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Film / The Fantastic Four

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The Fantastic... Four-gotten?
In 1992, The Constantin Film production company held the film rights to the Fantastic Four comic book, but they were about to lose said film rights unless they began production by December of that year. Since both the budget and the technology necessary for such a venture were lacking at the time, they instead opted to do a very low-budget film produced by Roger Corman and directed by journeyman music video director Oley Sassone; this was done as an Ashcan Copy to maintain the rights, and it was never released in theaters or any home media. However, a release date was set for 1994 and the cast and crew were told the film would be released. Although Stan Lee says that it was never intended to be released, Corman and producer Bernd Eichinger claim that they did plan to release it, but Marvel executive Avi Arad, fearing that it would cheapen the franchise, bought the film for the amount of money Constantin spent making it and ordered all prints destroyed.

According to some fans and critics who got their hands on the movie (circulated via bootleg video at comic-cons and such), not getting released was the best thing about it (though the Thing's costume is also considered a rare high point). Other viewers exhibit rabid devotion to it and demand an official DVD release. Most people (outside of Arrested Development fans) are unaware that the film even exists.

You can see the movie on YouTube here. More information can be found here on a website that goes behind-the-scenes into its production. Overviews of the film can be found here from The Agony Booth or here at I-Mockery.

Not to be confused with the 2005-07 duology or the 2015 film made by 20th Century Fox (on which Constantin also produced). Or the inevitable Marvel Studios-produced film, set to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The documentary created in 2015, called Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four, gives these details and much more.

