"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"FANTASTIC FOUR"

by

Mark Frost and Michael France

based on the Marvel comic book by

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

SHOOTING SCRIPT



FADE IN:

CLOSE ON A MASSIVE STEEL HEAD

Our first thought: DR. DOOM? But it's not moving. A welder's
torch sparks into frame in the hands of a sculptor on
scaffolding. This is art, an epic 20 foot statue going up of
a business mogul (VICTOR VON DOOM) in whose generously
extended hands sit two intertwined columns of DNA. His face
is chiseled, angular, perfect (too perfect). Past sparks, we
MOVE down to pick up...

EXT. STREET/VON DOOM INDUSTRIES TOWER - DAY

REED RICHARDS and BEN GRIMM head toward the soaring glass-
box atrium of VDI Headquarters. Designed to inspire awe, it
does.

REED
High open space, exposed structural
elements. Obviously aimed at first
time visitors to create feelings
of... smallness, inadequacy.

Ben glances at Reed, who looks a little nervous.

BEN
Good thing it ain't workin... Reed,
what are we doing here? This guy's
fast-food, strip-mall science --

REED
This wasn't our first stop, in case
you forgot NASA. And Victor's not
that bad. He's just a little...
(seeing the statue)
Larger than life.

INT. VON DOOM INDUSTRIES TOWER - DAY

They move past the statue, into the sprawling atrium.

REED
He's financed some of the biggest
breakthroughs of this century.

BEN
You'd never know it.

He motions to a high-tech ORB, showing FOOTAGE of VDI's
accomplishments: a safe and clean nuclear facility, the first
private Space Station.

All images have VICTOR front and center, glad-handling George
Bush, Tony Blair, shady International Leaders. The last image
is Victor holding the AMERICA'S CUP.

BEN
Jesus. That too?

They reach three stern RECEPTIONISTS.

REED
Reed Richards and Ben Grimm to see --

A receptionist cuts him off, handing them each a pass.

FEMALE RECEPTIONIST
Executive elevator, top floor.

BEN
What's the price for a smile round
here?

They head for the elevator. Reed carries a small, black box.
As they enter the elevator, steel doors shut and we CUT TO --

INT. VON DOOM INDUSTRIES TOWER - OFFICE - DAY

A large, dark office. Ben in the corner. He yawns, watches...

BRIGHT HOLOGRAMS: Stars. Planets. They hover in the air,
making the room feel like a majestic portal into outer space.

REED (O.S.)
My research suggests that exposure
to a high-energy cosmic storm born
on solar winds might have triggered
the evolution of early planetary
life.

REED stands among the holograms, speaking to a MYSTERIOUS
FIGURE in shadow behind a desk. An ominous, PULSATING RED
CLOUD covers the stars. It washes over a hologram of EARTH.

REED
In six weeks another cloud with the
same elemental profile will pass
Earth's orbit. A study in space could
advance our knowledge about the
structure of the human genome, and
help cure countless diseases, extend
human life --

The SHADOW clears his throat. Reed speeds up, emotional.

REED
Give kids the chance to be stronger,
healthier, less prone to --

SHADOWED FIGURE
Turn it off. Please.

The figure's DEEP VOICE pierces the darkness.

REED
But I haven't fully explained my --

SHADOWED FIGURE
Yes you have... Imagination.
Creativity. Passion. Those were always
your trademarks.

Lights brighten, revealing the face behind the voice: VICTOR
VON DOOM. 35, handsome, commanding. He looks almost...
airbrushed. He drops a WIRED magazine to the desk. REED is
on the cover over the words: RICHARDS BANKRUPT, GRANT
CUTBACKS.

VICTOR
But dreams don't pay the bills, do
they?
(a condescending smile)
Same old Reed, the hopeless optimist.
Still reaching for the stars, with
the world on your back.

REED
You remember in school we talked
about working together. That's what
I was about to explain...

Reed presses the remote. Another hologram appears: A SHUTTLE
slowly approaching AN ORBITING SPACE STATION. Both bear the
VON DOOM INDUSTRIES logo. Victor smiles, more intrigued.

VICTOR
So it's not my money you want. It's
my toys... Tell me: if NASA doesn't
trust you, why should I?

Victor is a step ahead. Reed pauses, thrown for a beat. Ben
wakes up, suspicious. Victor notices. He notices everything.

