You know, they say this project is hush-hush, but you ask Alec Holland one question and you get a five-minute lecture about plant nuclei and world hunger. I guess nobody ever asked, or maybe there just wasn’t room for them to stand, on this crappy laboratory set.
It’s your basic “boy-meets-girl, boy-becomes-cryptid” story, really. A woman walks into a laboratory, and the chemistry experiment begins.
As we’ve discussed, the three steps to getting the audience to like a character is to make a friend, make a joke and make a plot point, and Dr. Alec Holland is about to do all three in record time. The appeal of Swamp Thing is half superhero-action and half romantic drama, so it’s only going to be effective if it can get us to believe in Cable and Alec as a couple, during the limited amount of time before he explodes.
So this meet-cute needs to be practically automatic, establishing that both parties are smart, funny and attractive, and getting them to challenge each other in sparky mini-clashes that are interesting to watch. The time-honored method is to get the characters to stick their hands in a murky water trough, looking for an imaginary animal.
And as General Zod sinks slowly in the west, we bid farewell to successful superhero movies for a while. If I’m going to cover the entire history of superhero movies, then that means taking the bad with the good, so I’m about to enter the string of disappointing comic book movies of the 80s, including Swamp Thing, Supergirl and Howard the Duck, which convinced everyone at the time that making movies based on comic books was a dumb idea.
Meanwhile, way over here on the other side of history, we live in a world where making as many movies based on comic books as possible is the only logical course for every single movie studio to pursue. You can tell that the nerds have won because a movie about a minor Spider-Man character comes out, and the entire pop culture discussion around the movie is about which Marvel movie “universe” it belongs in. This is not normal pop culture behavior.
In the first half of my Fantastic Four adventure on The Signal Watch Podcast, we discussed the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, and here in Part 2, we talk about the 2015 reboot, which is seriously just as bad as everybody said it was.
This objectively terrible movie shows the FF as nobody wanted to see them: deeply unhappy government assets, who are locked up in a secret underground bunker and despise each other.
But you can sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude as Ryan and I tear apart all of the decisions that director Josh Trank and the incompetent studio execs made, as they desperately tried to land this film. Body horror! A completely unnecessary CGI chimp! Finding a clearly dangerous and unstable form of energy in an unknown dimension, and sticking your hand in it! And the two words you must never say to anyone who has seen this movie: Pattern recognition!
People sometimes ask, if I’m writing about superhero movies in such painstaking detail, how am I ever going to get to the later movies?
Well, this is one way: going on other people’s podcasts to talk about them! This week, I’m the guest on a 2-part episode of The Signal Watch Podcast, comparing the 2005 Fantastic Four movie and the 2015 Fantastic Four movie.
In the first episode, we cover various important questions, like: How does something sneak up on you in space? How does being invisible help you push your way through a crowd? Is the internet perverted enough to help Ben Grimm get a date? and Why is Johnny Storm basically a Ninja Turtle?