Screenwriter Don Payne talks about what’s to come in the further adventures of Marvel’s First Family and why he wants to script a Silver Surfer spin-off
By Ben Morse and Brian Warmoth
Posted January 15, 2007 10:50 AM
Galactus is going to be in the movie.
There it is. That’s the answer many fans have been wondering ever since 20th Century Fox announced the sequel to 2005’s “Fantastic Four” is going to be called “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” instead of “FF2.” After all, you can’t have the Silver Surfer without Galactus, right?
Now the question on everyone’s minds is of course, what the hungry, world-devouring master will look like when he arrives on screen on June 15, 2007. Screenwriter Don Payne is coy, but he’s quick to point out “the story definitely focuses more on the Silver Surfer—otherwise it would be called ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer and Galactus,’” he laughs. However, further prodding reveals the purple planet eater, who sends his herald to seek out worlds suitable for him to consume, may not actually be explored as a character, but more as a “force.”
“As far as Galactus goes, the essence will be the same,” Payne maintains, describing the entity as an amalgam of concepts combined with the original “Coming of Galactus” story from Fantastic Four #48. “We’re also using elements from Fantastic Four #57-60, where the Silver Surfer encounters Dr. Doom,” Payne says. “Then there are a couple moments that were inspired by Ultimate Extinction.”
Payne, who’s written and produced “Simpsons” episodes and is coming off penning “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” starring Uma Thurman, has the chops to give FF2 plenty of the foursome’s trademark wit and drama. But better yet, he’s not only a lifelong Silver Surfer fan, he’s a true-blue fanboy. And as such, the writer promises a film true to its Stan Lee/Jack Kirby roots, complete with strong characters, laugh-out-loud situational comedy and, of course, plenty of bizarre and mysterious sci-fi brought to life.
“I think the sci-fi aspects set [the Fantastic Four] apart from other superhero comics,” says Payne. “It will definitely have comedic moments, but it will also have drama and action and amazing visual effects. It’s a fun adventure movie first and foremost.”
Despite his passion for the FF, Payne had his eyes sternly locked on his favorite character of all, who will make his big-screen debut. “I’ve always loved the Surfer,” the writer gushes. “I think he may be the most complex comic character of all time. He’s mysterious and he’s powerful and he’s menacing and he’s aloof but he’s also thoughtful and noble and tragic. He’s made this huge sacrifice and yet he’s bringing about the destruction of countless worlds and civilizations. He feels guilty about it but he has to have this Zen-like detachment.”
“Rise of the Silver Surfer” takes place about a year after director Tim Story’s 2005 film, and Payne has the rundown of what Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm/Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), Ben Grimm/the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and Johnny Storm/Human Torch (Chris Evans) have been up to between films.
“They’re way better off financially, and you’ll see that reflected in the Baxter Building and in Reed’s lab, both of which have been refurbished,” Payne explains, adding that, in his mind, the team will have had encounters with a few supervillains in that time period. “Reed and Sue are dealing with being celebrities and superheroes and also trying to have a private life. Reed is struggling to retain his status as a respected scientist while also doing the superhero thing.”