VICTOR
That's my job. To stay a step ahead.
To know what other men don't.

Ben gets close to Reed, turning toward the door.

BEN
I can't take this.

REED
(low, quiet)
Ben. This is business. Just work.

A beat. Victor cracks a smile, enjoying the tension. And...

SUE (O.S.)
He's right, Ben.

They turn to see... SUE STORM (demure, stunning) standing in
a corner... possibly for the whole presentation. A little
cold:

SUE
It's just business.

VICTOR
I think you both know my Director of
Genetic Research, Susan Storm.

BEN
Heya Susie.
(under breath, to
Reed)
One more thing he's got.

Sue gracefully walks into the office, only taking her eyes
off of Reed to give Ben a warm hug.

SUE
Ben, it's been too long.

She gives Reed a polite handshake. Victor watches carefully.
Reed looks uncomfortable in her gaze. A little tongue-tied.

REED
You're, you've, I mean, how have you
bee--

SUE
Never better.

Victor sizes them up. He puts a hand on Sue's shoulder.

VICTOR
This isn't going to be a problem, is
it?

REED
Not at all.

SUE
Ancient history.

Victor smiles, eyeing Sue.

VICTOR
Good. Then you're just in time to
hear the great Reed Richards ask me
for help.
(to Reed)
You know, you made a lot of folks at
MIT feel like a junior high science
fair. So you'll excuse me if I savor
the moment.

Ben tightens. A hard beat. Reed sucks it up.

REED
You back this mission, and I'll sign
over a fair percentage of any
applications or --

VICTOR
The number's seventy-five. And it's
applications and patents.

BEN
What about his first born?

REED
(quiet)
Ben, the money's not important. We
could save lives.

Sue gives a thin smile -- a flicker of old feelings.

VICTOR
Twenty-five percent of a billion is
enough to keep the lights on, isn't
it? Maybe even pay off your fourth
mortgage on the Baxter Building.

They look at Victor. How does he know all this...?

VICTOR
Deal...?

Reed looks at Ben, who shakes his head softly no. But Reed...
drops a nod. Done. Victor smiles, offers a handshake.

VICTOR
Well then, to our future. Together.

Victor squeezes. Hard. His other hand on Sue's shoulder.

VICTOR
Funny how things turn out, isn't it?

REED
Hilarious.

As Reed and Sue lock eyes, Ben watches Victor. Wary.

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER - DAY

Director of Communications LEONARD enters, checking files.

VICTOR
If Reed's right, then this little
trip will double our stock offering.

LEONARD
And if he's not...?

VICTOR
Reed's always right. Good thing he
doesn't always know what he's got...

INT. VON DOOM INDUSTRIES TOWER - ELEVATOR - MOMENTS LATER

Reed and Ben step into the elevator.

BEN
He knew about NASA. What if he made
the call to shut us down --

REED
Ben, think about all the people we
can help if this works --

BEN
Maybe you should think about yourself
for once. You always let this guy
push you round --

REED
We got what we wanted. That's enough.

BEN
I know, I know. I'm just worried
about what he wants... Speaking of
which...

Reed follows Ben's eyes to... SUE. She joins them. Doors
shut.

INT. VON DOOM INDUSTRIES STAIRCASE - CONTINUOUS

SUE
You sure about this, Reed?

He nods, head down. He doesn't want eye contact.

REED
Those solar winds are flaring, but I
factored them into my coordinates
and --

SUE
I was talking about us. Working
together.

Sue holds her eyes on Reed. He is clearly uncomfortable in
her gaze. Did the elevator just get smaller?

REED
(thinking, talking
fast)
Well, uh, based on our history...
you can handle the biogenetics, and
I'll focus on the molecular physics.
Or, uhm, maybe I should take the
biotech, you work the microscopes,
since you have some background in
electropho--

SUE
(droll, a little
annoyed)
Right. That's exactly what I meant.

She shakes her head -- same old Reed. He looks at her --
what did he say wrong? Ben smiles, patting Reed on the
shoulder.

BEN
Way to not overthink it.
(to Sue)
So when do we leave?

SUE
I'll schedule the launch. Call me in
the morning to talk about resources
and crew.

She offers a business card. Reed doesn't take it.

REED
I, uh, think I remember the number.

SUE
It's been changed.

Beat. Ben grimaces. Reed takes the card, his eyes down.

