Story Pitch: Marvel's The Fantastic Four

Source (Fantastic!)
"They're back." In these four space western, hard science fiction movies, the "world's greatest heroes" finally get the cinematic treatment that does them justice. Forget being dark and gritty, and let's embrace weirdness and fun. We see these four heroes take part in astonishing, outrageous adventures in one of the most dangerous parts of the galaxy, and fight through obstacles that only they can live through. It has 60s-inspired prop designs, family-centric humor, a wide selection of villains who are not Doctor Doom, a unique set of alien races to meet, and bizarre intergalactic locations to explore, and above all else: heart. To distinguish it from an almost similar franchise, namely Guardians of the Galaxy, imagine the grand political scope of the Star Trek franchise, and the adventurous vibe of the Indiana Jones film series, with the realistic scientific thrills of both Arrival and Annihilation.

That was the short version of this pitch, and as always, if you are still interested, read-on! Welcome to Dateline Movies, and this is our pitch for a film series for Marvel's The Fantastic Four! And in case you are asking, no, we would not be featuring major non-Fantastic Four characters, such as Namor, the Sub-Mariner, the Inhumans, or Black Panther, and though the following are mentioned all throughout the post, Doctor Doom, and Galactus are not completely involved in any of these films, as I wanted to focus more on their weirder villains, and I wanted to preserve them for future stories, since they are more fitting for wider-scale stories.

Source (This should be the team's theme song in the films.)

Setting and placement in the MCU timeline

Back in the 1970s, college students Reed Richards and Victor von Doom worked together in creating an inter-dimensional gateway to an unknown location known as "The Negative Zone". Based on Doom's recovered schematics prior to being cast-out from his home nation of Latveria by the then corrupt monarchy, both Reed and Doom wanted to access this mythical world for different reasons. While Doom wanted to perfect the device in order for him to rescue his mother, who was sent there by the Latverian government on the grounds that she was a gypsy, Reed wanted to be recognized for his genius, and secure a potentially fruitful future within the ranks of the "Strategic Homeland, Intervention, Espionage, and Logistics Division" (SHIELD).

When the experiment failed, causing the permanent disfigurement of Doom's face, and about millions of dollars in collateral damage, Doom and Reed parted ways, seemingly never wanting to speak to each other again. Doom, many years later, managed to make an almost perfect version of the gateway, and managed to unleash a horde of monsters from the Negative Zone, leading the army to massacre the Latverian monarch, and becoming its ruler. Despite the violent actions done by Doom, many looked-up to him in favor. Doom would later frequently access the Negative Zone in his attempt to search for his mother, but he eventually encounters the alien criminal Annihilus instead.

Annihilus revealed that the Negative Zone is dying from heat death, and that the sun providing heat and light for the entire dimension would soon burst. Annihilus then pleaded Doom to help him fix the sun, in exchange for providing advanced technology for Latverians to use. Doom accepted the deal, but little did both know that both of them have ulterior motives. While Doom wanted to make a device that harnesses pure antimatter energy for him to gain enough power to rule the universe, Annihilus, becoming nihilistic, wanted Doom to make a device that can later-on be reprogrammed to become a bomb that will eradicate something that is coming closer to their reach.

Source (Leaping into action.)
Reed eventually graduated from college with the highest of honors, and he is placed under the guidance of SHIELD scientists Franklin and Veronica Storm. Working away from his un-supportive parents and younger sister, Reed reunites with three of his former college classmates: Susan Storm, a SHIELD physician and Reed's former academic rival; Susan's younger brother, former basketball star, and SHIELD rescue helicopter and fighter pilot Jonathan "Johnny" Storm; and Benjamin "Ben" Grimm, Reed's best-friend and SHIELD engineer. Reed and Susan would later-on fall in love, then marry after about four years of dating. Despite his newfound happiness, Reed still struggles with perfecting the Negative Zone gateway.


When word got out that there are monsters and other concepts straight from science-fiction works in Latveria, Reed personally visited Doom, in an attempt to seek his aid in making a decent portal generator. Doom declined, and when SHIELD overheard Doom telling Reed that he is planning to make use of his newfound knowledge for world domination, SHIELD launched an attack on Latveria, later on securing the entire country.


