Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Fantastic Four Adoption Movie Review
Reed Richards and Ben Grimm have been working together since they were young children, attempting to create technology that would allow them to teleport material. They inadvertently reach another dimension, which draws the attention of Franklin Storm, a professor who has surrounded himself with young geniuses and nurtures them like a parent. Reed and Ben join with Victor, an estranged protégé of Storm, and Storm’s son Johnny, to explore the new world. However, something goes wrong and Victor is left behind, and the others are changed physically. A year later, they attempt to reenter the other dimension to get their old bodies back, and they run into Victor, who has survived. Victor comes back to our world, but he is bent on the destruction of our world.
The Adoption Connection
Franklin Storm treats his proteges like children. He refers to them as his family, and the film overtly acknowledges that he has adopted Sue, who had been born in Kosovo. Although the film barely mentions it, Sue and Franklin form a transracial family. Reed asks Sue, “Did he adopt you?” Sue replies that he did. Reed says, “I know what that’s like.” Sue asks, “You were adopted?” Reed says, “No, I just wish I was. We just don’t understand each other.” This exchange reminds me of Moonrise Kingdom, where an adopted character is told by a friend, “You’re lucky you were adopted.” He responds, essentially, “I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Franklin and his children and proteges are involved in the Baxter Institute. Other members of the Institute view it more as a business, and speak disparagingly of Franklin’s “little orphanage.”
As a father figure, Franklin is great. He encourages them to thrive, trusts them explicitly, forgives them when they rebel, shows deep concern for their well-being, and holds them accountable to their own potential. Franklin also creates a strong family culture – he makes his kids promise to take care of each other, and tells one of them that, even though he’s frustrating, “Johnny is your brother. Like it or not, he’s family, and family means we take care of each other.” – That speech kind of reminds me of how family is defined in Lilo and Stitch.
The characters wrestle with the changes that have happened to them – their lives are altered uncomfortably, but they have improved abilities. They wonder whether this is something to be overcome, or a change that has happened for a reason that they should use productively.
There is a traumatic scene where one of Franklin’s proteges is left behind in a perilous situation.
There are some scenes that could be jarring to some viewers.
One character feels displaced, as though he no longer belongs in the world or with his former family.
(Spoiler alert: One of Franklin’s sons kills him. There’s no deeper form of rejecting a parent. END SPOILER).
Spoiler alerts in this section:
Franklin is a good father, and a good adoptive father. He has created a family culture of support and care. He’s one of the better father figures I’ve seen in film over the last couple years. However, he’s killed by one of the kids he’s loved as his own, and basically disintegrates on screen, in front of his other kids. If it isn’t a traumatic scene for younger kids with parental loss issues, it’ll only be because it’s not particularly realistic. Fantastic Four introduces several relational conflicts, but doesn’t resolve many of them. This might be an entertaining film for some viewers between the ages of 13-17, but it’s probably too scary for some younger kids, and won’t entertain most adults.
In the X-Men film, other characters also wrestle with deciding whether their differences are blessings or curses.
Questions for Discussion
Sue tells Reed that everyone has patterns that makes them somewhat predictable. Do you agree?
What patterns do you notice in your parents? Your teachers? Your friends? Yourself?
The Chinese character for crisis combines two symbols – danger and opportunity. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, how do you decide whether it’s a danger to run from, or an opportunity to carefully explore?