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Things In Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer That Marvel Wants You To Forget About

The Fantastic Four, Marvel's first family of superheroes, is an important piece of the company's legacy. They are also the template that many heroic teams were built on in the industry, but no one could tell that from how they've been shown on film so far. The two movies released in the mid-2000s bore the name of the group their stories came from, but weren't part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; rather, they were 20th Century Fox's version of the family-friendly foursome. "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" was a sequel that attempted to up the stakes and bring in some of the biggest heavy-hitting elements from the comics, but it didn't quite meet expectations, due to the film juggling multiple characters and lackluster subplots, all squeezed into an hour and a half.

Now that the property is back in Marvel's hands, these are films that the company would simply prefer fans forgot about. They will be replaced by the newer, sleeker versions coming soon to the MCU's multiversal playground, and will be remembered about as much as the Roger Corman "Fantastic Four" movie is now. But as "Rise of the Silver Surfer" celebrates its 15th birthday, there are plenty of scenes, story beats, odd decisions, and more that we should revisit. Most viewers have repressed much of the film after all these years, but before Marvel makes us forget it completely, here are a few things worth noting.

A lack of good superhero action scenes

Usually, sequels like to up the ante, take what audiences loved about the previous iteration, and do more of it, only bigger. It would make sense then to elevate the action scenes, the use of crazy powers, and team-ups against the big bad guy in a superhero franchise, but that isn't quite what fans received with "Rise of the Silver Surfer." This isn't to say that there aren't some enjoyable scenes, like Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) chasing the Silver Surfer through the city, but the energetic moments seem less in number and a lot more spread out amongst the rest of the conflict and drama.

This movie wants to dive deeper into the heroes' personal lives, so we get a bachelor party, a wedding, the question of whether the team will break up, and some quirky power mix-up hijinks. A lot involves the heroes and their abilities, but not in the most entertaining ways. It also doesn't help that so many of these sequences are about events that keep getting interrupted and never finish, while not much happens in the grand scheme of things. Much of the adventure is about research, covert actions, and understanding the alien visitor, while there are few scenes of the group working together effectively to save lives and fight their foes. Even the climax is more focused on one member of the team taking on Doctor Doom with a little bit of help from a de-powered Benjamin Grimm (Michael Chiklis).

Aging CGI

Part of the appeal of most superhero films is seeing the heroes and their powers in action. This, along with taking many non-human characters from the page and making them look somewhat accurate — and in a few cases, even better — on the big screen is an art, something that should bring pleasure to the audience and create a few lasting memories. But that doesn't happen when it looks bad. For "Rise of the Silver Surfer," the declaration of the title meant that there was pressure to get his look just right, and combining that with the powers of the four main characters and the few other special effects they wanted to incorporate may have been asking too much.

Some of the visual effects looked solid at the time, especially when it came to the Silver Surfer himself, but even those are beginning to show their age and could benefit from updated techniques. There are a few CGI shots that don't quite work, mostly involving powers. Reed Richards' stretching is the biggest offender – especially when Sue flattens him — but the flames and glowing energy on multiple characters are distracting as well. The final confrontations that make up the climax of the film are also questionable, more so when pausing on specific parts. Most of the scenes look fine while in motion, but they don't hold up much past an initial glance.

Reed and Sue failed chemistry

For two genius-level scientists, our main characters have no understanding of chemistry, not on the screen at least. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is supposed to be a bit awkward, work-focused, and out of touch when it comes to understanding romance, while Sue Richards (Jessica Alba) is caring, calm, but daring and pointed when needed. However, both characters are shown here as if their worst traits have reached new levels. Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic should feel like individuals, yet bonded, with a warmth to them even when they disagree, but "Rise of the Silver Surfer" aims to show them at their worst for most of the film. The biggest crime is when a couple is simply dull.

Is it the actors? An easy answer, but that's likely a smaller part of it. A better explanation might be a combination of them and the script (who could work with that wedding scene?). Gruffudd makes for a completely fine Reed Richards, but struggles to stand out in a film where he's the main character. Reed has a few moments where he excels at playing the scientist or leader, but when it's time for any emotion past raising his voice, all of those characteristics simply seem absent. Jessica Alba is stunning in most of her scenes, but looks like she's simply going through the motions in the second half of the movie. She seems unapproachable, but not because her codename is the Invisible Woman.

