Quantcast Icons Of Fright Vs. The Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four signing @ Jim Hanley's Universe - 4 West 33rd St., NYC. (June 28, 2005)

Ok. So, granted... The Fantastic Four doesn't necessarily fall under the category of "horror", but I'm willing to bet a good chunk of horror fans out there are also comic book fans, such as myself. When I heard (last minute) that the entire cast of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie were going to be doing an in-store appearance at a New York city comic shop, I knew I had to bail from work and be a part of it. After all, it is kind of genre related. I mean, Dr. Doom has got to be THE biggest villain icon in the Marvel universe. So, there. He can be an Icon Of Fright. And Jessica Alba... well, she was in 'Idle Hands'. So, there's the horror connection.

Anyways, The in-store was set to take place between 12:30pm until 2pm. I had called in advance for details & was informed it'd be wise to arrive by 9am in order to secure myself a chance to meet the films' stars. Luckily, my buddy John lives in the city and was able to hold me a spot as I trekked it from Long Island via the over priced LIRR. (Hell, I even missed my first train. Standard of Robg. luck.) At a little past 9am, we end up being about 50th in line. Shortly after, at least another 100 or so people lined up behind us. And the next 4 hours are far from pleasant. It turns out to be one of the hottest, most humid and nasty days in New York. The weather can't decide if it wants to pour on us or not.

The first of many disappointments comes at around 11-ish, when we're told that there will be absolutely no pictures allowed inside the store. The wonderful people at 'Fox' apparently forbid it. However, we are assured that if the actor's themselves don't object to taking personal pictures with fans, then the store & studio will have no choice but to comply.

By the time it's around 12:40pm, the entire street is practically mobbed as if it was a movie premiere and there was a guy running around in a Spider-Man costume. Slowly but surely, each star arrives one at a time and exits their vehicle. Since, there were not going to be pictures allowed inside, I decided to take this opportunity to snag some close-up shots from the street. I waited 4 hours in the sweltering heat, I figured I'm entitled.

First out was Julian McMahon, who plays Dr. Doom in the flick. I've recently become a big fan of his, as my cousin has got me hooked on 'Nip/Tuck'. (Yet another fantastic show on FX, with plenty of gory surgery bits that make even me flinch!) Second was Ioan Gruffudd, who I only caught walking around for less then a minute. Third was my boy Michael Chiklis, who plays everyone's favorite ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing (aka Ben Grimm). He seemed to be the most excited to be there, as he himself has admitted to being a huge Fantastic Four fan. This is where things actually get nuts. Chris Evans (The Human Torch/Johnny Storm) comes out and next thing you know, I feel like I'm in the middle of a mosh pit fighting for my right to breathe. Jessica Alba came out, and literally... I must've been pushed 20 feet from where I was originally standing, trying to get a picture. I had a sudden flashback to 94, of myself fighting for dear life in the middle of a Nine Inch Nails show at Roseland. Seriously? You would've thought Jessica Alba was Madonna. This was the same girl in the new 'Flipper', right? The whole crowd was pushing and screaming her name out, asking for a pic and an autograph, and quite frankly, it's not pleasant having a dozen sweaty people pile up on you over a shitty actress who's horribly miscast as Sue Storm anyways. (I suppose a pretty face will get you cast, even if you look nothing like your comic book counterpart) Regardless, I got a picture of her hair before I gave up and went back on line. I figured, I waited all day, I'll get to meet them up close now anyways.

