, now a billionaire industrialist. Reed’s crew for the mission includes his best friend, astronaut Ben Grimm ; Sue Storm, Von Doom’s director of genetic research and Reed’s ex-girlfriend; and Sue’s hot-headed younger brother, pilot Johnny Storm. With benefactor Von Doom in tow, the four set off for the exploration of a lifetime.
The mission is uneventful -- until Reed discovers a miscalculation of the speed of the approaching storm. Within minutes, the event threshold is upon them. The space station is engulfed by turbulent clouds of cosmic radiation which genetically transforms the crew. Their DNA is irrevocably altered…and so is their future. Back on earth, the effects of the exposure are quickly revealed. Reed gains the ability to stretch and contort his body into any shape he can imagine and, as leader of the group, is given the name Mr. Fantastic; Sue is able to render herself invisible and to create and project powerful force fields as Invisible Woman; Johnny becomes known as The Human Torch, as he can now engulf his body in flames and take flight at will; and Ben, whose freakish transmutation is the most shocking, becomes an orange-colored, rock-like, superhumanly strong creature, The Thing.
Together, they turn tragedy into triumph and catastrophe into coalition, using their unique and formidable powers to thwart the evil plans of their now steely-eyed, iron-fisted nemesis Dr. Doom and to protect the citizens of New York City against any threat that may arise. Astronauts. Superheroes. Celebrities. To the world, they are the Fantastic Four. To each other, they are a family.
FANTASTIC FOUR is based on Marvel’s longest running comic book series, which has well-earned its moniker as “The Greatest Comic in the World.” While several Marvel comics-to-film adaptations have preceded FANTASTIC FOUR, most notably the “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” features, FANTASTIC FOUR required, for self-evident reasons, four times the special effects power of any previous comic-to-film epics; indeed, the film’s finalized effects are so groundbreaking that the technology used to create them didn’t even exist a year ago. But for all its state-of-the-art effects, what makes FANTASTIC FOUR special is its humor and emotion. The characters are, after all, the superhero world’s most famous dysfunctional family.
The “fantastic” phenomenon began 44 years ago, when Marvel Comics’ publisher Martin Goodman, after playing a round of golf with an industry competitor, decided to move forward with an intriguing idea. Goodman shared it with the legendary comics writer Stan Lee. Lee wanted his superheroes to be real people without secret identities. “I wanted to create them as if they were real people living amongst us in the real world who just happened to have super powers,” he says. “They are the first family of superheroes, four people who live and work together like a family. We hadn’t seen a relationship like that in the comics prior to Fantastic Four and it made them very unique and very popular among the fans.
For Stan Lee, seeing this comic book come to life is truly a “Marvel-ous” feeling. “It’s thrilling really,” says Lee. “Fox has wanted to make this movie for a long time. I’m glad they waited for the right story and the right technology. They certainly got the perfect cast and it’s all going to be up there on the big silver screen…the humor, the drama, the adventure, the action, the fun…all the things that make them so fantastic.”
The movie adaptation of Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic book was in development for over a decade, as producers like Constantin Films’ Bernd Eichinger and Chris Columbus’ 1492 Productions searched for the right screenplay. Over a period of years, several writers penned script drafts. Things began to coalesce with Michael France’s (“Hulk”) screenplay. After several other drafts, writer Mark Frost (“Twin Peaks”), also a fan of the Fantastic Four comics, stepped in to continue shaping the script. When director Tim Story came aboard the project, he oversaw drafts that continued to center on the comics. Of course, it was impossible to be faithful to all the comics stories – they number in the thousands – but Story understood that the film would have to be loyal to the characters. He also wanted to humanize the characters, particularly Dr. Doom, who was perhaps less developed in previous drafts than the four heroes.