Fantastic Four is a 2005 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics comic Fantastic Four. It was directed by Tim Story, and released by 20th Century Fox. This is the second live-action Fantastic Four movie to be filmed. The previous attempt, a B-movie produced by Roger Corman only for the purpose of retaining the film rights, was never intended for a theatrical release.
The film was released in the United States on July 8, 2005. It was the third superhero film of the year, after Elektra and Batman Begins.
Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), a genius but timid and bankrupt physicist, is convinced that evolution is triggered by clouds of cosmic energy in space, and has calculated that one of these clouds is soon going to pass near Earth. Together with his friend, the gruff yet gentle astronaut Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Reed convinces his equally brilliant but conceited Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmate Dr. Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), now CEO of Von Doom Industries, to allow him access to his privately-owned space station.
Von Doom agrees, in exchange for control over the experiment and a majority of the profits from whatever benefits it brings. He brings aboard his beautiful chief genetics researcher (and Reed’s ex-girlfriend from MIT) Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), and her hot-headed brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), his private astronaut, who specializes in fast cars, pretty girls, and extreme sports and was Ben’s subordinate at NASA but is his superior on the mission, much to Ben’s disgust. The quintet travels to space to observe the cosmic energy clouds, but Reed has miscalculated and the clouds materialize well ahead of schedule.
Victor refuses Reed’s plea to abort the mission, knowing he must produce results to justify his expenditure, no matter the human cost involved. Knowing Ben is space-walking to set up equipment, Reed, Susan and Johnny leave the shielded inner area of the station to rescue him, and Victor closes the shield behind them. While Victor is seemingly safe, the others are exposed to the cloud. Ben receives full exposure out in space, while the others receive a more limited dose within the station.
The astronauts make it home intact; however, before long they begin to mutate, developing strange powers. Reed is able to stretch like rubber; Susan can become invisible (by bending light around objects) and create force fields, especially when angered; Johnny can engulf himself in fire at up to supernova-like temperatures, and is able to fly; and Ben is transformed into “The Thing”, a large, rock-like creature with superhuman strength.
After Ben, brooding about his situation on the Brooklyn Bridge, accidentally causes a major traffic pile-up while attempting to stop a man from committing suicide, the four use their powers to prevent any loss of life and to rescue a fire truck and its crew from falling off the bridge. The media dubs the team the ‘Fantastic Four’; while Johnny eagerly embraces his powers and new life, Ben – the only one whose transformed appearance is permanent – suffers.
His disfigurement has caused his fiancee, Debbie (Laurie Holden), to abandon him and has seen him shunned and feared by much of New York. Blaming himself, Reed vows to return Ben to his human form. Therefore he, Susan and Ben work on a cure, constructing a healing chamber in Reed’s high tech Baxter Building loft-turned-laboratory. During this time, Reed and Susan begin to rekindle their attraction to one another. Susan admits that she is not interested in Victor, but had turned away from Reed because he feared to make a binding vow, thinking only in terms of variables.
His excessive caution was hard for even the reasonable Susan to deal with, and now it begins to test Ben’s patience, as he is eager to return to his human form while Reed is taking his time on the machine. Unknown to the others, however, Victor’s body is also mutating; he is turning into organic metal capable of absorbing and manipulating electrical energy. As a result of the disastrous expedition, his company is going bankrupt and he is losing public stature; blaming Reed for his misfortunes, Victor swears revenge.
After killing a bank chairman who had pulled out of the Von Doom Industries’ IPO, Victor sees the opportunity to finish off his rival once and for all. Manipulating Ben’s insecurity and anguish, Victor tricks Ben into thinking that his teammates are not working on a cure with due diligence; after a vicious argument between himself and Reed, Ben storms out of the Baxter Building. Reed experiments with the curative machine on himself and nearly dies in the process, but learns that the machine only needs more power to fully succeed. Victor, who has been spying on Reed, tricks Ben into entering the machine and provides the extra power.
Ben becomes normal again, while Victor’s own mutation increases exponentially, increasing his power but also physically disfiguring him. When Ben realizes that Victor merely wanted the super-strong Thing out of the way so that no one could stop him, Victor immobilizes Ben. Reed discovers them and Victor attacks him, taking him prisoner, tying his hands and feet, and sarcastically asks “What happens when you super-cool rubber?” while getting him frozen to prevent him using his powers of distention. When Susan and Johnny realize what has happened, Victor – now calling himself ‘Doom’ – fires a heat-seeker missile at the Baxter Building, intending it to target and kill Johnny.
Johnny uses his powers of heat and flight to lead the missile to open water, where he ignites a garbage scow to dispose of the missile. However, he is thrown into the water, and whether he remains alive is not shown. Meanwhile, Susan attempts to rescue Reed. She unties him and confronts Doom. She soon proves no match for the powerful Doom, and he is on the verge of killing her when Ben – having activated Reed’s machine and used it upon himself to restore his mutation – bursts into the room. Doom and Ben fight, until the battle spills onto the street below.
But no matter how hard Ben attacks him, he is unable to overpower Doom, and Doom knocks him flat on his back. He is about to deal the finishing strike, when a recovered Reed and Susan arrive to save Ben. Doom begins to scorn them, when he is blasted from behind with fire from none other than Johnny, who survived his encounter with the missile unharmed. Doom absorbs all the electricity in the area that he can to begin the final showdown. At first, it seems that Doom has the advantage, as the team struggles under his onslaught of electric blasts.
Reed manages to use his elastic body to temporarily restrain Doom, and then coordinates the team for an offensive attack, trusting his initial judgment for the first time. He starts by telling Johnny to unleash his supernova heat on Doom, despite the fact that even Johnny agreed this was dangerous. Johnny uses this to surround Doom in a vortex of fire, while Reed gets Susan to try to contain it (and its dangerous amount of heat) within a force field.
She manages to do so while Doom makes futile attempts to break free with his electric blasts. When Johnny and Susan give out, it looks as if Doom is just starting to melt, but he is still on his feet and merely sneers “Is that the best you can do? A little heat?”. Reed responds “Time for your lesson – Chem 101. What happens when you rapidly cool hot metal?” Ben then kicks the top off of a fire hydrant, and he and Reed direct the water shooting out of it at Doom. The steam created as the water hits Doom forms a thick cloud as he experiences thermal shock, and when it settles, Doom is seemingly left as a statue of inert metal.
Ben informs Reed that he has accepted his condition with the help of Alicia Masters, a blind artist for whom he has developed feelings, and the team decide to embrace their roles as superheroes and unite officially as the Fantastic Four. Reed proposes marriage to Susan, who accepts and they share a kiss. Doom’s remains are being transported back to his homeland of Latveria when the ship carrying them experiences unusual electronic interference.