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Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch: Fantastic Four

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From left: Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) in the new <em>Fantastic Four</em>.
Twentieth Century Fox
From left: Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) in the new Fantastic Four.

Well, that is a thing that happened.

Fantastic Four came out last weekend, only to encounter less-than-stellar reviews and box office. Our own Chris Klimek saw it for NPR.org and summed up its squandered potential with his usual nerd-cred eloquence, so I sat down with him for Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss what went wrong and why.

On paper, this thing looks like it could have worked: Josh Trank is a promising young director determined to bring new elements — body horror! dingy lighting! — to the tale of Marvel's classic super-team. The cast is strong: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara's wig.

We touch on the Fantastic Four's comic-book origins and film history (which includes this unreleased 1994 bit of low-budget weirdness, which was produced by Roger Corman, and it shows). We talk a bit about the Fox/Marvel divide and this new film's troubled production. Also, I pontificate about the need for superheroes to work on a metaphorical level, as is my damnable wont.

Incidentally, this is the shortest Small Batch episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour to date, both because abject disappointment is not as fun to discuss as you might think, and because we had to record this one under a time crunch. You monsters who listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed: You might not need to this time. I usually talk fast — this time, I'm basically the Micro Machines guy.

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