Friday, July 17, 2015

Recap: Fantastic Four: WGH "World's Tiniest Heroes"

You know, I look at that title, and all I want to do is read the latest JL8. Here's a link. Go nuts.

But I'm here to take a look at a certain superhero's cameo in a certain Marvel show because of a certain movie coming out soon.

Obviously, I'm referring to Squirrel Girl.
The episode opens with Mr. Fantastic and the Thing in the lab. Reed sent a shrunken-down Fantasticar into the worlds between atoms, which he calls the “Microverse.” And it just returned. Ben is worried that a tiny army might have stowed away inside in an attempt to invade Earth. Yeah, that sounds like something Stan Lee would write.

Mr. Fantastic: “I don’t know why you insist that something ‘bad’ is going to happen.”

Because there’s about twenty minutes left in the episode, Reed. Something has to start up a plot.

Mr. Fantastic: “If my experiments with matter reduction…”
Thing: “Shrinking.”

As I stated in my Review of “One Little Thing,” shrinking is often seen as fodder for comedy, despite how scary shrinking would actually be. And I think I’ve figured out why.

It’s called “shrinking.”

You can call it a “matter-reduction energy emitter” all you like, the audience is going to call it a “shrink ray.” “Necro-regenerative plague hosts”? We’re just gonna call them “zombies.” Shrink rays, flying saucers, zombies, killer robots… there are some sci-fi phrases that the audience just can’t take seriously. As such, the concept behind the phrase can be pretty hard to take seriously. And when the audience can’t take shrink rays seriously… well, it looks like drama is out of the question, isn’t it?

Ant-Man enters theatres today. I wish it the best of luck with getting the audience to take shrinking seriously.

Back to the episode, Reed is confident that if his shrinking experiments keep going as well as they have been, then they could soon be able to shrink down and enter the Microverse themselves to explore it. But since shrinking people is a bit more complicated than shrinking machinery (curse you, carbon chains!), he’s invited a shrinking expert named Dr. Henry Pym over.

Suddenly, a dog runs in and knocks Reed over. Since bringing a dog into the lab seems like a stupid and terrible idea, Johnny’s obviously the one who brought him in there.

Johnny: “His codename is Firehound! Or maybe Canine Torch, I haven’t decided yet.”

Johnny is dogsitting for a kid living in the Baxter Building today. Because you definitely want to leave your pet with an idiot who might have to leave for another dimension to fight aliens at a moment’s notice. It’s just common sense.

When the dog tackled Reed, it knocked his control pad out of his hand, sending the mini-Fantasticar flying around the lab. Johnny gets the bright idea to have the dog fetch it, meaning that hijinks ensue as possibly-radioactive goo gets knocked over, lasers start randomly firing, and each member of the Fantastic Four tries and fails to catch the thing until Sue comes in and gets it with a forcefield. For no reason other than the fact that The Matrix was popular, we get a bullet-time camera spin around the force field. Oh, 2006. Never change.

Gee, I hope that goo on the dog doesn't lead to a weird subplot.
But instead of yelling at her brother for his stupidity, she takes a liking to the dog. 

Susan: “Puppy!”

Yeah, it's cute now, but wait until he reenacts that Lady and the Tramp scene with her hair.
With any and all crises apparently averted, the team decides to hit the hay. The next morning, Johnny wakes up to find that his body has gone through some changes. And since he’s already gone through puberty, he’s a bit confused.

"Am... am I a wizard?"
Being the idiot he is, Johnny assumes the dog grew overnight, apparently failing to notice that fact that his clothes don’t fit him and the building is bigger, too. His high-pitched scream wakes up his sister, who emits a high-pitched scream of her own when she notices the same problem with her one clothes and bedroom. Meanwhile, the Thing has to jump into the air to see himself in the mirror. Although Johnny would point out that with a face like that, why would he want to?
Also, his toilet is a rock grinder. Just want to point that out.
Reed, with his stretching abilities ensuring that his feet reach the floor, only notices when his iPad isn’t the size it was last night. As Reed enters the hallway, he finds Susan accusing him of shrinking her.

Reed: “It’s entirely possible that everything else just grew.”

Says that man who had an accident in his lab yesterday while dealing with stuff he had shrunk using size-altering Pym particles.

Thing: “How’s anyone supposed ta take us seriously lookin’ like this?”

Hey, if you want to be taken "seriously," then why don't you find twenty-something-year-old actors to play sexy, hip versions of yourselves in a film that strips all the wonder and fun?

