A superhero movie that flops out in the theaters can still become one of someone else’s favorite movies for the rest of their life (for me, that movie is Batman Forever; it apparently stunk in the box office, but I loved it for years and still will occasionally revisit it). 20th Century Fox’s latest reiteration of Fantastic Four will probably end up as that movie for someone somewhere.
The all-star cast doesn’t disappoint at all, but it’s all these actors can do to muster up a captivating sequence or a humorous sketch. They seem to be held back by a story arc that ultimately serves as a ground-zero buffer zone for those few movie-goers who aren’t in the know (and as a thorn in the side for the rest of us who are).
Miles Teller (the Russian dragon from Whiplash) leads his fellow fantasticos with child-like determination, and the other step up to the plate wonderfully. Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Michael B. Jordan as well as Teller all provide for each other a fluidity that elevates and lowers equally around, giving each member a time to shine. Again, if only the script could have kept up.
The Christian Angle: Growing Up
As I mentioned before, I love that this film spent so much time with these characters before they were superheroes and even as they are still adapting to and struggling with their new superhuman skills. It holds the characters in a closely-knit community long enough for them to get use to each other – even fall away at one point – and then regroup for some pretty powerful things.
The final impression, then, is that these characters are still maturing despite their (slightly rudimentary) mastery of their new-found skills. Even though they have these awesome superpowers, they still have a lot of growing up to do.
It reminds of me of what Luke says about the young Jesus in his first letter to Theophilus. He makes the statement after retelling the story of Jesus being left behind at the temple:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52 ESV)
Another one of those divine mysteries, I guess; how could the God Incarnate – who just finished confounding the religious leaders of His time – need to “increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man”? Like the members of the Fantastic Four with their powers, it would seem like Jesus wouldn’t have need to work on anything else.
But I love that Luke includes this sentence in his letter because it makes us perceive our Savior as more endearing and more human. How grateful we are that the God who offered Himself to die in our place can still reach us in our immaturity and show us a better way.
Because we, too, always have the potential to grow and to mature in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man; what matters is what we do with that potential, and that’s a lesson for young and old alike.