In an uncharacteristic change of pace, this session I’ll be following up on Fantastic Four instead of randomly selecting a film from the Vault of Woe (it’s a real mess in there, so often it’s easier to grab at random then trudge in search of a specific item like ‘childhood memories’). F4 was a warm-up act as it isn’t exactly a steaming pile of rancid trash – more ‘lame duck on the lawn’ than ‘dead goose in the bed sheets’, which would actually be a more fitting title for this sequel that destroyed the franchise potential of Marvel’s First Family faster than you can say Spider-Man 3. So join me on a journey through time and space as we attempt to find out when exactly the Surfer ‘rise[s]’, as the title indicates yet never explains…
Part 1: Something Silver this Way Comes.
Our story begins on the ancient world of Phenos IV, a thriving world home to some of the most advanced technology, act, beauty and intellect in the galaxy. A blissful world of peace and prosperity oh God what’s happening?! Something just ate Phenos IV! Guess it’s up to Alderaan to provide peace, stability and culture now.
OH COME ON! A streak of light zooms from the collapsing planet and tours the stars on its way to earth – home of the disco. Whatever it is (maybe some kind of Platinum Boogie-boarder from the looks of it) its’ presence is causing major disruption to the ecosystem; Japan’s oceans freeze (thus keeping Godzilla trapped to the joy of the nation) and Egypt sees snow for the first time, causing many to draw to the perfectly rational conclusion that THE APOCALYPSE IS NEAR, as you do. More importantly than these countries no one has ever heard of, in America some cities go without power…oh no, ecosystems and weather fronts are being thrown into chaos around the globe, but Americans’ can’t watch American Idol – I feel so sad but could never empathise with their plight. Even worse, Sue Storm, aka Invisible Woman, aka Soon-to-be Mrs Reed Richards, is worried that her wedding might be postponed again due to the severe droughts and Japanese people starved of fish (the only thing they can digest with their inferior gullets) – their plane has been grounded so the Fantastic Four are waiting around in the airport terminal like a super powered quartet of Tom Hanks in a bad 2004 drama. Reed assures her NOTHING COULD POSSIBLE COME BETWEEN THEM AND THE WEDDING [again] so we know this really could be the apocalypse. The world famous group are forced to fly coach back to New York as news reports announce that neither global warming or Roland Emmerich are thought responsible for the current phenomenon.
In a brilliant move to clear all sponsorship product placement deals in a single move, Jonny interrupts Sue and Reed as they discuss the wedding preparations to show them their new corporate plastered suit designs – my hat off to the director for this ‘fuck you’ to corporate movie dumping. Mistaking Jonny (playboy extraordinaire and Tony Stark in the making) for someone who gives a shit, Reed chews his ear about his theory that the climate shifts and life-shattering blackouts are being caused by the same radiation as the cosmic storm that empowered them. Jonny would rather see strippers than understand his abilities, and forces Reed to humiliate himself in from of cringing audiences on the dance floor. On the other side of the globe in Latveria (I assume it’s the other side of the globe – I’d ask Stan Lee but once he starts talking there is no escape, and I’d quite like to finish what I started here) the powers cosmic of the Chrome Skateboarder awakens Dr Doom from his slumber – wasn’t he statue-ated, not rendered comatose after the previous battle? How would this help unfreeze his locked joints? I want to make a big deal of this to avoid seeing Reed bust a move on the dance floor at his bachelor party but it’s inevitable I guess. Sue catches him fully ‘extended’ in the presence of hot prostitutes after that black guy from The Mist comes to ask them for help identifying the anomaly wrecking havoc across the world – she pussy whips Reed something chronic. General ‘Token Black’ Hager shows them images of deep craters appearing randomly since things began the other day.
Hager: We want you to examine these craters. Sorry but we don’t know any geologists.
Reed: General I’m getting married on Saturday; I can’t do it.
Hager: Your science boner indicates otherwise.