Obvious punchline is obvious.
Johnny, meanwhile is riding “Firehound,” ecstatic at how big he grew overnight. Everybody’s in their costumes, so whatever happened must be shrinking their uniforms as well. As Reed hypothesizes that his shrinking experiments might be behind this (the devil you say!), Firehound walks up the wall.
Nobody notices except for Thing, who has apparently decided to keep Spider-Hound’s existence to himself.

Does whatever a Spider-Hound does.
Reed guesses that they’re all shrinking because they all touched the mini-Fantasticar with their bare hands, and that thing was lousy with Pym particles. As Reed plans to run some tests, Johnny rides Firehound some more and Thing takes the opportunity to build himself a giant sandwich. I mean, he’ll never get another chance like this.

Reed believes he can whip up a cure, so his concern is replaced with excitement over the fact that he successfully, if inadvertently, shrunk living humans.

Reed: “I should be able to beat Hank’s record!”
Susan: “Huh? Are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re not in some kind of shrinking contest with another scientist.”
Reed: “Okay. I won’t tell you that. But I think I’m gonna win.”

Really? A contest between two men to see who's smaller? That's weird; guys usually compete to see who's "bigger."

Then they all go watch Thing make his sandwich… for some reason. Seriously, shouldn’t you get to work on a cure, Reed? Thing shrinks again, causing the others to laugh at his high-pitched voice instead of worrying about their own imminent tininess. Also, Firehound is flying now.

Seriously, though, why is this happening?
But soon enough, the others shrink down some more, too. And this is finally enough to get Reed to start thinking about a cure. Gee, I hope that no problems occur as a direct result of his dilly-dallying.
He hits a button on the wall and tells HERBIE to whip up the files on the Microverse so he can begin his work.

HERBIE: “Voice identification… failure.”

Well, well, looks like you shouldn’t have waited so long, Reed. And to make things worse, they shrink yet again. So they’re really running out of time.

HERBIE takes notice of the flying dog, but is soon distracted by the fact that there are tiny humans running around. HERBIE assumes, logically, that they’re children. As such, her politely tells them to leave and refuses to obey Reed’s commands.

HERBIE: “Do you know where your parents are?”
Susan: “HERBIE! It’s us! Do a retinal scan!”
HERBIE: “Awww… Do you want to play Fantastic Four?”

Yeah, JARVIS you ain't, HERBIE.
Reed tells the others that at this rate, they’ll only have a couple hours before they shrink out of existence. Where was that urgency earlier, Reed?

Also... "shrinking out of existence"? That logic seems.... well, iffy. I mean, I get that if you shrink to an infinitely small size, where you float forever in the infinite void between planck lengths, you might as well not exist at all. But wouldn't you still exist? Boy, this made-up science can be a bit tricky.

They all head to the lab, but run into a few obstacles.

First of all, the doors open by means of pressure pads in the floor, which they can’t trigger at their reduced weight. Luckily, Susan can pry them open with a forcefield.

Second, now that they’re even smaller than they were, HERBIE comes to the conclusion that the four are actually rats.

HERBIE: “All vermin must be… eliminated.”

You know, Reed, giving HERBIE the HAL 9000 eye was asking for trouble.
Thing has a bit of trouble keeping up with the others in the gigantic corridors. Johnny stays behind to taunt him, meaning that they both get spotted by HERBIE’s cameras. HERBIE’s idea of “pest control” uses robot claws that come out of the walls, because Reed Richards ran out of lasers after putting them up randomly in his lab. And the elevator shaft, too, because that’s what HERBIE uses against Reed and Sue as they make their way up. But Susan’s forcefields come in handy yet again, and after Reed uses the manual override for the doors, they make their way into the lab.

Meanwhile, somebody arrives at the Fantastic Four’s floor in the main elevator, meaning that there’s a chance for Ben and Johnny to be seen. Unfortunately, the visitor is Ben’s blind girlfriend, Alicia, so they’re still screwed. She does actually her them fight the robo-claws, but HERBIE assures her that there most definitely are not any rats in the building that he’s exterminating as they speak. No sirreebob.

Alicia: “Where’s Ben?”
HERBIE: “Benjamin has not left the building… but Benjamin is not in the building.”
Alicia: “Um, HERBIE, how is that possible?”
HERBIE: “The Fantastic Four have not left the building… but the they are not in the building. The Fantastic Four have not left the building… but they are not in the building!”

“At what point on the graph do “have not left” and “are not in” meet!?”
After Alicia asks for another computer to talk to, HERBIE gets very self-defensive. For some reason, the conversation is being broadcast into the elevator to the lab, and Reed recognizes Alicia’s voice. He gets the idea that they can go down and get her to work the computers in the lab… despite the fact that they can’t communicate with her and Reed can just stretch far enough to work the keys. So, almost to the top, they turn around and head back down, nearly meeting disaster.

