While everyone’s seeing Dark Knight, a word about last weekend’s superhero:
Hellboy makes me realize one reason (besides Galactus not looking right, as noted Friday) that the Fantastic Four movies haven’t been fully satisfying: Ben Grimm (the Thing) should be every bit the cynical, funny, larger-than-life, cigar-chomping bruiser that Hellboy is — the comic book Ben Grimm may even have influenced Hellboy. But the filmic Ben Grimm doesn’t quite cut it. Nothing wrong with Chiklis’s performance, really — but the Thing should be over-the-top gruff and should have the massive, chiseled, cartoonish countenance to match. The movie Thing is OK, but he should be as beloved and iconic as Spider-Man or Wolverine — or at least as gruff and amusing as Hellboy.
And indeed, Ben was my favorite comic book character back in the late 70s when I was a youthful Marvel Zombie. Having at least one hero on hand to sigh and mutter a ticked-off “Fer tha luva Pete!” at some bombastic villain helped make even the most ridiculous scenarios feel a bit more familiar and human — sort of like Han Solo’s sarcasm in Star Wars. Wolverine, by contrast, is more of a “cool” guy — one of many 70s/80s iterations of Dirty Harry, really.
At a performance space somewhere downtown, I recall seeing a comic book page pinned up as a decoration in the men’s room that summed up the Thing perfectly. Thor threw his hammer at a giant foe and shouted about doing it “in the name of the Nine Realms.” Ben Grimm threw a big rock at the same foe, shouting “fer Brooklyn!!”