Feb 1, 2021
Fantastic Four (2015), a recap (part 2 of 7)
Welcome back to our very first patron-only recap! The full article is available to those who pledge at least $1/month on the Agony Booth’s Patreon page. Patron-only recaps will be written by me in the same style as the movie recaps I wrote when I started this website way back when. My goal is to post a new recap installment every week, but there may be occasional delays through April due to my ongoing recaps of Star Trek: Discovery.
Previously: Reed Richards and Ben Grimm were young kids who, despite Reed’s best efforts, grew up to be teenagers. Reed finally got someone to take notice of his teleportation machine, which turned out to actually be a portal into another dimension, because this is the version of the Fantastic Four where nobody goes into space or gets bombarded with cosmic rays.
In Manhattan, Reed and Ben enter the skyscraper that houses the Baxter Institute. This is the movie’s version of the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four’s headquarters in the comics, but again, it being the headquarters of a scientific institute for gifted young people is consistent with how it’s shown in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe imprint.
Reed gets shown to his dorm room, and Ben stares out the window, looking forlorn. He tells Reed that it “looks like you’re home”. Reed assures him that he’ll always be back to visit good ol’ Oyster Bay, home of salvage yards and ill-tempered science teachers, but Ben seems resigned to the fact that he’s losing his quantum teleportation bro. Though, a hunch tells me we might be seeing Ben again.
Reed wanders through the hallways and looks at a glass case containing trophies and newspaper clippings about the institute’s many achievements, and judging by this case, the school is involved in a mindbogglingly all-encompassing set of disciplines. Apparently, the Baxter Institute has made news and/or won awards in genetic engineering, nuclear physics, robotics, developing a “super microchip”, and proving the existence of dark matter.
Reed goes to the library, where he happens upon Sue studying at a table. She pulls out her earbuds when he asks what she’s listening to. She tells him it’s Portishead and Reed replies he’s never heard of “him”, because hah-hah, he’s so nerdy and out of touch that he doesn’t know Portishead is a group. But I’m guessing not too many teenagers in 2015 would be well-versed in early ‘90s trip-hop bands either; This sounds more like what Josh Trank thought was hip and cool when he was in high school.
Reed shows her his favorite book: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and he explains the plot to her in a moment that will become mildly important later in the movie. Sue starts to put her earbuds back in, so Reed, not taking a hint, wonders if music is her “thing”. She says she listens to music because she’s into “pattern recognition”, and “music is just a series of altered patterns.” Wow, only the most astute get admitted to the Baxter Institute. She says there’s patterns in “everything and everyone”, and she immediately senses that Reed’s pattern is that he wants to be famous, but how is that even a pattern? He insists she’s wrong, and he doesn’t want to be famous; he only wants to “make a difference”.
She leaves, giving a slight look in his general direction that indicates we just witnessed the stirrings of a romantic connection between Reed and Sue. In all sincerity, I never would have gotten that from this scene otherwise, because Miles Teller and Kate Mara have absolutely zero chemistry. These two are supposed to be playing Marvel’s First Couple, but if not for prior knowledge of the comics and previous Fantastic Four films, I’d have no idea they’re even supposed to be attracted to each other.
Cut to Dr. Franklin Storm meeting with the board of the Baxter Institute, led by Harvey Allen, played by Tim Blake Nelson. Originally, it was reported that Nelson was cast as Harvey Elder, better known in the comics as the Mole Man, but for no particular reason his last name has been changed here to Allen. So between this and the Leader, that’s two big Marvel villains Nelson never got to play.
He and the rest of the board are dismissive of all this teleportation nonsense. Harvey says in a total monotone that Dr. Storm needs to think about the bottom line, and stop wasting time on projects with no real-world applications. Because what possible practical use could there be in figuring out how to teleport matter into alternate dimensions?
Dr. Storm, also speaking in a total monotone, says that there are indeed real-world applications here, but the best he can come up with is that they could discover new sources of energy over there. And judging by his performance, he’s in dire need of some.