The Primordial Soup: Let’s talk about the Fantastic Four

So this movie came out not too long ago.


The reviews have been…not stellar.  Granted I haven’t seen the film yet but looking at this,


I think it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty crappy movie.  But I want to do something different with the Fantastic Four.  They’ve had a massive streak of horrible luck when it comes to movies



So instead of reverting back to the same angry outbursts and the same tired old jokes let’s talk about how we can make the Fantastic Four better.  Here are three ways we could put one of the greatest superhero teams into a movie that could actually be half way decent.

1. Embrace the insanity

The Fantastic Four was created by legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby.


Jack Kirby was the artist who worked with Stan Lee to create such icons as the Hulk, The Black Panther, and Thor, who is especially interesting because Marvel’s Thor is probably the best representation of one of Jack Kirby’s favorite tropes/theories: The Ancient Astronaut Theory.

Basically the theory goes like this: A long time ago aliens visited Earth and had such advanced science and technology that the humans who observed them thought they were gods.  They preceded to tell everyone they saw about these gods and that is how beings like Zeus or Thor came into being.  Kirby was a big fan of this theory and it showed up in his work which is why Thor is a living being from another dimension.


That’s the sort of thing that needs to be in a Fantastic Four movie.  The Marvel Universe is filled to the brim with strange and crazy alien races with all sorts of weird powers and abilities and would make for fantastic stories.  You have one of the Fantastic Four’s greatest foes, Galactus (who is NOT a goddamn cloud monster like the movies dammit!) who is a being of cosmic power that eats planets, not out of spite or malice, but simply because he’s hungry.  If the second Fantastic Four movie had this on screen with more time to explain his motivations.


You’d have an amazing movie.  The point is that the Marvel universe is home to some of the strangest alien beings ever seen in literature and most of them became known through the Fantastic Four.

2. For the love of all that’s holy fix Dr. Doom!

Dr. Doom is one of the greatest comic book villains of all time.

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In the comics he is a mad scientist, a master of magic and the black arts (his mother sold her soul to the devil), and the leader of his own country.


He is not, and never has been, a childhood friend to any member of the Fantastic Four who winds up being a whiny little pushover when it’s time to beat someone.

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Forget all the grand strange cosmic threats that the Four have faced over the years, just having someone as powerful as Dr. Doom threatening to take over the world and having a massive battle with armies of robots and black magic would be worth the price of admission alone.  Heck, you could probably make a better movie about the origins of Dr. Doom alone.


In fact, holy crap why haven’t they made a movie about Dr. Doom yet?!

3. There should be more to a Fantastic Four movie than just the Fantastic Four.

It’s no small secret that Fox and Sony are engaged in something of a bitter feud with Disney over the fate of many of Marvel’s superheroes that is something tantamount to a four year old shoving match on school playground.  While Disney owns most of the Marvel Universe and is working on re introducing Spider Man after Sony borrowed him for a while, Fox is still bitterly clinging on to the two franchises it still has control over: X-Men and the Fantastic Four.


This brings us to an uncomfortable fact about the Fantastic Four: their best and most memorable comic books usually involve appearances from other, better characters.  The simple truth is that the Fantastic Four haven’t been the kind of superhero team that can carry a comic on their own, what they are really good at is introducing and working with or against other characters.  Besides Dr. Doom here’s a sample of the other characters the Fantastic Four helped introduce.



The Black Panther and the Inhumans are two movies that are going to be released by Marvel in the not too distant future and they owe their existence to the Fantastic Four.  Then there are the cameos and team up issues which are just too numerous to list here but here are some of the most noteworthy:




Some of the team’s best stories were created with other characters which is a prospect that, between the long string of crummy movies and the current business climate, seems highly unlikely.  Maybe it’s time for Fox to throw in the towel and let the rights revert back to Marvel, or maybe they could have the Fantastic Four team up with Fox’s other property the X-Men (which could be cool) but either way it is important to remember that the oldest superhero team in comics usually works better with others.

What do you think?

Crowdfunded Comics that deserve more attention #3: Legacy Code

So last week I got my first request to help promote a Kickstarter campaign with this weekly blog series (by the way, if anyone reading this has a Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Patreon campaign up and running feel free to send it to my Twitter @mblair112 and I’ll take a look) and I was impressed with this title so I decided to give them some well deserved attention.  Welcome to Legacy Code.

Link to the Kickstarter:

What is it?

Legacy Code is a Kickstarter campaign to build a one shot comic, animated movie, computer game, and table top RPG.  The project is run by a company called Short Fuse Media, a relatively small comic book publisher that has this neat service where they can take a character of your creation and turn it into everything from a short comic to an action figure.


This Kickstarter campaign itself is Short Fuse’s shot at building a fully realized, self contained, massive multi media universe set in a sci fi dystopia which is like, according to their own words, “imagine ‘The Terminator’ mixed with ‘X-Men, ‘The Matrix’ and ‘All You Need Is Kill (Edge of Tomorrow)’ and you would have ‘Legacy Code'”.