This film provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: There was a subplot about Thing coping with his new form, but this is put to a halt when Alicia Masters is kidnapped.
  • Actually a Doombot: Doom seems like one, or else his gloves are living beings.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Doom accidentally gives the four their powers with his Colossus Ray experiment. Oddly enough, a similar thing would happen in both the 2005-07 and 2015 films, albeit the other way around (the FF's experiment that gave them their powers also gave Doom his).
    • The accident that disfigured Victor back in college (and forced him to wear his iconic mask) was an earlier attempt at the same experiment that would later give the Fantastic Four their powers.
  • Adaptational Villainy: This version of Dr Doom has none of the positive qualities of his comics counterpart.
  • Alternate Continuity: The film is set its own distinct continuity from the comics and later live action movies, being designated Earth-94000 in the Marvel multiverse.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Doctor Doom's brilliant plan involves taking the team's powers and adding them to his own.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Doom's giant laser oddly moves much slower than light speed, taking several minutes to reach its target, when, in reality, traveling at light speed to the opposite of the planet would only take about 1/15 of a second. And one can't just say we're seeing it in slow mo as the Human Torch is able to outrun it and intercept it. There's also the problem of how a laser could go around corners.
  • The Cameo: He is hard to make out through the VHS bootleg fuzziness, but the professor who tells the class to "Bring your imaginations" to the viewing of Colossus (no, not that one) as it passes by is Police Academy's own Commandant Lassard himself, George Gaynes.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Downplayed, since Doctor Doom is only ever referred to as just "Doom". Also his real name is only ever given as "Victor" leaving off his surname of "von Doom", presumably since the Fantastic Four don't realize that Victor and Doom are the same man until just before the climax, and the Steven Ulysses Perhero trope would've made it rather obvious.
  • Cyborg: Doom is implied to be one.
  • Disney Villain Death: Happens to Doom at the end.
  • Disability Superpower: Alicia Masters is blind but when Ben Grimm bumps into her, she can "sense" that he feels sorry about it. Sure, she has no super powers to speak of and Ben did get through telling her how sorry he was, her blindness just gives her that ability to sense peoples' emotions somehow.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Reed tries to tell Johnny that it is too dangerous for him and Sue to go to space with them until he sees Sue for the first time in years. She's apparently sexy enough for him to lose his train of thought and abandon reason all together.
  • Dull Surprise: Reed doesn't seem to react at all during the scene where the Four are irradiated, as opposed to the rather exaggerated reactions of the other three.
  • Evil Laugh: Doom's laugh is so epic that it appears in the background of a scene that has nothing to do with him, and even follows him to his death.
  • Expy: The Jeweler is without question supposed to be the Mole Man. They couldn't use the original name due to rights issues.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Doom.
  • The Grotesque: The Thing.
  • Head Bob: Dr. Doom has a severe case of this.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Reed and Ben are college students and apparently good friends with Johnny and Sue, who haven't even hit puberty yet.
  • Large Ham:
    • Joseph Culp's performance as Doctor Doom. Strangely, as the Agony Booth's review notes, Culp actually gives a sinister, understated performance in the early sections of the film, only to go batshit insane about half an hour in... Which, to the film's credit, is absolutely right for Doom.
    • Reed's teacher at the start of the film is extremely enthusiastic about the speed of light.
  • Lost Episode: Lost movie. Well, it was supposed to be lost.
  • Love at First Sight: Ben and Alicia. Well, love at first touch in the latter's case since she's blind.
  • Manly Tears: Reed starts to bawl when the ER doctor tells him that Victor's burns "were too severe".
  • May–December Romance: Reed's relationship with Sue should be this, although they don't look that much different in age once she grows up.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Doctor Doom gestures with no shame, even punctuating "you have twelve hours" by writing "12" with his fingers! (Some fans have pointed out that this kind of makes sense, as it would be in-character for Doom to think everyone else is too stupid to understand him and have to spell everything out for them)
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The movie is campy and owes a lot to the Adam West version of Batman, but we still see a surprisingly violent shootout between the Jeweler's men and Doom's.
    • When Ben wanders the streets, it's a surprisingly dark and depressing scene that might seem appropriate in some gritty 1970s drama.
  • Personality Powers: While this has always been the case with the Fantastic Four, in this movie Reed comes to believe that it's the actual cause for their specific powers, saying that the Colossus comet had "touched our psyche".
  • Precocious Crush: Sue had one on Reed when she was younger. It developed into a relationship years later.
  • Replaced with Replica: The Jeweler swaps the real diamond our heroes plan to use in their spaceship with a fake, intending to give it to the woman he's stalking. The fake diamond creates the spaceship accident that transforms our heroes. The weird part is that the "fake" one sparkles and the "real" one doesn't.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Believe it or not, the scene in which Sue grabs the zero-g pen while in space was obviously a direct homage of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Then there's the line "Holy Freud, Batman."
    • It may not have been on purpose but when Reed sees Sue for the first time since she grew up, it is almost identical to the shot in Blue Velvet in which the protagonist meets his love interest. David Lynch used the same shot in Eraserhead.
    • The sequence with the Human Torch protecting New York from Doctor Doom's "laser" is either this or an outright plagiarism of the first of the Superman Theatrical Cartoons, in which Superman likewise beats back a mad scientist's death ray he was using to try to destroy Metropolis.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mrs. Storm, who in the comics died when Sue and Johnny were relatively young, is depicted as still being alive when the Four have their accident. Oddly enough their father, who was alive (albeit in prison) during the Four's early career, isn't seen or mentioned at any point in the film.
  • Spiteful Suicide: At the end, Dr. Doom chooses to fall to his death rather than give Reed the satisfaction of beating him.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Alicia and Ben both instantly fall in love when they bump into each other. They don't even say their names. Alicia immediately goes home and sculpts Ben's face and is even seen licking some of the clay from her fingertips.
    • Likewise, the Jeweler has apparently been stalking her and falls in love with her.
  • Take My Hand!: Even in his moment of victory, Richards lacks the courage to deliver the final blow.
  • Threat Backfire: The Jeweler tries to get Dr. Doom to back off by threatening to kill Alicia. Doom, who has never even heard of her before and has no particular reason to care whether she lives or dies, is not impressed.
  • Title Drop: Mrs. Storm does it with enthusiasm and little explanation.
  • Truer to the Text: Perhaps ironically, aside from a few artistic licenses, this film is more faithful to the Fantastic Four comics than any of the officially-released films that followed.
  • Two Decades Behind:
    • If it wasn't for the CG effects for the Human Torch, you'd believe that this movie was straight from the 70's considering its low production values note . This movie was actually made in 1994, a full year after Jurassic Park was released.
    • The space suits that the group wear vaguely resemble early space suits worn by astronauts in the early '60s. At the time of this film's production space suits were given a drastically different re-design to allow for safer travel in space.
    • The footage of the house blowing up to establish the power of Dr. Doom's laser cannon is Stock Footage of a house being obliterated by an atomic bomb from 1955. This would have been especially obvious to '90s audiences given the clip's notoriety in the media during the Cold War.
  • Urban Legend: Rumor has it that Marvel bought the film and locked the master copy in a vault so it would never see the light of day. Other accounts claim that Avi Arad burned the negatives himself.
  • Was Once a Man: Doom feels this way.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Jeweler was mostly responsible for the Fantastic Four's transformation (long story) and kidnapped Thing's girlfriend, yet most of the main characters never meet him. He simply walks off camera in a scene with Dr. Doom and is never seen or mentioned again.