REED
As far as crew, I was hoping Ben
could pilot the mission --

SUE
Well, he's welcome to ride shotgun,
but we already have a pilot on our
payroll. You remember my brother
Johnny...

Off Ben's curdling smile, we DISSOLVE TO --

EXT. LAKE LAUNCH FACILITY - DAY

A helicopter shot through trees. We soar over timberland,
and find something massive looming on the horizon:

A SPACECRAFT. A sleek take on a space shuttle. Modern tech
combined with industrial design that NASA could never afford.
The craft's nose is pointed straight up, ready for launch.
WORKERS IN JUMPSUITS are scattered around the two-hundred
foot tall scaffolding, performing routine checks.

EXT. GANTRY OVERLOOK - DAY

Ben stares up at the craft. A sneer on his face.

BEN
Can't do it. I cannot do it.

REED
External SRBs, orbital system engines.
Its just like the shuttles you flew
in --

BEN
No. I cannot take orders from that
underwear model. That wingnut washed
out of NASA for sneaking two Victoria
Secret wannabes into a flight
simulator.

REED
Youthful high spirits.

They walk toward the base of the scaffolding.

BEN
They crashed it into a wall. A flight
simulator.

REED
I'm sure he's matured since then.

CLOSE on JOHNNY STORM, leaning over to kiss a hot redhead.
PULL BACK TO REVEAL he's riding a MOTORCYCLE, and she's
driving a red CORVETTE with license plate: FRANKIE. PICK UP
Reed and Ben, watching through binoculars.

REED
When have I asked you to do something
you absolutely said you could not
do?

BEN
Five times.

REED
I had it at four.

BEN
This makes five.

INT. LAKE LAUNCH FACILITY LOCKER ROOM - NIGHT

Reed and Ben unpack gear into lockers. Suddenly --

JOHNNY (O.S.)
Captain on the bridge!

Ben goes to attention on reflex: Johnny snaps a picture with
a digital camera. Then advances, as Ben realizes who it is...

JOHNNY
Digital camera: $254. Memory stick:
$59. The look on your hard-ass former
CO's grill when he finds out he's
your junior officer: priceless.

Ben eyeballs Johnny, suddenly reaches up as if to grab him.
Johnny flinches. But Ben just reaches for Johnny's zipper,
adjusts his uniform.

BEN
I can handle the ship. I can even
handle Mr. Blonde Ambition. But I
don't know if I should be flying or
playing Vegas in these suits. Who
the hell came up with them?

SUE
Victor did.

Sue enters, wearing her blue, wetsuit-like uniform, carrying
a stack of flightsuits. She hands them out to the guys.

SUE
The synthetics act as a second skin,
adapting to your individual needs to --

JOHNNY
Keep the hot side hot, and the cool
side cool!

REED
Wow. Fantastic.

Reed stares at Sue in the skintight outfit. She wonders,
maybe hopes -- is he actually checking her out?

REED
Material made from self-regulating
unstable molecules. I've been working
on a formula for this.

SUE
Great minds think alike.

VICTOR (O.S.)
Guess some think faster than others.

Victor enters, wearing his custom-tailored flightsuit.

VICTOR
I hired Armani to design the pattern.
These colors will look great on
camera.

A DOOR OPENS. Leonard enters, in a sharp suit.

LEONARD
They're ready for you, sir.

VICTOR
Showtime.

EXT. LAKE LAUNCH FACILITY - HALLS - NIGHT

Leonard leads Victor through the halls. Victor checks himself
in mirrors as he walks, fixing his hair, his uniform.

LEONARD
Our numbers are through the roof.
The IPO's tracking at fifty, sixty a
share. The bank's five times
oversubscribed --

VICTOR
It's not just the money. I could
make money in my sleep.

LEONARD
Then what is it?

VICTOR
History, Leonard. History. Everything
else is conversation...
(a beat)
How's the other matter?

Leonard pulls out a BOX. Opens it: a TEN KARAT DIAMOND RING.

LEONARD
Harry Winston sends his regards.

They hit a set of big doors. Victor stops and looks into the
reflective, metallic surface on the wall. He fixes one last
strand of hair. Perfect. Then he opens the door to...

SNAP!SNAP!SNAP! WHIP-PAN a row of CAMERAS snapping shots of --

EXT. LAKE LAUNCH FACILITY - NIGHT

Retrofitted into a makeshift press area. Victor sits on a
platform, with reporters stretched out below him.