Initially disliking the idea of tinkering with Doom's machines without Doom's guidance, Reed gave-in to his morbid curiosity, and proceeds to test the portal on his own. Reed is then joined by Susan, Johnny, and Ben, as well as Franklin and Veronica Storm, plus numerous SHIELD agents, but Doom launched a counter-attack with his robotic "Servoguards". In the battle, Doom accidentally blasts the portal generator, creating a giant vortex in the sky that drags everything in Latveria, from the people, to the SHIELD agents, and the entire country itself, into the Negative Zone. 


Reed, Susan, Johnny, and Ben, due to having much of their protective gear destroyed in the battle, were bombarded by cosmic rays from the Negative Zone's toxic atmosphere, granting them unique abilities. Reed now has the ability to stretch beyond human limits, Susan can become invisible and create force fields, Johnny can engulf himself in flames without feeling any pain, and also fly and generate fire blasts, and Ben's skin is now permanently transformed into stone, while also becoming stronger than before. Doom, meanwhile, was presumed deceased in the encounter, with only his empty power armor discovered.


Five years later, Reed finds himself now the reluctant leader of what is supposedly left of their SHIELD crew, composing of people who managed to avoid being exposed to the cosmic rays with their protective gear, alongside Susan, Johnny, Ben, Franklin, and Veronica. They were all made into unwilling slaves by a Negative Zone warlord, who constantly forces them to mine resources for their dying shared community. Reed and the rest of the "Fantastic Four" work together to keep their group stable, while simultaneously working to find a way back home, rescue more stranded SHIELD agents all across the Negative Zone, and even restore peace to the place, which is being ravaged by wars from the various tribes occupying the Negative Zone.

Source (No need to be "negative", you guys.)
The Negative Zone is noted for its vast reach, and its numerous hazardous locations. In addition to being a pocket dimension, the Negative Zone is later revealed to be an intergalactic prison that prohibits anyone else from entering and exiting, and each inmate would have to rely on the closest tribe that they can find for protection. Some of the most notable locations include ...

"Subterranea", the area of the Negative Zone haunted by the least threatening inmates in the dimension, who have since been mutated into mindless creatures known as the "Moloids" by a mysterious force, and this is considered as the coldest area in the Negative Zone, and it composes mostly of mountain ranges, valleys, and plantations.

"Baluur", the area of the Negative Zone that serves as the primary market for all residents that composes a large asteroid belt, with sophisticated space stations attached to each of them, that spans across four planets, the domain of the Negative Zone warlord and weapons dealer Blastaar, and where the surviving SHIELD agents and the Fantastic Four temporarily reside in.

"Zenn-La", the area of the Negative Zone that was once inhabited by an advanced alien race, was a heavily populated, heavily structured planet that was never meant to be a part of the dimension, but due to environmental concerns, and also the dreaded Galactus' actions, it was placed out of orbit, and now abandoned, was since turned into a massive dumping ground.

"Molekulon", the area of the Negative Zone that has been declared as the most mysterious, as a devastating, gaseous storm cloud shields the Alderson Disk (a disk-shaped space station), aside from the changing environment, as well as its tropical-centric atmosphere, and is the home to the enigmatic alchemist known only as "Diablo", as well as his subjects.

"The Latverian Wasteland", the area of the Negative Zone primarily occupied by what is left of Latveria, after the country itself was pulled into the dimension, and is monitored by Victor von Doom's trusty aide Lucia von Bardas, who supplies the people with technology from Annihilus' people, and among all of the areas there, this is the most technologically advanced.

"Arthros", the area of the Negative Zone ruled by Annihilus, and it is the place that is closest to the dimension's sun, which gives-off the necessary high temperature, as well as desert environment, that enables Annihilus' kind's survival, and it is a planet purely made from technology, although it is not as advanced in terms of technology as The Latverian Wasteland.



Source (One big, happy family.)
Premise

"Marvel's The Fantastic Four" is told in a span of four different movies. Each installment focuses on the exploits of the titular team, and their numerous attempts to escape from the Negative Zone, and to fulfill their newly received duties as reluctant superheroes in a very unfamiliar, very dangerous setting. As the movies progress, the Fantastic Four would have to restore order to the Negative Zone after mustering much more of the other SHIELD agents lost there, while also racing against time in order to fix the Negative Zone's sun.

