The Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four movie from 1994 was, for a long while, one of those mystery tapes that people would scour comic book conventions for to see if they actually existed — like the Star Wars Holiday Special or the pilot of the U.S. Red Dwarf remake. It was a film with a lot of genuine talent and very little budget that never meant to get a release.
At the time, producer Bernd Eichinger (who would go on to be a producer on the big-budget 2005 Fantastic Four film) owned the rights, but couldn’t get a studio to finance the project. With the expiration deadline for the right fast approaching, Eichinger did what any sensible producer would do: He called Roger Corman. The legendary Corman, who had a reputation for making movies fast and on budget, put together a cast and crew and made a Fantastic Four film before it was too late.
Despite never being meant to be viewed by human eyes, the original Fantastic Four movie can be found all over the Internet. And, you know what? It’s not really that bad. The acting is pretty crummy, the effects are clearly dated (even for the ’90s) and The Thing… oh, The Thing. But, the story is pretty faithful to the comics and, well, it’s fun. But definitely cheesy.
The birth of the Fantastic Four
If Corman’s Fantastic Four has anything going for it, it’s that it takes plenty of time to establish our heroes (and villain) before they become superheroes. However, once the film is ready to show us how that happens, well… the film had a $1 million budget. So there’s that.
Whoever the hell these two are…
Let’s jump back a little earlier in the movie, just as Ben Grimm (pre-The Thing) is meeting Alicia Masters for the first time. As we move along, we meet… these guys? The guy barking orders is The Jeweler, who ends up playing an important part in the actual plot. Which probably says a lot about the rest of the movie.
“No! He’s with my crew!”
When it came to demonstrating the powers of the individual members of the team, Corman and the rest of the crew did the best they could with what they had. Honestly, though, as intense and well-acted (no, I’m serious) the reveal of The Thing was, it was pretty much negated when The Thing actually stepped on screen. Again, we’re talking a $1 million budget but, even in 1990s dollars… holy crap.
“You may call me… Doctor Doom!”
Doom appeared earlier in the movie, cloaked in shadow, attempting to gain his revenge on Reed Richards until he was ready to reveal himself. Like the comic, Doom and Reed were colleagues — friends, even — when an accident left Doom scarred and disfigured. So, of course, Doom would want to make a grand entrance when it came time to reveal that it was he, VICTOR VON DOOM!! who was behind the team’s downfall.
Except, they did it like this.
The wedding of Sue Storm and Reed Richards is a milestone in Marvel Comics lore. It’s right up there with the death of Gwen Stacy, the formation of the Avengers, and the appearance of Galactus. It really was a “royal wedding” for the Marvel Comics universe (and almost nearly as romantic as the wedding of Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth at SummerSlam ’91). So, it clearly had to be included in this film. How could they not? They’ve been building up to it since the start of the film.
Cheesy? Yes, but it was also kind of cute.