VICTOR
Today we stand on the edge of a new
frontier. In the furthest depths of
outer space... we will find the
secrets to inner space. The final
key to unlocking our genetic code
lies in a cosmic storm...

BEHIND THE ACTION: Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben walk past. News
crews barely notice, passing without even taking a picture.
Our "Fantastic Four" are not exactly big news. Not yet.

BEN
Isn't that your speech?

REED
He's made a few changes.

BEN
This is your dream, Reed. You should
be the one up there.

REED
Victor's better at these things.

Just past the press area, they see... one woman standing,
waiting. This is DEBBIE, Ben's fiancée. And for the first
time in the entire film... Ben SMILES. They hug, kissing.

Johnny and Reed watch. Reed glances at Sue, who walks ahead.
Debbie slips a photo into Ben's flightsuit. A tender beat.

BEN
I'll be watching over you.

DEBBIE
Just get back soon, or I start looking
for a new groom.

Ben looks at the little ENGAGEMENT RING on her finger.

BEN
Soon as I'm back, I'm gonna trade
that in for a bigger rock.

DEBBIE
I don't care about rocks, I care
about you.
(to Reed)
You bring him back in one piece, or
you can forget being Best Man.

Reed nods, smiles. Debbie gives Ben a last kiss. Ben turns
to Johnny, who gives a cocky smile.

BEN
What the hell you smiling at? Just
keep your mouth shut, and your mind
on those SMBs --

JOHNNY
Actually, the engines are SMEs.
Hydrogenbase, carbon propellant.
Couple generations past your last
ride.
(at the threshold)
I'm not as dumb as you look.

Ben just glares at Reed. This is going to be a long trip.
As they follow after Sue, we CUT BACK TO --

VICTOR ON STAGE

Mid-speech. Playing behind him is REED'S HOLOGRAM: stars
give way to a pulsating red cloud...

VICTOR
Think of a world without genetic
flaws -- no asthma, allergies,
baldness, breast cancer...

Ben and Reed hear the speech. Ben bristles.

BEN
What's wrong with being bald...?

Victor smiles at the crowd, commanding. A true leader.

VICTOR
Darwin discovered evolution. Now we --
I -- will define it. Only in America
could...

The red cloud of cosmic rays wash over the Earth.

VICTOR
...a little country boy from Latveria
build one of the biggest companies
in the world, and truly reach the
stars. Now if you'll excuse me,
history awaits...

On those words, the HOLOGRAM TRANSFORMS TO... Von Doom's
SHUTTLE on the launch pad. BOOM! THRUSTERS FIRE WHITE HOT.
Smoke billows across the pad. Ready for take off.

Victor walks past the hologram and exits. His departure
perfectly timed with the shuttle LIFTING OFF.

We push in on the shuttle, and follow the ship as it leaves
Earth's atmosphere. BOOM -- booster rockets fall away and
the shuttle fires its thrusters. The hologram transitions
to...

A shot of the SPACE STATION high above the Earth. The shuttle
enters from the top, lighting up the hologram with engines
afire. As the shuttle approaches the station we CUT TO --

EXT. DEEP SPACE - SAME

THE SPACE STATION in the distance, rotating in orbit above
Earth. THE SHUTTLE eases in and docks.

INT. SPACE STATION - COMMAND CENTER - SAME

Victor and Sue lead the others into the command center.

JOHNNY
(a "dad voice": to
Ben)
If you behave, maybe next time
daddy'll let you drive.

BEN
Keep talking, there won't be a next
time.

Reed is focused on THE EARTH.

SUE
Long way from the projection booth
at the Hayden Planetarium, isn't it?

Reed turns towards her -- a little stunned that she would
bring that up. It's the first time she's been nice to him so
far. He smiles, gently, hesitantly, always hesitant with
Sue.

REED
Yes. Yes it is.

Johnny and Ben exchange a look. Reed keeps looking at the
stars, eyes wide, like a little kid.

INT. SPACE STATION - COMMAND CENTER/OBSERVATION DECK - SAME

They enter the nerve center of the space station. Victor
goes to a computer console on the observation deck below.
The windows are closed, so there's nothing to observe.

VICTOR
(to ground; via comm-
link)
Leonard, how's the feed?

LEONARD (V.O.)
Recording, sir. We see you perfectly.