Sue: Reed! I don’t care if every man, woman and child dies in the next 48 hours as a result of this. I WANT my wedding day!
Ben: Just so you know, we’re the caring heroes.
Sue: THEIR BLOOD WILL BE MY RED CARPET!!!
Realising his bride to be is PMSing with the self-controlled rage of a hungry bear who just can’t master the unicycle before the talent show that night, Reed decides ‘screw it’ and builds the scanning equipment for the general behind her back. He’s getting the knack for this whole husband thing. Doom is cut free from his metallic prison and clearly not a morning person as he kills the lowly peasant workman in gratitude. Evil European dictator health plans luckily have a good widows & orphans payment scheme so don’t feel too sad.
The weeding day arrives, descending the city into pre-nuptial madness. Stan Lee literally tries to crash the wedding (using his own name to sneak onto the list) – his attempts to crash every Marvel film before he dies yet another step closer to completion. Sue is having second thoughts, the presence of journalists and news-choppers everywhere taking the romance out of the occasion. She talks things over with her head brides maid Alicia (how deliciously ironic that the Invisible Woman’s best friend is blind) about her life always being a media circus.
Alicia: All that matters is this: do you love Reed?
Sue: More than anyone –more than Bruce Willis in Sin City.
Alicia: Even more than you last boyfriend, Victor, who wanted you only for trophy purposes and tried to kill you with a missile?
Sue: [Thinking hard]… Yeah…I think so, even if Reed would rather jerk off to a book on particle physics than me…again.
Reed isn’t helping the cause; still tinkering with the sensor without having dressed fully for the wedding. Ben drags him away as he finishes up and activates the sensor that’ll show any traces of the cosmic radiation before he’s practically thrown out the lab – sometimes it helps to have a 10 ton walking cliff-face in your entourage.
As Alicia smartens up Bens’ tux, Jonny brings up something readers of comics have wondered ever since they hit puberty; does the Thing have a sex life? Mallrats asked Stan ‘da Man himself back in the 90s but he was coy to answer, and over the last 15 years Ben has been in and out of serious relationships. Now some were with superwomen and she-Things, so that’s all fine and dandy, but Alicia is stick thin, petit and doubtfully in ownership of an indestructible vagina. Ben would DESTROY her, and yet all signs indicate they are in a very fulfilling relationship. There is literally nothing he could do that could crush, maim, impale or drown her [in cement] – I’ll let you dwell on that for a moment……………. Yes it’s a very disturbing picture, it’s probably best if you hadn’t thought about it. Fortunately for you we cut away to Doom, his face like rancid pork steaks stapled to Megatron:
This is even more off-putting than thinking about sex with the Thing. OH GOD NOW THEY’RE IN THEIR TOGETHER!!!! He’s following the cosmic radiation trail from Reeds’ satellite as it heads to New York, no doubt to fuck up the Big Day (hey, it’s not a spoiler; it’s logical that this film might include a wedding fiasco only 25 minutes in to draw out drama). Reed gets a warning beep from his cosmic tracer, more concerned that an INTERSTELLAR CLIMATE WEATHER CHANGING MISSILE is heading toward them than the woman he’s know all his life walking very slowly towards him in an overly expensive white dress (my cynicism prevents me being invited to wedding nowadays). Frankly, wife-to-be and cosmic projectiles would be lower on my list of worries, #1 being ‘why is Brian Posehn from Just Shoot Me our wedding minister?’ The Silver Surfer arrives to congratulate the happy couple before they can say ‘I do’ and smashes the tracking sensor, inadvertently causing shit to go bananas and helicopters to rain down on the ceremony – panic breaks out (it’s the thought that counts you prudes! No one else got them a shower of news report choppers). Jonny flames on – as in he combusts, not outs himself as a flamboyant homosexual -, going in chase of the Stan Lee-level party crasher. Turns out the anomaly is a humanoid on a space board who can phase through matter and other funky magubbins. He also has a low tolerance level for taking shit, grabbing Jonny by his throat, dragging him into the stratosphere and hurtling him back to earth. Bad ass! Jonny survives the 1000 mile fall (you really want to know how this is possible in a film where the antagonist is a surfboarder?) as the Surfer reports to his boss that, having done all the sight-seeing he wanted while scouting, earth is now on the menu. DUM DUM DUM!