The Fantastic Dancer

For someone who can stretch to incredible lengths, Reed Richards needs to loosen up more than most people in the Marvel universe. Maybe it is all that time being cooped up in the lab, or the stress of having to save the world multiple times, but he's one of the most uptight and reserved geniuses in comics. This is a man who is best known for getting his jollies by discovering new things to throw into the Negative Zone, so it's nice to see that this film lets Mr. Fantastic get out and cut a rug.

This moment from "Rise of the Silver Surfer" isn't quite as cringe-worthy as something like the infamous emo dance scene in "Spider-Man 3," but it is close. During his bachelor party, Reed is pulled onto the club floor to get down with several attractive ladies. At first, the egghead seems uncomfortable in the situation, but he starts to feel the groove and slip into the moves, even incorporating his stretching abilities and showing off for his admirers. This is, of course, when his fiancé, Sue, and General Hager walk in on him, creating a slightly embarrassing moment for the couple and riling the Invisible Woman up a bit. It's a ridiculous moment, played for laughs while causing some serious eye-rolling, and isn't quite fun enough to be memed or referenced years later like Spider-Man's dance was.

The film betrays Sue Storm

Sue Storm has had it rough over the years, being part of a male-dominated superhero world, put in ridiculous costumes, and having to deal romantically with the polar opposites of Reed and Namor the Sub-Mariner, but "Rise of the Silver Surfer" may have given her even less. Most of this film focuses on her looks and Sue being a bridezilla, which makes Sue more a casualty of the plot rather than someone participating in it.

She establishes a connection with the Silver Surfer, but it's completely based on the fact that Sue reminds the cosmic being of his lost love, Shalla-Bal. She's played more as Reed's muse than her own person, which is a shame, because the Invisible Woman is a scientist as well. She's barely a factor in the movie's climax, almost more of a sacrifice, used as motivation to stop Doctor Doom.

Combine that with some casual sexism in the story, such as her being more concerned with celebrity gossip shows than the looming threat, or losing her clothes again because she's the hot one, and it seems obvious that the character deserves better. This was something that actress Jessica Alba felt also, as she was told to look prettier while crying (via Vulture) by director Tim Story. It's an incident that apparently caused Alba to consider ending her acting career, and although not everyone appreciated her portrayal of the Invisible Woman, it's a shame she wasn't given another chance at the role under better circumstances.

The Silver Surfer

His name is in the title, and this film was supposed to be his rise to stardom. That didn't happen, however, and it could have in a better movie, but it seemed like the filmmakers didn't know what to do with the Silver Surfer. There was the issue of Doug Jones playing the character, with the voice being provided by Laurence Fishburne, who was rumored to play Galactus originally but then switched over to his new role after some changes. There's even an early trailer where Jones provides the voice for the Surfer, which some argue fits the character more.

A lot of work went into bringing the character to life on the big screen, and this creation wasn't all just CGI, but it didn't quite work for many of the fans. Other than the Sentinel of the Spaceways awkwardly showing a movie on his abs as a tiny origin story, the character also just felt underutilized. His final confrontation with Galactus should have been a big moment, except that Galactus was merely a cloud. The mid-credits scene was a hint to the Surfer getting his own spinoff, one that was going to be written by J. Michael Straczynski and tackle his story with more depth and a darker tone. However, the lackluster performance of the second "Fantastic Four" film failed to propel Norrin Radd anywhere useful.

Doctor Doom rides the surfboard

In another insult to both the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom, the filmmakers thought it would be a good idea for Victor von Doom to steal the cosmic being's power by taking his surfboard. The image looks silly in live-action, yes, but comic fans are accustomed to seeing things not translate well from the page. This plot point also creates an unremarkable fight in the film that feels like a rehash of the last adventure, and just wasn't what anyone was expecting. "Rise of the Silver Surfer" already had enough going on that it probably should have saved this villain for the sequel and focused on the titular star, especially since Doom seemingly has no other "plan" than the classic urge to gain more power.

After the events of the first film, we see that as the Silver Surfer combs over the Earth, his residual energy revives Doom, but the specifics of this are never explained. The writers simply double down on this and make the Herald of Galactus' attack somehow heal Doom's body, which also doesn't make much sense. One guess is that the actor, Julian McMahon, is known for being attractive and they wanted to get him out of that mask again, but there are rumors that makeup tests were done for a scarred version of the character that didn't go over well. The whole approach feels wrong, culminating with Doom fighting on his new board and spinning around like a top to create a cyclone.

