By Julie Catherine
Prior to the superhero-filled era we live in today, with comic book adaptations dominating the theatrical market and pop culture conversations, a slew of fun superhero films didn’t get the credit they deserve. Two of these underappreciated superhero films were Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. With the MCU’s multiverse of madness cracking open in a few months, now is a perfect time to revisit the Fantastic Four films of the early 2000s.
Fantastic Four was released in the summer of 2005 and was met with poor critical reception and lukewarm fan reception. The movie earned a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a critical consensus stating, “Marred by goofy attempts at wit, subpar acting, and bland storytelling, Fantastic Four is a mediocre attempt to bring Marvel’s oldest hero team to the big screen.” Goofy, subpar, bland, and mediocre? That’s harsh.
Tim Story’s 2005 film is better described as fun, lightweight, and unpretentious. This is not a superhero movie gunning for awards or critical reception, but, rather, an attempt to bring Marvel’s original superhero team to live-action with as much fun and faithfulness as possible. Ioan Grufford is a perfect Reed Richards as he plays the intelligence and awkwardness to perfection. Jessica Alba is a little stiff as Sue Storm, but is perfectly serviceable in the role. And Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis are terrific as Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm respectively. The movie plays out as an origins tale, adhering fairly close to the comics. Julian McMahon plays an over-the-top Victor Von Doom, who received plenty of criticism upon the film’s release, but isn’t nearly as bad as critics said. To top off a really fun movie, Hugh Jackman reprised his role as Wolverine in a scene in the film’s Extended Cut involving Reed Richards changing his face to resemble Wolverine.
Two years later, viewers were treated with Fantastic Four: Rise of the the Silver Surfer. This film suffered financially relative to the original, but is considered an improvement over the first film by some. The film holds an approval rating of 37% of Rotten Tomatoes, with a critical consensus stating: “While an improvement on its predecessor, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is nevertheless juvenile, simplistic picture that has little benefit beyond its special effects.” Once again, that’s harsh.
Running counter to popular opinion, it’s clearer upon repeat viewing that this sequel is inferior to its predecessor, but fun nonetheless. The sequel introduced comic book favorites like Silver Surfer and Galactus with mixed results. Despite this, the film is also a lot of fun. The script lends itself to plenty of banter between our fantastic four, with the head-butting of Evans’ Johnny and Chiklis’ Ben being a particular highlight.
Ahead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a film that is rumored to re-introduce a slew of characters from classic Marvel films, now is a good time to revisit Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.