The chronological order of movies, each bearing a title almost on par with various adventure films, are as follows ...
  • "The Fantastic Four, and the March of the Moloids" - When monsters from Subterrenea are ransacking various supply caches, threatening his legitimate business in the process, Blastaar deploys Reed, Susan, and Johnny to the deepest parts of the Negative Zone, where they find a still-alive, though mutated Ben Grimm, and SHIELD scientist Harvey Elder. This movie's narrator and point-of-view is Ben Grimm / The Thing, and the main theme is "earth".
  • "The Fantastic Four, and the Last Emperor" - Now free from Blastaar's clutches, the Fantastic Four, with their newly assembled crew, attempt to set-up peace talks between the many warring tribes of the Negative Zone, but they encounter the deranged would-be world conqueror, the "Psycho-Man", and Susan Storm's childhood friend, Rhona Burchill. The movie's narrator and point-of-view is Susan Storm / Invisible Woman, and the main theme is "wind".
  • "The Fantastic Four, and the Alchemist's Curse" - With time running-out to save the Negative Zone from total annihilation, the Fantastic Four race to a forbidden corner of the dimension known as "Molekulon", where they must evade various traps to retrieve a new energy core, and they must deal with the presence of the evil alchemist "Diablo". The movie's narrator and point-of-view is Johnny Storm / Human Torch, and the main theme is "fire".
  • "The Fantastic Four, and the Fall of the Negative Zone" - Prior to his "death", Doom left a plan to restore the sun, but now it has failed, and the Fantastic Four must find another way to save the Negative Zone from destruction, while all must fear the prophetic threat that was only being kept away by the dimension's dying sun, aside from Annihilus. The movie's narrator and point-of-view is Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic, and the main theme is "water".
The four flicks would be tackling themes of insecurity, environmentalism, and the limitations of scientific applications. Specifically all aim to answer: "Is every single heroic deed the Fantastic Four does for the greater good, or for their own good?"

In addition, each film would follow a plot that revolves around their specified themes, with ... the March of the Moloids being set in an underworld, and there are many instances of mining, ... the Last Emperor being about space battles, and also about being metaphorically "gone like the wind", ... the Alchemy's Curse about gaining the one key element in restoring the sun, a replacement energy core, and ... the Fall of the Negative Zone references Reed himself "drowning" from his perceived failures, and his attempts to make use of a water-like substance to stabilize the dying sun.