Knock-off Super Skrull

To change the end fight somewhat from the last film, the creative team decided to avoid having the entire group take on Doctor Doom, instead giving all four power sets to one person, Johnny Storm. What isn't explained well in the movie is how his encounter with the Silver Surfer gives the Human Torch the ability to exchange powers with his teammates, seemingly for comedic purposes. This effect is even greater in the final act, as he takes all their powers and gets to keep his own, but there aren't any answers for how he pulls this off. With his new combined powers, Johnny uses everything the team has to trounce their foe, while becoming a cheap version of one of the Fantastic Four's greatest enemies.

The Super Skrull is a genetic mutate, usually a specific alien from their species (as seen in "Captain Marvel"), but there have been many who were experimented on with different power sets. The primary incarnation possesses the powers of each of the Fantastic Four, and in some cases is better at using them. Combine that with shapeshifting abilities as well as hypnosis, and the first family of Marvel has quite the challenge on their hands. This scene feels like an odd and cheap way to use that character, even as a fun reference, but with the franchise about to be rebooted, there is no way the MCU will let this one scene dictate the Super Skrulls' legacy.

The Fantasti-car

Another thing that was never going to translate perfectly from the comics is the Fantasti-car. It's a product of the '60s and makes sense for the team, with the ability to hold four people and split into individual vehicles, but it also comes off as a bit corny now. This is a contraption that has always looked weird in several ways, even in the comics, with the first model's nickname being "The Flying Bathtub." This invention by Reed Richards and Johnny Storm has seen some upgrades over the years and re-designs for various books and shows, but it has never been easy to get quite right, meaning that bringing the Fantasti-car to film was always going to be a challenge.

The prompt for it in "Rise of the Silver Surfer" is when the team is made to ride coach on an upcoming flight and Johnny suggests that they should get an endorsement from an airline or private jet. This comes to pass later in the film when the new device makes it halfway across the planet in record time to give them a lift into the final act of the movie. Most people remember it, however, for the glaring product placement from Dodge, but that just means Reed listened to the Human Torch for once. The Fantasti-car is a fun nod to the comics, but perhaps it's something better left out of the franchise until someone finds a proper way to incorporate it, ideally without a sponsorship.


The cloud-shaped elephant in the room when most people discuss "Rise of the Silver Surfer" is the appearance of Galactus. One of Marvel's most infamous cosmic foes demands a bit of respect, but he's also another creation that may not look quite right on the big screen without some adjustments. This epic villain isn't on screen for long, squeezed in at the end of the movie, and when he does show up it's as swirling storm clouds. There is a reference to this classic appearance for the Devourer of Worlds in one of the shadows, but it goes by quickly. The filmmakers were going for something closer to the Ultimate Universe's version of Galactus, but it simply left viewers deflated and unimpressed.

If the look of this cosmic deity wasn't enough to sour the moment, the interaction between Galactus and his herald would be. There isn't so much as a fight between the two, but rather a series of rough energy discharges with both surviving the encounter. Anti-climactic is definitely the word for what should have been a much bigger finish. Even the director of the movie, Tim Story, wanted to do more with the character, but it is rumored that some individuals behind the scenes weren't quite ready to show him on screen, so he appeared in a bland form. This led to a poor debut for the powerhouse conqueror, and now, even Story himself is anxious to see what Marvel proper can finally do with Galactus.

The unfinished trilogy

Though the films weren't failures at the box office, "Rise of the Silver Surfer" and its predecessor hadn't reached the goals the company wanted, which meant that their future was unclear. This next installment could have been their best yet and cemented the superhero group in the minds of moviegoers, but several factors led to the film not happening, even with Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, and director Tim Story all pushing for the sequel. A bit more time in the limelight for this incarnation of the team was never realized, as the studio grew cold feet and the superhero genre changed around them.

Both "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" were released in 2008, presenting a very different look at what comic book movies could be and causing the higher-ups to question whether their creation could ever achieve that level of success in its current form. Instead, a reboot seemed smarter. Fans would have expected the budget to go up and some of Story's desires for the third film were likely to cost them more money for licensing, if they worked out at all. Some big ideas had been thrown around for the third film including the arrival of the Inhumans, the Skrulls, Black Panther, Annihilus, and the Negative Zone, a lot of which wouldn't be cheap to realize on the big screen. There's no telling what could have been in store for Marvel's first family, but having one less film makes the duology easier to forget.