Why I like it

You’ll notice a couple of things about the paragraph above.  First, there isn’t much in the way of plot.  The Kickstarter video simply describes the concept in very broad terms.

The second thing you’ll notice is that this project is really…really ambitious.  Trans media story telling, the idea that you can tell the same story across different mediums like television and books at the same time, is an idea that starting to catch on.  It’s something that I’m very interested in studying and with the advent of the internet and our deeply connected society it’s becoming more and more realistic every day.  Normally I’d be against putting something this broad and this ambitious up on Kickstarter but credit where credit is due they’ve put up quite a bit of material on their page already so I get the feeling that when they say they’re building a comic


an animated movie

a video game

and a tabletop RPG


they can pull it off.  Also, while describing a story or set of characters in broad strokes doesn’t help potential backer understand the world you’re trying to create, it is sometimes necessary when you’re trying to build something on this scale.

Another thing I like about the project is the sheer amount of talent attached to it.  One of the biggest risks in giving your hard earned money to a stranger is that the stranger will simply turn around, take your money, and leave you high and dry with nothing to show for it.  However, I don’t think that will happen here as almost everyone attached to this story has also led successful Kickstarter campaigns themselves.




These guys mean business and I get the feeling that whatever they create will not only epic and awesome, but be a fun and productive exercise in translating an idea into a world that doesn’t just come alive in a comic but in a movie and game as well.

Why you should donate:

These kinds of projects are going to be the future.  Not long from now we’re going to see everyone trying to turn their stories and characters into ideas that won’t just be comfortable in one particular medium, but will reach out and grab our attention in all sorts of new and interesting ways.  So if you want to be on the cutting edge of entertainment and make sure the future is run by dedicated and creative companies with good ideas and wonderful storytellers, donate today.

Campaign link:

The Primordial Soup: Art and Technology

Before the article can start I want you to watch this video.

If you can’t play the video or don’t want to watch it let me summarize it.  The video is a series of clips from a documentary called It Might Get Loud.  The entire movie is The Edge from U2, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Jack White from the White Stripes talking about their music and their inspirations.  It is an amazing film and I highly recommend it.  The clip shown above is a set of clips with Jack White calling technology “the destroyer of emotion and truth.  Technology doesn’t do anything for creativity…that’s the disease you have to fight in any creative field, ease of use”.

Speaking purely as an artist myself I am inclined to agree with Jack on this one, in an attempt to make things easier you wind up losing something important, whether it’s some sort of tiny little imperfection that makes your creation special or nugget of truth that you just gloss over because it was easier not to.  For a perfect example of this look at something like the overuse of CGI in movies, mostly during the  1990’s where bad CGI and special effects were everywhere and the ability to fill seats in theaters with nothing more than that led to some really crappy movies.



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The thing is that while technology can be used a crutch for poor creative thought and has an annoying habit of turning a lot of creators lazy it is still useful.  Technology should be used as a companion to the creative thought process rather than its replacement and in my opinion there are three ways technology can do this.

Technology for storage and restoration 

Examples: The National Film Preservation Foundation, the Gutenberg Project, countless picture and art restoration efforts.

This is probably the most straightforward and distinct application of technology to creative works.  The fact of the matter is that things like books, famous works of art, and especially early film can be lost very easily.  By using modern appliances like computers, scanners, and digital storage works that would have previously lost to the ages can be cataloged, stored, and brought out for the enjoyment of future generations.

Technology for collaboration and publicity

Examples: Facebook, Dropbox, Itunes, the entire Internet.

The most useful and welcomed application of technology in the modern age. With a few simple clicks anyone from anywhere with access to a computer and a stable connection can connect with and collaborate with anyone else from around the world to create something.  Once that has been done it’s just a simple matter of sharing their work with their friends or anywhere large numbers of people congregate online.  Now anyone has the potential to be seen by millions of people when before it took giant companies with a long reach and deep pockets to get that kind of exposure.  Let me be clear, the technology on display here did nothing to create a work of art, it simply helps the work reach a bigger audience.

Technology for creative augmentation and discovery

Examples: Photoshop, Motion capture, CGI

Yes, I am fully aware that I just spend the majority of this article talking about how CGI ruined movies and how technology destroys creativity but hear me out.  Technology is destructive when used as a crutch but when it is used to augment and support an artist great things can happen.  Thinking “oh I can just use CGI to add a monster into my film and then it’ll be entertaining enough that I won’t have to do anything else” is bad but you still have design the monster, you still have to come up with rules for it and how it works within the story you’re telling, and you still have to make the monster have meaning.  You think that the fact that CGI was used to make these guys.


and this guy

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made their movies worse?  Nope, by using CGI and computers to augment and support the creative vision of each of these films both films were able to realize their artistic vision much better then if they hadn’t used the tools available.

So the moral of this article is simple: technology isn’t necessarily a damper on creative thought and artistic production, the artist just has to be careful not to become too reliant on it and expect technology to do his/her job for them.