The Fantastic Four is a team of comic book superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created them in 1961. One of the most important comics of the Silver Age of comic books, the first issue began the so-called "Marvel Age of Comics". Lee and artist Jack Kirby produced a groundbreaking book featuring a family of superheroes who were far more fallible and human than anything seen in the medium to date.
The Fantastic-Four acquired their superhuman abilities after their experimental rocket passed through a storm of cosmic rays. Scientist Reed Richards, who took the name Mister Fantastic, gained the ability to stretch his body into nearly any conceivable shape. His fiancée Susan Storm became able to transform herself into the Invisible Girl (later the Invisible Woman), as well as project force fields. Her younger brother Johnny Storm was given the incendiary powers of the Human Torch. Finally, pilot Ben Grimm was transformed into an orange-skinned craggy monster. Filled with self-pity he dubbed himself the Thing.
The team has used its combination of fantastic abilities to protect humanity, the earth and the universe from a number of threats. Propelled, for the main part, by Richards' innate scientific curiosity the team have explored space, the Negative Zone, the Microverse, other dimensions and nearly every hidden valley, nation, and lost civilization on the planet. They have had a number of headquarters most notably the Baxter Building in New York City and most recently an orbiting satellite version of the Baxter Building.
With this quick synopsis of the origins of the Fantastic-Four, I hope I have piqued your curiosity. For a more in depth historical development of the individual members, you can jump to this Fantastic Four article. From there you can follow the links to each team member individually, but be sure to come back.
Over the years, there have been three short-lived TV animated series and one feature-length film adaptation of the Fantastic Four comic book series. The first series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in the late 1960s. It lasted for 15 episodes, and it is favorably remembered as one of the better cartoon adaptations of a Marvel comic book series. The second series was produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in the mid-1970s.
In the mid 1990s, the WB network aired a new animated series, on Sunday mornings as part of the "Marvel Action Hour". The hour was split between Iron Man and the Fantastic-Four. Both shows lasted for two or three seasons before being cancelled. The "Marvel Action Hour" usually featured Stan Lee speaking about certain characters in each episode before it aired and what had inspired him to create many of the characters.
A movie adaptation was completed in 1997 by famed b-movie director/producer Roger Corman. However, this movie was never officially released to theaters or video. An "official" feature film adaptation of The Fantastic Four is currently scheduled for release in 2005.
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