Part 2: Remember: You Can’t Spell ‘Poor Military Intelligence’ Without ‘Intelligence’
Jonny reports first contact with an alien species that weren’t Norse Gods of old before the general’s staff and the F4. Ben mocks the idea of a man made of silver and flying a surfboard as laughable. Ben mocks this. BEN! Reed deduces that the Surfer can convert matter and energy.
Hager: So you’re saying the thing emitting cosmic energies that we wanted you to track for causing the anomalies, was in fact causing the anomalies?
Reed: Yes General; the thing you asked me to did, does in fact do.
Hager: Excellent. Military intelligence wins again.
This isn’t even an exaggeration – it really is this dumb. Moving on, the entity spews out weird manipulative energy as he exerts himself, thus explaining the blah blah blah. Jonny feels strange as a result of earlier exposure and the meeting dismisses, leaving Reed to flummox an apology to the fiancé whose wedding he just ruined on a literally cosmic scale. Sue isn’t so much worried that an alien turned up and threw helicopters at the guests (such an understanding woman), more that their life together will always be like this. Oh no, your life will always be filled with wonder, excitement, wealth, a job you love, adoring fans and being earth’s ambassadors for alien visitors. I feel so so sorry for you and your life or celebrity hardship.
Jonny is feeling the hardships of life to (see Susan, the universe isn’t conspiring against you personally) and decides to go for a fly when his powers cut out. Sue runs to him, whereupon they transfer powers as she touches him; Sue becomes Firestar and floats uncontrollably into the air. It’s played for laughs but imagine you yourself suddenly burst into flames and float helplessly into the sky – her comedic shrieks of panic now seem like blood-chilling screams of pure terror in context don’t they. Fuck Marvel Zombies, this is where the real dark shit began. Digressing; Jonny attempt to fly after her but turns invisible instead, including his uniform which I thought was mutated to each individuals specific power set, buuuuut as this isn’t the ‘Road to the Avengers’, I’ll let this continuity blip slide. Ah, or I would have, but Jonny touches Sue (Fan Fiction story pending) and they reassume their powers – only Sue’s clothes have burnt off. So either they thought ‘fuck it, I can’t be assed to animate a headless blue suit for three shots of Invisible John’ or more likely they just wanted another chance to get Jessica Alba naked – it is a kids film after all. Time for Reed to have another science-gasm as he discovers Jonny’s contact with the Surfer made his molecules unstable, allowing him to switch powers with anyone that touches him. Naturally Ben wants a turn; he returns to human form, which he isn’t as keg-crappingly happy about as other former rock monsters would be when ‘passing a kidney stone’ is no longer a euphemism for taking as piss. Jonny isn’t so lucky…:
He switches back with Ben, who is fairly okay with turning back into an abomination again. Jonny is told to keep his distance and overhears Reed and Sue discussing disbanding the team in order to live ordinary lives as teachers, like every other drop-out failure who went into the profession. In the arctic Doom tracks down the Surfer and invites him to team up. Surfer isn’t interested so Doom zaps him, pissing off his shinny-ness who blasts Doom through a mountain. It isn’t all bad though as in doing so he removed Doom’s powers and restoring his degrading body to its former glory (just because the planet is days from being eaten, doesn’t mean the Surfer isn’t capable of compassion), giving him no more reason to be evil I guess and closing the book on Doc Doom – oh wait no, because he’s still a massive dick weevil.
Jonny tells Ben the team is about to be disbanded.
Ben: What about us?! What, we’re meant to go it alone without them?
Jonny: Right, who’d want the Fantastic 4 with the two dead-weight non-charismatic members gone?
