Tonight, the guy sitting behind us in the cinema caught some Zs while we were watching The Fantastic Four. At the end, his friend nudged him awake and the napper asked, “What happened?”
Well, gee, I thought, where do I start? There were boring characters, a boring plot and a lame climax…oh, wait, he never made it that far? What a tragic loss.
Not wanting to be a total buzz-kill, though, I said to my girlfriend, “at least they killed the bad guy.”
As we lapped into silence, struggling to digest the giant popcorn salt-bomb that was now gestating in our guts, I wondered, “Was I thinking right? Do most comic book movies let the antagonist live?” I know I’m over 40 and in need of ginkgo, but I really had a sense that that was the case. Once home, I parked the car, took some ginkgo, chased it with a shot of vodka and asked Google.
Turns out of course, I’m right and wrong. The bad guys in The Hulk, Captain America, Thor and some others get to walk away, but just as often, they do not. So why did I think most of them do (besides being senile)? I poured another vodka and pondered this.
I think it’s because the antagonists are so often poorly developed. They are so forgettable that I have forgotten whether they lived or died in this movie or that. My memory, and level of ‘give-a-shit’, tends to degrade when I’m watching a movie like Man of Steel, where two seemingly immortal beings bang each other over the head with skyscrapers. I’m thinking, “Neither of them can die, so what’s the point?” Even a famous actor like Ben Kingsley couldn’t save the Mandarin from being a joke (even if it was on purpose). Then I see Loki escape, and the Winter Soldier and Nebula and blahblahblah..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Look, I wasn’t too happy when Luke Skywalker didn’t outright kill Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars (ep4), either. I was outraged, actually. Evil personified had been allowed to live! How could this be?! It did leave me mad, but it also left me hanging for the next chapter. But why was that really? Because Darth was a well developed, three dimensional character with a clearly defined outlook on the world and a compelling goal.
That’s what you should do with your antagonist. Something you shouldn’t do? Don’t wait until the middle of the film to introduce your antagonist like Fantastic Four did! It sucks the drama and stakes out of the entire story.
This is the first in a trilogy you say? Don’t care. I paid to see THIS movie.
MY GRADE: 4/10
Director: Josh Trank Writers: Simon Kingberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby