In the opening scenes of Fantastic Four
, 10-year-old Reed Richards (Owen Judge) and his best friend Ben Grimm (Evan Hannemann) pool their resources to build a bio-matter transport machine. Several years later in high school, Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) perfect their machine. They can now transport small toys to unknown locations and back again. When Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) from the Baxter Institute sees Reed’s machine at a school science fair, he’s so impressed that he offers Reed a full scholarship to study at the Institute.
When Reed arrives at the Institute he’s introduced to fellow students Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), who’ve also been working on a teleportation machine. Although not as successful as Reed, the Institute students have discovered that objects sent through the machine don’t reappear in an unknown location on Earth but rather in another dimension. Working together, Reed and the Institute students soon manage to build an Interdimensional Bio-Matter Transporter.
Reed, Ben, Johnny and Victor use the machine to travel to another dimension. They encounter a strange energy source that threatens their lives and consumes Victor. When Reed, Ben and Johnny return to their own dimension, they find that they and Sue now have distinct superpowers. They become the Fantastic Four. They’re soon put to the test when a transformed Victor returns from the other dimension to destroy the world.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Superpowers; interdimensional travel; world destruction
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Fantastic Four contains action violence, which is sometimes intense. It also has some mass destruction, multiple deaths, occasional graphic blood and gore, some gun-related violence, brief images of battle violence and a dangerous car chase. For example:
- A teenage boy slaps his younger brother hard across the head and face. The boy’s mother enters the room, stops the older boy and then slaps him across the head and face.
- A man with superpowers battles with soldiers. He hurls army tanks through the air as if they’re toys.
- A man with superpowers kills many people with his thoughts. In one scene he uses his powers to burn a man alive inside his protective suit. The man’s skin blisters and bubbles, and his head explodes inside his helmet. Blood and gore splatters against the visor. The man with superpowers attacks and kills other people. Their heads also explode, and blood and gore splatters against walls.
- A man with superpowers kills another man by burning him alive. After the attack the man remains alive for a short while. His skin is burned black and looks mummified.
- A beam of energy shoots up into the sky from another dimension, creating a black hole on Earth. This causes mass destruction by sucking in people, cars, trains, buildings and the surrounding landscape until a large crater is left in the ground.
- The Fantastic Four fight with Victor. One man is buried beneath a large pile of rocks; a second man is pinned to the surface of the planet; a third man is knocked unconscious with fire; and a woman is trapped and crushed in a force field. Eventually the Four break free and join forces to suspend their attacker in a beam of energy that kills him. His body disintegrates.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes described above, Fantastic Four has many scenes that will scare and disturb children in this age group. For example:
- A man’s protective suit is fused with his body, which gives him a very scary appearance. He is covered in cracks that glow green and his eyes also glow green.
- In a bright lightning-like flash, four young men are teleported to another dimension. The surface of the ground resembles cracked mud with green, glowing, lava-like energy beneath. The ground explodes and streams of green liquid energy shower the four men, who run for their lives. One man is engulfed in the green liquid energy. He screams in pain as he is consumed and falls into a pool of the liquid.
- The scene in which the Fantastic Four transform as they receive their superpowers is likely to be very scary for this age group.
- A man’s face transforms into the face of another man. His flesh moves around with squelching sounds.
Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by many of the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might also be scared by the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Fantastic Four shows some use of substances. For example, three young men drink from a hip flask containing strong alcohol. They get a bit drunk, which makes them slur their words and act recklessly and dangerously. One of them says that ethanol kills brain cells.
Nudity and sexual activity
Fantastic Four shows characters flirting very mildly.
Fantastic Four shows brand-named cars, phones and soft drinks.
Fantastic Four has medium-level coarse language and name-calling throughout.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Fantastic Four is a science fiction action movie from Marvel. It features young versions of popular comic book characters and is likely to appeal to teenagers.
Although Fantastic Four has less violence than most other Marvel superhero movies, it still has brutal and bloody violence and deserves its M rating. It also has some gruesome scenes of transformation, injury and death, which could disturb children under 13 years, as well as some younger teenagers.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- By working with other people, you can achieve far more than if you work alone.
- You can’t change the past, but you can influence the future.
You could talk with your children about how the movie shows the consequences of the three young superheroes getting drunk.