Source 1Source 2Source 3Source 4 (Let's see if their next films can do better.)
Cast of major characters
  • Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic
  • A SHIELD scientist with degrees in physics, biology, mechanical, electrical, and aerospace engineering, and an IQ of 267, who lost most of his internal organs, with the exception of a "bacterial stack" that also serves as powerhouse to his body, giving him the ability to stretch every part of his body beyond human limitations. Struggling with his insecurities, he is the husband of Susan Storm, and the best friend of Ben Grimm.
  • Susan "Sue" Richards 'nee Storm / Invisible Woman
  • A SHIELD scientist with degrees in medicine, biochemistry, astronomy, and computer science, who can generate force fields and other projections, and can render anything she touches invisible by manipulating the light waves around her. Coping with her difficult relationship with her husband, while also maintaining a calm demeanor as the second-in-command of the team, she is the older sister of Johnny Storm, and the wife of Reed Richards.
  • Jonathan "Johnny" Storm / Human Torch
  • A SHIELD pilot, former basketball scholar, and college dropout, who can allow his fats to undergo nuclear fusion, giving him the ability to engulf himself in flames at will, without feeling any pain, due to him receiving genetically modified microscopic platelets, and as the combustion makes him lighter, he also gained the ability to fly. Striving to be more than his more childish self, Johnny is the younger brother of Susan Storm.
  • Benjamin "Ben" Grimm / The Thing
  • A SHIELD engineer, a former construction worker, and once a SHIELD field agent, whose body was radically transformed to have the makings of a rock, rendering him bulletproof and incredibly strong, with the transformation also transforming all of his internal organs into stone, giving him the ability to live through extreme environments. Desiring to have his "normal" self back, Ben is Reed's best-friend and longtime companion.
Source (If you thought these stories are weird, you should check-out their comicbooks.)
Cast of minor characters
  • Franklin and Mary Veronica Storm
  • Two SHIELD scientists who are the parents of both Susan and Johnny Storm, and both of whom contrasting heavily in personalities, with Franklin being more rationale and logical, and Veronica being the more philosophical and more eccentric.
  • H.E.R.B.I.E.
  • Reed Richards' cheery and innocent personal robotic assistant, formally named "Humanoid, Experimental Robot, B-Type, Integrated", Electronics and the first among Reed's successful inventions,  who serves as the group's portable computer.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5, Source 6, Source 7, Source 8
(Fantastic Foes for the Fantastic Four!)
The main antagonists per movie
  • Harvey Elder / Mole Man - (... and the March of the Moloids)
  • A SHIELD scientist with degrees in crypto-zoology, alien biology, botany, geology, and anthropology, and Ben Grimm's parental figure, who commands an army of "Moloids", and who wishes to transform everyone in the Negative Zone into said monsters with his devices to save them from their impending doom, at the cost of their individual freedom.
  • Blastaar - (... and the March of the Moloids)
  • A seemingly cold-hearted, though actually well-rounded ruler of the traders' world of Baluur, who allows the Fantastic Four and their friends to reside among them, on the condition that they assist the Baluurians in keeping them away from Annihilus' forces, the archenemies of their kind, in addition to helping them scavenge from ruined war machines.
  • Revka Scyros III / Psycho-Man - (... and the Last Emperor)
  • A mentally damaged alien ruler, who once resided in the planet Zenn-La, prior to its destruction, and the former warden of the Negative Zone, until he was forcefully incarcerated in his own planet, who can manipulate emotions through radio signals with a control device in an attempt to perform a mass genocide all throughout the Negative Zone.
  • Rhona Burchill / Mad Thinker  - (... and the Last Emperor)
  • A SHIELD scientist with degrees in robotics and computer science, who was childhood friends with Susan Storm, and a psychopath with an extra brain attached to her head, who wishes to be reunited with her only friend by hijacking Psycho-Man's radio frequency, controlling Psycho-Man in the process, manipulating everyone around them to murder each other.
  • Menendez Flores / Diablo - (... and the Alchemist's Curse)
  • A Master of the Mystic Arts from Spain, who was exiled from Earth by his former comrades-in-arms  back in the fifteenth century, and now resides in "Molekulon", where he invites and tests the most powerful creatures in the Negative Zone to best his greatest creation, and who refuses to give the new energy core, as he wants to be the one to save everyone.
  • Owen Reece / Molecule Man - (... and the Alchemist's Curse)
  • A lost and displaced explorer from Earth, who received molecular creation and manipulation powers after being caught in a failed attempt to recreate another version of the Negative Zone gateway, and is the childish personal aide of Diablo in maintaining the ever-shifting environments of "Molekulon", whom tests him constantly to be his "best" creation.
  • Annihilus - (... and the Fall of the Negative Zone)
  • A nigh-emotionless, insect-like default ruler of the Negative Zone, who wishes to build a device that enables him to destroy the looming threat approaching the Negative Zone, and who plans to rule completely by himself with his personal controlled army known as the "Annihilation Wave", which composes of mind-controlled subjects.
  • Lucia von Bardas - (... and the Fall of the Negative Zone)
  • A cyborg, serving as Victor von Doom's former bodyguard and political representative, who leads the Latverian refugees as a pirate community unofficially serving under Annihilus with her army of robotic "Servoguards", but in reality, she is actually serving an unseen Victor von Doom, who wants to use the sun-restoring machine as a power conduit.
Source (Predictability aside, this is actually a pretty heartbreaking page.)
Proposed Overall Conclusion, and Tie-In to Marvel's Thunderbolts

Considering that the Fantastic Four are notable for still residing on Earth, despite most of their adventures taking place in alternate realities, pocket dimensions, and obviously, outer space, I figured that the team should find a way to make it back to Earth somehow. 

