How fantastic are you?
As opposed to many of the other superhero movies this or any summer, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer once again gives us at least four unique heroes with comic-book powers and equally comic-book personalities.
When we watch this film, we may find ourselves connecting with one or another of the characters. We start to see the movie's plot, situations, and challenges from the perspective of that character. We invest in that character, hoping their journey will be a worthwhile one by the time the credits roll.
So which of the main characters of Fantastic Four are you most like? How fantastic are you?
Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd)
Richards' ability is to stretch his body into all sorts of shapes and sizes, but what sets him apart is his superior intellegence. His mathematical and scientific skills led the Four to track and find the mysterious Silver Surfer, and escape in a brand new airplane. But what weakens Richards is his overconfidence in his smarts and forgetfulness of the relationships around him (including his fiancee Sue Storm). Are we like Reed Richards? Are we so consumed with our work that we forget to stop and smell the roses? Are we so obsessed with ourselves and forget the life-giving relationships all around us? Do we feel so 'stretched' that we cannot give enough time and attention to our loved ones? If so, maybe we're Mr. Fantastic, too.
The Invisble Girl/Sue Storm (Jessica Alba)
Sue Storm has the gift of turning invisble and creating a protective forcefield around her and others. In this movie, she yearns to give it all up just to enjoy her soon-to-be married life. She seems quite focused on preparing for the future in spite of the present. Regardless of what's going on right now, her attention is on what lies ahead. Are we like Sue Storm? Are we waiting for the perfect "tomorrow," frustrated with "today"? Do we just want to turn invisible and escape our life right now? If so, maybe we're just like the Invisible Girl.
The Human Torch/Johnny Storm (Chris Evans)
Flaming up and flying away in a firestorm are the powers of Johnny Storm. Just like his illuminating gifts, Storm is a fiesty pistol, enjoying life just a little bit TOO much. He moves from girlfriend to girlfriend, never feeling good enough to settle down. Are we like Johnny Storm? Are we all talk but no one really knows us deep inside? Do we draw attention to ourselves, so that no one notices the real issues lying within our soul? Are we lonely even in a crowd of people? If so, maybe we're torching up like Johnny Storm.
The Thing/Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis)
Grimm's unwelcome reaction to nuclear exposure in the first movie made him into a super-powerhouse rock man. Unlike the other three, Grimm's ability never turns off - in fact, it's almost akin to a deformity. While he's physically strong, Grimm is a soft guy at heart. He bemoans his fate as the rock-laden "freak" amongst his picture-perfect colleagues. But in this sequel, through the love of his girlfriend Alicia, he's the one who has it all together. His was the character I most identified with myself; even though I feel imperfect and awkward at times, sometimes feeling less important than others around me, it is through the love of my wife and my friends and family that makes me feel like a superhero. Are you like The Thing too? Do you have feelings of inadequecy? Do you feel like an outsider? But do you feel the power of the love of your friends and family lift you up beyond your own abilities? Maybe, like me, you're not unlike the rock-hard Ben Grimm.
The Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne)
In this film, the Silver Surfer is the quiet outsider who comes to earth to destroy it, but finds that our human love and compassion make this planet truly worth saving. The Surfer undergoes a conversion experience like Paul of Tarsus, whose original mission was to destroy the Christians but then became the new savior of this new movement. Are you like the Silver Surfer? Have you had a conversion experience that has changed your mind about your world? Do you find yourself light years away from where you once were, before you "saw the light"? Are you called to save the world? Then just maybe you're another Silver Surfer, too.
Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington)
One of the most underappreciated heroes of Rise of the Silver Surfer is someone unexpected, someone without a single superpower. Alicia Masters is the blind girlfriend of Ben Grimm, who loves The Thing despite the fact that her man is made of rock. She doesn't let her disability stop her from loving. She doesn't let the world tell her what to do with her life. Are you like Alicia? Are you someone who sees beauty in all things, regardless of their appearance? Are you someone who isn't going to let anyone impose their expectations on you? Are you living your life to the fullest, giving your love freely to all God's creation? Perhaps, then, you're just like Ms. Alicia Masters, the real life superhero of Fantastic Four.
What unites all these fantastic people is that they all struggle, but they go above and beyond their shortcomings, their problems, and their limitations. What makes these characters really fantastic isn't their superpowers, it's who they are inside.
Just like you and me: what makes us fantastic isn't what we can do, what our job is, or what strengths or skills we've been blessed with. What makes us fantastic is who we are deep down inside, and the person God is calling us to be - so that we, too, can save the world.