The line moved fairly fast once the autograph session started, but it was already well past 1pm. Were they really giving up at 2pm? I mean, there's hundreds of people waiting behind us. By the time I made it to the door, the rumors we had heard were true. Jessica Alba was at the store for a matter of 2 minutes, filmed a quick interview with Entertainment Tonight, and left. Not bothering to sign one autograph or meet one fan. Guess the star of such hits as 'Honey', 'Never Been Kissed', and the new 'Flipper' is too good to meet all those devoted comic readers outside whom plan on supporting her new movie. As I walk into the comic shop, they immediately reprimand me for having a digital camera and force me to check it in, as if i were carrying a weapon. We are waiting by the table to meet the stars (minus Alba) when we notice only 3 of the 5 guests sitting there. It seemed Julian McMahon was in the back filming an interview for Entertainment Tonight as well. And literally, a minute later, Ioan Gruffudd got up from the table and went into the back for HIS interview with those wonderful Entertainment Tonight people. Did... we just get dissed by the dude from 'King Arthur'? We politely asked the staff if they were coming back to sign autographs, and that's when they make the announcement that the line was cut off and that the event would in fact be over by 2pm. There were maybe 10 people behind us before the cut off point. And again, remember... we all waited since 9am. I feel terrible for all the fans that got there after 9:30 and waited all day for nothing.

Well, they gave us a free orange t-shirt that said "It's Clobberin' Time" and a theatrical poster to get signed, so I guess I was ready to meet... the Fantastic Two? Well, whatever, Michael Chiklis & Chris Evans are the only two members of the cast I think are good casting, so I was ready. Michael was flat out 'tha man'. I approached him with a big smile and said, "There he is. The perfect casting for Ben Grimm!" To which he laughed as he graciously signed my poster. I confessed that I got into his television show 'The Shield' after I had learned of him being in the Fantastic Four movie, and devoured all 3 seasons on DVD in less then 2 weeks. He also commented on my 'Evil Dead 2' T-shirt which solidified his coolness. Earlier in the morning, I had debated getting dressed up nice for what I thought would be my meeting of Jessica Alba, but instead opted to wear my Evil Dead 2 T-shirt. My rational was that if any of the cast recognized or commented on my shirt of one of the greatest horror films of all time, then they were ok in my book. Confirmed... I knew Michael Chiklis was the cool one. Then I stepped up to Chris Evans. I love the Human Torch character in the comics, especially when he teams up with Spidey. (Comic gold, I tell you!) I was hoping the actor that played him was equally as cool. (Even if he's not blonde, like his comic counterpart) Well, he... pretty much ignored me as he signed my poster because he was too busy chatting with some girl at the side of the table. Well, I guess he IS like his character after all. But... this dude dates Jessica Biel. If you were dating Jessica Biel, would you feel the need to ignore fans of your new movie to chat with some semi-cute gal? Guess so. What I was really thinking was "Dude... I waited 4 hours to meet you. Don't be a dick." But what came out was instead a sarcastic, "Thanks, CHRIS!" To which he finally looked up almost slightly embarrassed. Almost.

We were ushered out the door to face a hundred or so disappointed fans, who were being turned away. And all I could think was... that was so freakin' LAME! Quite frankly, this experience has soured my will to even see the movie. If it weren't for Michael Chiklis, then this movie would be (pardon the pun) doomed. In a nutshell... what I've learned and my advice to all of you out there? Don't bother going to a comic related in-store or anything to do with a bullshit Hollywood movie. None of these actor's understand that the people that waited all day in line were fans of the characters of the comic book, which has endured now for over 40 years. (With the exception of Michael Chiklis, who is an admitted huge fan of the Thing) Quite frankly, I'd rather meet genre celebrities at a horror con, because no true fan is better then a horror fan. And this new Fantastic Four can't possibly come close to being as good as 'Batman Begins'. That's the whole story, true believers... and I'm sticking to it. -robg.

The stores wonderful displays got me semi-excited for the actual signing... but the day would only get worse.

Julian McMahon (Dr. Doom) makes his entrance.

Followed by a brief encounter with Ioan Gruffudd.

There's the man... Michael Chiklis!!!

Chris Evans and a swarm of ladies...

Yep. My golden moment. A shot of Jessica Alba's ... hair! Impressed?

This would've been a good Jessica Alba close-up... if I hadn't been violently pushed in the process.

Well, folks... THIS is the REAL Fantastic Four!!!

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