By the end of the fourth film in the film series, though not necessarily the end for the team, the Fantastic Four realize that their replacement energy core is not strong enough to reignite the sun, Reed's alternate solution of making a cooling system was not feasible in a limited time, and Doom's devices are all accidentally destroyed in their battle against Annihilus. At this point, Franklin Storm is killed, and so is Blastaar. The team realize that the only thing that they can do now is to lead a mass evacuation through the "Crossroads of Infinity", a large, unstable vortex at the edge of the Negative Zone, and save as many inhabitants as they can.

With Annihilus' forces closing-in, Johnny Storm decides to stay behind. With the aid of a dying Molecule Man, who helps stabilize the energy waves, Johnny blasts his way through the hordes, and after incapacitating Annihilus armies, and Annihilus himself, Johnny flies to the dying sun, with only a few seconds until its implosion. Johnny, after saying goodbye to the team and the rest of the surviving SHIELD agents and Latverians, absorbs as much of the unstable energy as he can with his newly upgraded powers. Initially, Johnny is not able to contain all of the energy, as blasts of light quickly disperse and destroys a handful of planets and star systems in the Negative Zone. Eventually, a large orange light covers the entire Negative Zone, as the Fantastic Four and all other ships are scattered all throughout the cosmos upon entering the Crossroads of Infinity. A new sun is created in the process.


Source (Come on, we all knew he wasn't dead.)
The Fantastic Four later crash land back on Earth, specifically in New York City. They realize that though they have only aged by five years, they were gone for already more than fifty years. The Avengers quickly fly in to salvage the crashed ship, and tend to the injured passengers. Refusing to believe that Johnny is dead, and feeling guilty at not being able to be the one to save the Negative Zone, the remaining members of the Fantastic Four, and the newly rescued SHIELD agents and Negative Zone inhabitants, plus Harvey Elder and Rhona Burchill, who escape afterwards, adjust to their newer lives back on Earth, while also seeking a way to return to the Negative Zone in their newly re-established headquarters, the Baxter Building. In addition, Reed prepares for the biggest role that he has to take yet: being a father. Now reassured that he is not a failure, Reed proposes his plan to establish an intergalactic network in preparation for extraterrestrial threats, while also making a promise to himself to bring back what is left of Latveria to its full glory, in an attempt to finally get over his partial envy towards Doom.

Reed is proven to be right later on. Johnny is alive, and he is found alive, though in a coma in Paris, France. Strange energy signatures are detected all over Johnny's body, and as Reed, Susan, and Ben investigate and check-on him, they start having a bad feeling about all of this. 

Meanwhile, Victor von Doom, who actually survived his battle with the Fantastic Four before, now plans to launch a full-scale invasion on Earth, in an attempt to retrieve the HUman Torch, whom Doom thinks to be his key in taking all of Galactus' power. He retrieves Lucia von Bardas' broken down body, then watches as his Servoguards takes over the entire Negative Zone.

Source (I gotta get them involved here somehow.)
In the post-credits scene for the fourth movie, we see the Advanced Idea Mechanics' Scientist Supreme, real named Elizabeth "Betty" Ross, have lunch with Agent Everett K. Ross at a fast-food restaurant somewhere in New York City. As Everett K. Ross talks about Reed's plan to start an interplanetary network in order for Earth to have a much more stable connection with aliens on other corners of the universe, the Scientist Supreme laments that that may not even be enough for the many, currently unknown threats out there, and they ought to be prepared for anything. Everett then gives the Scientist Supreme classified documents on the criminals Helmut Zemo, Ava Starr, and Emil Blonsky. As Ross complains about how hard it was to secure clearances for their respective transfers, the Scientist Supreme assures that her "pet project" would be a success.

In case it is not yet obvious, it sets-up Marvel's Thunderbolts, another Marvel Comics property that I did a pitch on not so long ago. Do check that out, in case you are interested.

There you have it. A much more space-bound film series for the first superhero family with, hopefully, all of the essentials that could do the source material enough justice, even though I did take plenty of liberties with it. Speaking of Fantastic Four adaptations, does anybody remember that awful FANT4STIC? Yeah, neither do we. Thanks to my little sister though, we just realized that K-Pop artist Rap Monster made a song ... for that movie? Help yourself with the song, and stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Source (I'm surprised an artist even bothered making a song for this abomination.)

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