Victor glances at a camera mounted into the console.

SUE
We can monitor the cloud's approach
and observe the tests from here.

BEN
Is it safe?

REED
The shields on the station should
protect us.

BEN
Should?

VICTOR
What's wrong, Ben? Eighty-million
dollars worth of equipment not enough
for you?

Ben turns to Victor. A little tension. Reed cuts it:

REED
Let's start loading those samples.
Get your suit ready, Ben.

Victor keeps his eyes on Ben.

VICTOR
So you still do all the heavy lifting?

Victor gives a friendly smile, patting Reed.

VICTOR
Maybe you should have stayed back in
the lab. Field work never suited
you.

Reed doesn't defend himself. Ben steps up.

BEN
He does the talking. I do the walking.
Got it?

Victor holds tight to his smile. He nods, condescending.

VICTOR
Got it. So take a walk, Ben... I'm
going to borrow Susan for a second.

REED
Sure.

Ben and Johnny read his eyes, as we CUT TO --

INT. SPACE STATION - AIR LOCK - LATER

Ben preps for a space walk, putting on a helmet and boots.
Johnny unloads a set of clear sample boxes off of a cart,
each containing a variety of plants.

JOHNNY
Please tell me your dawg's not trying
to rekindle things with my sister.

BEN
'Course not. Strictly business.

JOHNNY
Yeah, well, his eyes say different.

BEN
Hey, two hearts got busted last time.
Maybe she's not over it either.

JOHNNY
Let's see: you got Victor, stud of
the year, more coin than God? Or
Reed, the world's dumbest smart guy
worth less than a postage stamp.
Hmmm, it's a toss-up.

BEN
Put your tiny little mind at ease.

JOHNNY
Don't you wander off, boy.

Johnny steps out of the air-lock and shuts the door. He looks
through a small window to see Ben give the thumbs up. THE
AIRLOCK DOOR opens, and Ben gracefully steps into space.

INT. SPACE STATION - OBSERVATION DECK - SAME TIME

Sue descends the stairs at Victor's behest. Joins him.

VICTOR
Surprised I agreed to Reed's proposal?

SUE
I understand the business reasons.

VICTOR
Well, when you're looking at your
future, it never hurts to find closure
about the past.

Sue's eyes narrow. What is this about...?

VICTOR
Susan, every man dreams that he'll
meet some woman he can give the world
to.

He presses a button and the observation deck's outer windows
open up, revealing a spectacular, romantic view of the EARTH.

VICTOR
In my case, it's not just a metaphor.

While she stares out the window, Victor reaches into a pocket,
revealing a RING BOX. Sue looks unsettled.

INT. SPACE STATION - NEARBY CORRIDOR - SAME TIME

Reed checks data on a work station, set on a wall. The results
of his calculations are not what he expected... He sees WIND
VELOCITY digits rise. He does a double-take when he sees the
readout: EVENT THRESHOLD, T-MINUS 10:00.

REED
No... no... impossible. It's... too
fast.

INT. SPACE STATION - OBSERVATION DECK - SAME TIME

Behind his back, Victor holds the ring box in hand.

VICTOR
You've been with me two years now.

Sue doesn't know where this is going. She treads lightly.

SUE
It's been a good two years, Victor...
The company's accomplished so much.

VICTOR
Right, of course, the company... But
you see, I've come to realize all
the accomplishments in the world
mean nothing without someone to share
them with --

SUE
Uh, Victor, I hope I haven't done
something to make you think...

VICTOR
Sue, I've lived my life unafraid of
taking big steps. And this is the
biggest step yet. If it helps, think
of this as a promotion. A merger of
sorts...
(getting closer)
Four little words that can change
our lives...

He is about to spring the ring on her. She looks like a deer
in headlights. She opens her mouth, and... WHAM! Doors slam
open. REED RUSHES INTO THE ROOM.

REED
The cloud is accelerating!

Victor quickly puts the ring back in his pocket.

REED
I don't know what happened.

Sue quickly moves to a nearby control panel to verify Reed's
claim. Starts punching buttons. Confirms Reed's findings
with a nod. Victor hardens, in control.

REED
We've got minutes until it hits, not
hours... Victor, that storm's deadly --
the radiation's lethal. We need to
abort.

VICTOR
Get a grip. Reed. We didn't come all
this way to lose our nerve at the
first little glitch. Just close the
shields...

