July 11, 2016

How (Not) To Write A Story Like The Fantastic Four


I love Marvel films. I've seen almost all of them. Then came The Fantastic Four, the 2015 reboot. To say I was skeptic would be an understatement. I love the Fantastic Four movies made in 2005 and 2007 with Ioan Gruffund, Jessica Alba, Chris Evens, and Michael Chiklis. Those were good.

But I told myself I'd reserve judgement until I watched it, even after reading the film reviews, which weren't good. This movie is easily one of the worst I've ever seen. It was littered with problems. I decided to put together this post on how not to write a story like this one. Warning: Spoilers if you haven't watched the movie.

1) Don't make the reader not care about the characters

Even though I love the Fantastic Four, I didn't feel any connection to these characters. They didn't make me laugh or love them at all. They felt 2-D and fake. In the old Fantastic Four, I loved the characters. They felt alive.

Always give the reader a reason to root for the character. In this movie, they start with Reed and Grimm's childhood friendship. Cute, but nothing about it made me care. Even worse, the rest of the main characters aren't introduced until about half an hour into the movie.

All main characters should be introduced before a third of the way into the plot. Your characters need to have real feeling emotions and care about each other (see point four). And they need to make me care about them.

2) Do keep the pace moving

In the 2005 Fantastic Four, ten minutes into the film they were already in space. In this version, it was over halfway through the film. There was basically no tension or suspense leading up to the climax, if I can even call it that, and the conflict was non-existent. Plus, look at the picture at the top of the post. See the city in the background? It's not even part of the story.

First, they were trying to make a teleporter, then they're being experimented on when it's discovered they have powers, then Doom shows up and wants to destroy the earth. There is no main conflict running through the movie. At the end they decide to make a team called the Fantastic Four, but why I don't know because they can't stand each other.

You need to keep the plot moving forward towards the climax from the first chapter. It may not be apparent, but it needs to be there. The hero or heroes also need a goal that ignites the conflict.

3) Don't make a lame villain

This Doctor Doom was lamer than some villains in kids movies, and that's saying something. He had no motivation and no point in being part of the story other than the fact he's Dr. Doom. And when the villain's the only character I actually felt had a hint of personality, you've got problems.

Doom is asked to join the teleporter project because he had the original idea. He teleports to the other world with the others and gets left behind, presumed dead. Then later Doom shows back up, kills some people, and tries to destroy Earth. Why? No clue. He just did. And the only powers he had was throwing rocks at people. What sort of villain is that?

If you don't have a good villain, your whole story collapses. That's one of the reasons this film flopped. His plans may not always be clear at first, but he needs to be actively opposing the protagonist.

4) Do have good connections between the characters

Another reason I didn't like this film is because there was no connection between the characters. Reed and Sue had almost no romance. Johnny wasn't funny enough. Ben hated Reed. They took the iconic characters and wrecked them. Even when Johnny and Sue's father died, I didn't feel anything.

Characters need to connect to other characters. If they're supposed to be a team, they need to learn to act like one. In the old Fantastic Four, they were already called that about forty-five minutes in, while in this one, they don't even say the name until the end.

Have you see this movie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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