Somehow, Alicia hears Reed’s voice as all this goes on, but soon dismisses it. She leaves through the elevator as Firehound keeps flying around. So, yes, Reed’s decision to turn around turned out to be a terrible one. They all shrink yet again, and HERBIE stops detecting them as rats… and starts detecting them as mice.

Johnny’s no match for the relatively-larger robo-claws and ends up taking a tumble into the vents, with Thing running in to save him.

Johnny: “Hello, I can fly?”

Well, no one ever said Ben was the brains of the outfit.

As Ben eventually crashes into the bottom of the vent on the parking level, Reed and Susan are stuck in the elevator shaft. Reed hypothesizes that maybe, if they shrink enough, they could enter the Microverse.

Reed: “I just hope it has air.”

Well, logically, your lungs shouldn’t be able to process the normally-sized air molecules around you. So I don’t think breathing should be a problem for you.

Reed and Susan get sucked into a vent as it turns on as the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing meets an ant. For some reason, it makes cricket noises. Reed and Susan soon join Ben and Johnny at the bottom of the air vents, and things look pretty hopeless. Especially with the nearby gigantic fan that’s starting to spin around.

The Fantastic Four have fans? You'd think their comic would be doing better.
Before the team can get chopped to bits, though, a legion of ants appears out of nowhere to chew through the wiring and save them. And with the Ant comes their leader, none other than Dr. Henry Pym himself, voiced by John Payne.

Reed: “Also known as ‘Ant-Man.’”

Oh, Ant-Man, what did they do to you?

A goatee? Seriously?
This design is terrible. Well, the costume's okay. But even ignoring the minor fact that Pym is supposed to be blonde, he'd know better than to grow that ugly goatee. This is like a fourteen-year-old's redesign of a character. Add terrible facial hair and change the spandex into armor. Hey, it's how I redesigned superheroes at age 14.

Ant-Man: “Funny, I thought you’d all be taller.”

Reed sums up the problem: They’ve been exposed to shrink energy and they’re going to shrink into the Microverse.

Ant-Man: “Microverse? I named it Subatomica.”

Yeah, yeah, to-may-to, to-mah-to; kurchatovium, rutherfordium.

Also, those are different miniature universes in the comics. There's a lot of different shrunken universes in the comics, what with the fact that there are just so gosh-darn many atoms in the world.

Anyway, now that Ant-Man’s here, he can grow to normal size and work the controls. And if all else fails, Reed can wait until he’s small enough to manipulate the necessary atoms by hand. Sure, why not.

They fly up to the lab on ants, making HERBIE go nuts with the extermination procedures again. This time, he uses sonic pulses that mess with everybody’s concentration. Meanwhile, Firehound does this.

Why is this happening!?
The sonic pulses mess with Ant-Man’s helmet, and all seems lost as he loses control of his ants for a bit. Luckily, Johnny’s there to keep Ant-Man from getting attacked by one of his own ants.

Thing: “Hey, I thought you were a superhero. Aren’t you supposed to be rescuing us?”

Uh, you’re a superhero too, Ben. Maybe pull your own substantial weight?

Suddenly, Firehound teleports in and breathes fire at HERBIE’s control sphere, stopping the pulse. Deus ex machina much?

Hank grows to normal size and listens to Reed on how to override the elevator security, but they soon end up too small for Reed to shout the last digit of the code to him. Luckily, Johnny thinks of a solution.

And yes, it involves fire.
Once in the lab, the four heroes shrink into the great valleys of Hank’s fingerprint. He flicks his finger over the mini-Fantasticar in the hopes that Reed can do something, but they four are still shrinking. Suddenly, something blue flies past.

Reed: “That was an electron.”

You know, Reed, if you had just brought a radar gun with you, you could get a reading on its speed while looking at its position.

Heisenberg be damned!
With a little teamwork, Reed grabs the electron and the team soon grows to normal size. And just listen to this explanation.

Reed: “I was able to track an electron with the Microverse energy and reverse its trajectory which polarized the atom.”

You made an ion by reversing the direction of an electron? By hand? Look, I understand that we're dealing with made-up science, but this episode is also having issues with real-life science. You can't grab an electron any more than you can grab fire. Not to mention the fact that electrons basically exist in a state of only possibly existing. Darn quantum mechanics.

But the day is saved, and Firehound soon goes back to his owner.

Insert "balloon animal" joke here.
And with the kid’s scream of surprise as he looks over at his mutant dog, the episode ends.

Now let's review, and... well, see if I can figure out what the deal with that dog was.

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