REED
Ben's still out there --

VICTOR
So reel him in. But we came here to
do a job. So let's do it. Quickly.

EXT. SPACE STATION - MOMENTS LATER

Ben is carefully arranging SAMPLE BOXES OF PLANTS.

REED (ON RADIO)
Ben, we need you back inside.

Ben turns to see Reed and Johnny staring from a window.

BEN (INTO RADIO)
I ain't done arranging your flowers,
egghead.

REED
Ben. This is serious. Turn around.

Ben sees Johnny motioning for Ben to look behind him. Ben
turns and sees: THE COSMIC STORM, rumbling toward the station.
Not close, but not far. That gets Ben's attention.

BEN
Roger that, on my way.

He turns back towards the ship. BEHIND HIM, the storm grows.

INT. SPACE STATION - COMMAND CENTER - SAME TIME

Victor rushes into the room, looks at the monitors. Sees the
others near the airlock on one screen, and the approaching
cloud on another. Anxiety creeps across his face.

AUTOMATED VOICE
Event threshold in two minutes.

INT. SPACE STATION - AIRLOCK DOOR - SAME TIME

Reed and Johnny stand by the airlock, waiting for Ben. They
heard the automated voice. It panics Reed.

REED
Come on, Ben, come on...

VICTOR (ON RADIO)
Reed, we're running out of time.

EXT. OUTER SPACE - MOMENTS LATER

A wake of turbulence from the cloud hits Ben, making it harder
to maneuver. The cloud's tendrils snake toward him.

INT. SPACE STATION - AIRLOCK DOOR - SAME TIME

They can see Ben outside the window, still twenty yards away.
The entire corridor rumbles. Lights flicker and spark. They
watch helplessly.

INT. SPACE STATION - COMMAND CENTER/OBSERVATION DECK - SAME

Sue watches the monitor, also helpless.

SUE
Johnny... Reed...

Victor, annoyed by the indecisiveness, marches right up to
Sue. Practically shoves her aside as he hits the INTERCOM.

VICTOR
Reed, you need to get up here so we
can close the shields! Now!

Sue glares at Victor. His lack of compassion shocks her.

REED
Not until Ben is back inside!

VICTOR
It's too late for him, and soon it'll
be too late for all of us.

Victor doesn't bother to wait for a response. He takes over
the console, punching keys.

SUE
What are you doing?

VICTOR
Raising the shields.

SUE
You can't leave them out there.

Sue glares with as much contempt as her face can muster.

VICTOR
Watch me. Reed had his chance. You
can't help them any more than I can.

Beat. She takes a step toward the door. Not sure what to do.

SUE
I can try.

With one final glare, she bolts from the room.

INT. SPACE STATION - AIRLOCK DOOR - SAME TIME

Reed bites his lip. Thinks. He decides.

REED
Victor's right. Johnny, get to the
command center. Close the shields.

JOHNNY
What about you?

One look from Reed tells Johnny, he won't leave without Ben.
Johnny eyes Ben, steels his courage. He's not going either.

JOHNNY
(to Ben)
Come on big guy, you can do it!

INT. SPACE STATION COMMAND CENTER - DAY

Victor watches the shields slide down. Alone. An island.

AUTOMATED VOICE
Event threshold in thirty seconds.

INT. SPACE STATION - CORRIDOR - SAME TIME

Sue races down the hall. Not panicked. With determination.

EXT. SPACE STATION AIR LOCK - DAY

The exterior air lock door slides open. In agonizing,
weightless slow motion Ben reaches to haul himself inside.

The leading edge of the cloud hits: Ben is pelted by a hissing
mass of space dust, splattering his suit with orange stains.
Larger particles, small pellets, pepper him. Ben hauls himself
in the last few feet by pulling on his tether.

INT. SPACE STATION AIR LOCK/COMMAND CENTER - DAY

AUTOMATED VOICE
Event threshold in ten seconds. TEN...

Johnny punches controls to close the exterior airlock door...

Reed opens a first aid kit, grabs a thermo-elastic blanket...

INT. SPACE STATION - COMMAND CENTER/OBSERVATION DECK - SAME

Clutching the diamond ring, Victor stands defiantly. Showing
absolutely no concern for the others. Interested only in the
event itself. Lights and equipment FALL, CRASHING around
him.