Ben: Yeah, who’d want to watch a film about us two getting into all kinds of hilarious shinanigans without any marital drama going on as the main sub-plot?
Alicia: I would because I’m that relentlessly optimistic 😀
Ben/Jonny: SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH THE CONSTANT POSITIVITY!!!
Reed drags them into his astrology dome where he has been tracking the Surfers’ radioactive trail across the galaxy, revealing that his path corresponds with planet chartings that are now suspiciously lacking in planets. The craters he’s digging through to the earth’s core are placed in strategic positions, the next one set in the most tourist-cliché sectors of the world; London’s Houses of Lies and Parliament (why not whack a scene of him shovelling a hole next to the Eiffel Tower and complete the culturally ignorant, American-friendly tour?). They try to take on the Surfer but Jonny and Ben aren’t exactly in a teamwork mood, and they get owned publicly whilst only just avoiding a PR disaster by saving a ferris wheel from toppling after Jonny flies into Reed and messes up the plan. General Hagar has had enough of the foursome’s drama and decides to fight fire with fire (as all military personnel are prone to) by adding fuel, wood, kindling and napalm to the dysfunctional flames: enter new team member and advisor Victor Von Doom. What a delicious dilemma. He has intel on the Surfer and a chip on his shoulder, so he’s in good company with the general.
Reed: General, this man tried killed members of his financial board, tortured me, fired an RPG into a civilian building, tried to kill us, and electrocuted half of New York.
Hagar: However, he is far more charismatic that you Richards. Plus, I hate you. So very, very much.
Victor: And I have secret ulterior motives.
Hagar, Ah, most excellent 😀
Video footage from Victors’ encounter show the Surfer derives his power from his board. They take the board and problem solved.
Facing potential death Jonny and Ben go drinking and discuss the finality of their lives. Ben is torn between wanting to go out fighting and spending his final days with Alicia, failing to see the happy mid-ground of using her as a human shield. Reed tracks the Surfer to his next location – there are only so many tourist spots left now, so they go with the Black Forest. Lucky for them the Surfer’s worldly knowledge is limited to that of the average movie-goer and they beat him to it (technically only after he destroys the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Bedrocks’ bowling alley, and any other stereotypical landmark that isn’t in America apparently). They set up the trap and wait. Fed up with taking the general’s shit, Reed give the BIGGEST power to the little guy speech in history, that is worth watching the film for alone if you too were the school nerd and gym failure. Ben takes on a bear and wins – the only bear that could stop him would be this guy:
Sue shares a tender moment with the herald of holocaust 2007 as he saved her from a missile strike launched AT HER when things appear to do arse over tit. This is what the military command believe is worth launching enough firepower to destabilise a small African province: Sue and Reed talk with the Surfer, TALK, and learn that he is not the destroyer – him not destroying them and engaging with their questions with a pained, saddened voice a clear give away he is not acting of his own will. “He’s not the destroyer nor destroying…oh my God he’s using diplomacy – OPEN FIRE!” Using a pulse thing they knock the Surfer from his board and the true form of the shiny silver space man is revealed to be a not-shiny silver space man…anti climax, and here I was expecting another Return of the Jedi moment of black voice – white skin whatthefuckery. Powerless, his pathetic helpless twitching stirs up her caring emotions (the things girls have instead of semen). Surfer is taken in to military custody.
The Surfer is to be interrogated for information, because thus far brute force has worked much better than diplomacy at getting him to talk. The Fantastic Four are being held in a room under guard for fear that they might once again prove this train of thought is bollocks, while Victor, the murderous megalomaniac is allowed to wander freely and ask inane questions such as “where is the board, source of tremendous power to he who wields it, being kept?” Something the Surfer mentioned earlier is bugging Reed and Sue, so she sneaks out in order to discuss what he meant by “You’re planet is about to be fucked, but I am not the dick behind it”. The torture squad take a break so Victor can discuss things with the general, allowing Sue her opening; Surfer, real name Norrin Radd (*smirk*), is a slave to the vast entity Galactus that must devour inhabited worlds to survive who is on his way to earth (duh). He shows her this by using his stomach as a television, like something out of a David Cronenberg horror, but child-friendly.
