After “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen” had unparalleled critical acclaim and universal adoration from fans with their more mature, darker context, comic book companies stumbled over themselves giving their characters a “grim and gritty” makeover.
Characters like the X-Men, Batman and Daredevil instantly were written with a far more serious slant and even the normally fun Spider-Man had to get darker – in his case literally with the switch to a nearly all black costume. The phrase “grim and gritty” became a bit of a joke as every writer wanted in on the action even with characters where it wasn’t a good fit.
Speaking at WonderCon, Simon Kinberg, screenwriter and producer of the new “Fantastic Four” film can expect a tone that seems equally as ill-advised for the first family of Marvel Comics.
“As Singer created with the original ‘X-Men’ movies, Christopher Nolan created with the ‘Dark Knight’ movies, Jon Favreau and Marvel created with the ‘Iron Man’ movies, all the best superhero franchises – Sam Raimi did it with with ‘Spider-Man’ – they create a tone and that is the thing that defines them,” Kinberg told HitFix.
“It’s not the stories that differentiate them from each other,” he said. “Sometimes the characterizations aren’t that distinct. It’s that the tone is different and in some ways [that’s because of the] lessons learned from the original ‘Fantastic Four’ movies, but also because of Josh Trank’s natural instinct for more realism, for more of a dramatic approach to things. This will definitely be a more realistic, a more gritty, grounded telling of the ‘Fantastic Four.'”
That sounds terrible frankly. The FF are unique because the tone Stan Lee and Jack Kirby established was a family unit who bickered among each other nearly as much as the strange villains they encountered. While the FF have some serious elements — Ben Grimm’s quest to regain his humanity top among them — the group is a terrible fit for a “gritty” characterization.
The Avengers films, the new standard for comic book movies, steer away from “gritty” takes on characters and opt for something far more radical – making the characters and stories fun. One of the reasons “The Man of Steel” didn’t thrill everyone was because it was a “grim and gritty” take on Superman. Just because it works for Batman doesn’t mean it will succeed with Superman. Ditto with the FF.
For all the complaints of the original two FF films, directed by Tim Story, the tone of the group was correct. They were a family and there’s some genuinely funny aspects of a family teaming up and going on adventures. Dr. Doom? The action? The acting? A completely different story. Completely.
This sounds like the wrong way to go with the film and greatly diminishes my excitement for this project. What do you think?