A control panel EXPLODES in Victor's face. He jumps back,
and into the falling equipment. Collapses under the weight.

INT. SPACE STATION - AIR LOCK - SAME TIME

Sue rounds a corner, sees Reed and Johnny.

SUE
Johnny! Reed!

AUTOMATED VOICE
FIVE... FOOOOUUUR...

SLOW MOTION: Everyone frozen in position as:

-- JOHNNY is hit with sparks of flame from a control panel. --
REED REACHES out for Ben and the airlock door. -- VAPOR STREAM
pours down on Sue from a blown gasket. -- THE SPACE DUST
burns into Ben's skin.

SLOW MOTION: Just BEFORE the exterior air-lock door closes,
a SINGLE PARTICLE zips through the narrowing gap and hits
Ben in the back, ripping through his suit. The exterior door
shuts and seals. The station loses all power. DARKNESS.

EXT. SPACE STATION - DAY

As quickly as it came, the cloud passes on and whirls away,
leaving the space station intact. Power quietly flickers on.

Silence. Time resumes. All four pick up exactly where they
left off, unaware of anything that just happened to them.

INT. SPACE STATION COMMAND CENTER - DAY

Victor emerges from the rubble. He stands, checks his body.
A few scrapes, nothing serious. A thin, throbbing CUT on his
head. He touches the wound, but it is not bleeding.

INT. SPACE STATION AIR LOCK - DAY

Reed and Johnny scramble to open the interior air lock door.
Sue joins them, as they pull Ben in. They try to remove his
helmet. We don't see his face, but he's clearly unconscious.

REED
He's not responsive --

JOHNNY
Ben! Ben!

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

A BLACK SCREEN:

JOHNNY'S VOICE
Ben, wake up! Wake up!

SUBJECTIVE CAMERA, BEN'S POV: The blurry image of Johnny
comes slowly into focus, standing beside a hospital bed.

BEN (O.S.)
Where... where am I?

JOHNNY
Back on Earth. Victor's medical
facility... We're in quarantine.

BEN (O.S.)
Reed?... Sue?

JOHNNY
They're fine. Everybody else... is
fine.

Johnny looks away, as if he can't bear to lay eyes on him.

BEN (O.S.)
What's wrong with me?

JOHNNY
I swear to you they've done everything
humanly possible. The best plastic
surgeons in the world, Ben. You had
the best --

BEN (O.S.)
Give me a mirror...

Johnny picks up a hand mirror on the bed table before Ben
can reach it, reluctant to give it to him.

JOHNNY
They said that's not such a good
idea, the shock alone could --

BEN (O.S.)
Give me the god damn mirror!

Ben grabs it from him. Then slowly raises it to look and see
that... except for some serious stubble, Ben's totally normal.

JOHNNY
Unfortunately, the doctors just
couldn't do anything to fix your
face!

He cackles as he heads for the door. Ben heaves the mirror
at him, breaking it into hundreds of pieces. He turns to the
side-table, and grabs that picture of DEBBIE. It calms him.

EXT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - ESTABLISHING - DAY

A modern facility of glass and stone, nestled in the forest.
In stark contrast to the lush greenery surrounding it.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND HOSPITAL CORRIDOR/SUE'S ROOM - DAY

Reed walks down the hall. His hair is GRAYING at the temples.
He passes Johnny, who is smiling, still enjoying his joke on
Ben. Johnny slows, looking at Reed's hair.

JOHNNY
Nice 'do. Going for the "grandpa"
look?

Reed passes a mirror, slowing, seeing his gray hairs. He
keeps going. He passes a partially open door. He stops when
he catches a glimpse of Sue asleep in bed. He sees a vase of
flowers. He grabs a couple lilies, and enters.

But Reed sees... the room is already FILLED with expensive
flowers. All from VICTOR. Reed is trumped once again.

A DOCTOR writes on Sue's chart. A wall TV plays a press
conference with Victor, outside the FACILITY. He looks worse
for wear. A few hairs out of place, and a small BANDAGE on
his face. We PUSH INTO the press conference --

REPORTER #1
You've been accused in the past of
moving science a little too fast --

VICTOR
Accused by who? My competitors?

REPORTER #2
But surely this accident gives you
pause --

VICTOR
Danger is always part of discovery.
What would have happened if Ben
Franklin never went out in a storm?
Without risk, there's no reward.

REPORTER #3
So where's the reward? You promised
a cure-all.