So is this something all his species can do, seeing as the boards powers are no longer at his disposal? Surfer hates his job (preaching to the choir man) but must serve in order to protect his world and wife. His Board is acting as a beacon to drawing the gluttonous titan closer.
Victor is granted permission to study the board, which is akin to Hitler being allowed to hold public speeches during an economic depression: it can only end in bad. Once inside the vault Victor kills Hagar and his men with his electric…powers wait a minute, didn’t the Surfer take those away earlier, or did he just restore Victor’s non-leprous face to glory because he’s a nice guy? Doom attacked the Surfer and all he did in retaliation was to make him handsome!? THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT!? Let’s hope in his final seconds Hagar realised that using an imprisoned lunatic with violent tendencies of power-madness is always less favourable than using, say, a meek hero type. Doom puts on his trademark mask and cowl, despite originally using it to hide his facial condition, and takes the board unto himself. Pffft, I’m not worried; the board was designed for Norrin Radd – there’s not a chance some stranger could wield it for evil purposes.
Part 3: Skrulls, Doom-Boarders, No-Show Atlantians and Jacob the Smoke Monster
Reed realises what’s happened and pusting out Norrin calls in the big gun: the Fantasticar, which I think is pronounced ‘Fantastic-ar’ (like a pirate) to give chase to Doom-boarder who in no way looks ridiculous. Doom is adept at using the Power Cosmic and gives the Fantastic 4 a run for their money all the way to China despite the warning that if he doesn’t fuck off elsewhere the board will still bring about Galactus and the death of the planet.
Reed: You fool; if you don’t leave, or at the very least try not be a complete douche for just one hour then the earth is forfeit.
Victor: Lalalalala not listening, jerk.
Despite having abilities that would make God and Buddha change religion to worship him, Doom still refers to the Fantastic 4 as “jerks”. Doom brings down the Fantastic-arrrr and tried to kill Norrin, who is standing around looking shell shocked instead of wondering what the long silver spear hurtling towards him is. Sue, forgetting that the surfboard can pass through her force-fields, or maybe that natural selection is designed to kill off the stupid for breeding purposes, leaps to Norrins’ aide and injures herself from a slight fall, brought on by a minor case of space-javelin to the heart. No time to mourn ‘fellas because Galactus has arrived. And what’s more he’s a colossal space tornado, an idea later to be swiped by DC for the purposes of making Parallax shit enough for Green Lantern. I find this far less realistic that his portrayal in the comics:
I mean, a Dune-esque sandworm made of pissed-off smoke and fire – who’d want to see that over a giant purple dude with a tuning fork for a head?
Doom is linked to the board via some technical doo-hicky, so the only way to lure Galactus away is to destroy the device and lead his Hungriness elsewhere, because Reed is so confident that he’s the smartest man alive that he believes Galactus is stupid enough to fall for it even as he’s eating the planet. He forces Jonny to leech the powers from his dying wife in order to go all Super-Skrull on Dooms metal ass, busting the device and knocking him into the ocean, no doubt in preparation for an alliance with Prince Namor in the never-to-be third instalment of the franchise. Norrin re-bonds with the board, restoring Susan to ‘alive’ status before flying into the gaping maw of the Eater of Worlds and making him exploded, without even a “Sorry for bringing you all to the brink of annihilation.” With the Power Cosmic destroyed Jonny is cured of his PTI (Power Transmutation Infection). Doing all this has made Sue and Reed realise the world would have been doomed without them – you know, after they helped kill Galactus, oh wait no that was the sacrifice of Silver Surfer. Well, they stopped Doom at least…which they wouldn’t have had to do it they hadn’t created him in the first place. Sue and Reed are finally wed, while in the bowls of space the unconscious body of the Surfer awakes, no doubt ready for his stand-alone film that’ll never come.