I sympathize with those in the entertainment industry who are tasked to transform comics or fantasy literature into the cinematic medium. Sculpting these art forms into something that appeals to the mainstream is hard enough, but finding that narrow middle ground that appeases the original, rabid fanbase as well has got to be close to impossible. In very rare cases, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the producers and director succeed with flying colors, but even then, there are always those voicing dissent.
I spent my preadolescence hoarding comic books new and used, and drooled over every glossy page of Wizard Magazine. Comic collecting/reading/sorting was a major component of my youth and is something I still look fondly back on. Still, as the saying goes, I grew out of it. No longer will I debate whether Thanos could beat Thor in a brawl ( Thor would win, unless Thanos was in possession of one or all the Infinity Gems). It makes me a little sad to say, but there are more important things to invest my time and energy into.
When well-known characters like Batman and Superman cleared the way for other comic books to make the leap to the big screen, I was all for it. It was pretty easy to detach myself from my fanboy youth and suppress the urges to yell out every time the movie bungled or completely altered a hard-set rule of the character’s pencil-and-ink universe. Sitting through all the Spiderman movies was easy enough (except for the third one — how do you screw up a character as splendid as Venom? Okay, sorry…) and while X-Men had a permanent seat at my all-time Top 5 table, the three films were handled pretty well (but more Colossus next time, please).
Then there is the new superhero movie franchise: the Fantastic Four. The main characters themselves are not actually my interest. In fact, I’ve always found the Fantastic Four series to be one of the most coma-inducing, dull-as-a-rock comics ever to be published. Mr. Fantastic? The Thing? Come on. What the series did accomplish, however, was creating my absolute favorite character in all the comic book galaxies: the Silver Surfer. A tortured young man (Norrin Radd, if you would like to know his original name, and I know you totally do) covered in a cosmic silver sheen, forced to seek out living planets for his master, Galactus, to consume, who in return for Surfer’s services, spared his servant’s own world. Yes, totally out there, borderline cheeseball, but awesome nonetheless.
Back to the movies. The first Fantastic Four was horrible, so you would only expect its sequel to be even worse. Well, it was, not surprisingly, but after hearing that the Silver Surfer would be appearing as a supporting character, I had to see it, for better or for worse. Amazingly, I kind of liked a few aspects of the Surfer in the film, but my massive mental database cultivated from my years of adoration for everything Silver Surfer began creaking to life the moment the first misrepresentation reared its ugly head, and it only picked up steam as the film went on.
My disgust and annoyance levels with TV shows or movies can easily be gauged by how often and how loudly I talk to the screen. In the latter half of the Fantastic Four movie, I was yelling across the room at my television.
“Surfer doesn’t drill giant holes in the ground as preparation for Galactus! The ship does that!”
“The board isn’t his source of power! It’s the sun!”
“Galactus isn’t a giant, bodiless cloud of matter!” (That actually may have been a good change, though. I fail to even come close to describing the original character. Just look here.)
“Silver Surfer can’t kill Galactus! He’s only the herald!”
This went on until the credits rolled. While part of me is happy the Surfer has picked up some street cred by appearing in a mainstream Hollywood film, it wounds me knowing they couldn’t stick to the story and portray him as more of the badass he truly is.
After rereading this, I think I’m going to retract my earlier statement about growing up and growing out of comics. All it takes to get that passionate, nerdy 12 year old to boil to the surface is seeing one of your favorite characters in the clumsy hands of someone who has no idea what he’s doing. Time to start my wiki of dissent.