Victor pauses. For the first time. Just a flicker.

VICTOR
And you'll have it. I've never come
up short. And I'm not going to start
now.

REPORTER #2
So you're still taking VDI public --

VICTOR
Yes, of course. I've never been more
confident in the compan--

Reed mutes the television.

REED
How's she doing?

DOCTOR
Stable. Vitals are strong.

Reed takes the clipboard, looks for himself.

REED
Blood panels show no irradiation.
Good. You'll step up this protocol,
every --

DOCTOR
Four hours. We know what we're
doing... One more day of observation,
then you're all cleared.

The Doctor takes his clipboard, and walks out. Reed steps to
Sue, with the drooping flowers in his hand. Quiet:

REED
Sue... I want to tell you... I'm...

WHOOSH. A NURSE rolls in with a tray bearing ten more
extravagant bouquets. Reed looks resigned. He walks out.

REED
She's allergic to orchids. Put that
Amaryllis Apapathos by her bed. The
African lilies? They're her favorites.

Reed exits, dropping his two wilted lilies into the trash.

Sue opens one eye, as the big lilies land by the bed.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

A SEXY NURSE wheels a testing station into Johnny's room.
He's stripped down to Calvins, changing into a ski outfit.

SEXY NURSE
And where do we think we're going?

JOHNNY
I don't know if "we've" noticed, but
the sickest runs this side of the
Alps are right outside that window --

NURSE
I've noticed... But doctor's orders,
you're not allowed to leave until we --

JOHNNY
Finish the tests, I know -- could
you give me a hand with this zipper?

NURSE
You know this is not a ski resort.

JOHNNY
Not yet.

Johnny opens the cardboard box, revealing a colorful
fiberglass object the size of a briefcase. In the blink of
an eye, he unfolds it into a LONG SNOWBOARD.

JOHNNY
Luckily grandma still sends care
packages.

The nurse pops a thermometer in his mouth to shut him up.

NURSE
You are trouble.

JOHNNY
(thermometer in his
mouth)
Brubbles my Triddle Name.

They both pay more attention to his zipper than the digital
read-out: it runs right up past 98.6, then accelerates fast.

SEXY NURSE
You're hot!

JOHNNY
So are you!

SEXY NURSE
I mean, you feel a little feverish.

JOHNNY
I've never felt better in my life.
When do you get off work?

SEXY NURSE
My shift ends at four, but I couldn't --

JOHNNY
Meet me at 4:01, top of the run.
That'll give you a minute to freshen
up.

He hands her the thermometer, a quick kiss and he's out the
door. The machine beeps: Johnny's temperature is 209 DEGREES.

EXT. VON DOOM COMPOUND HOSPITAL PATIO - DAY

Ben finds Reed on a patio with a panoramic view. Reed works
at a laptop computer.

BEN
How long was I out?

REED
Three days. I was worried about you.
How are you feeling?

BEN
Solid.

Ben can see Reed doesn't look too solid.

BEN
How you doing?

Reed shakes his head, looking back at his screen.

REED
I don't know. I just keep going over
and over the numbers.

BEN
Reed. Even you can't compute every
little thing.

REED
I should have done more, run more
tests --

Ben gets closer, pushing down Reed's computer screen.

BEN
It was a freak of nature. Last I
checked, you don't have a crystal
ball. Let it go.

Reed considers. But he can't let it go. He opens his computer
back up, returning to work. Ben shakes his head, looks out
at the view. His eyes catch on something, wheels turning.

BEN
You go through something like this,
makes you appreciate having the right
woman in your life.

REED
Yeah, you and Debbie and perfect --

BEN
Reed, I'm not talking about Debbie.

Reed follows Ben's eyes to a lower level patio: SUE.

REED
What? Come on. She's got a good thing
with Victor --

BEN
I'm sorry, did that cosmic-bath loosen
your screws?

REED
He's smart, powerful, successful --

BEN
Well maybe you should date him.

Reed looks at Ben, resigned.

REED
Ben. He'll give her the life she
deserves. She ended up with the right
guy. Things worked out for the best.

Reed steps away. Ben stands alone, an idea sparking.

BEN
Do I have to do everything myself?

INT. HELICOPTER/EXT. MOUNTAIN SUMMIT - DAY

The chopper hovers over this pristine peak. JOHNNY and his
NURSE sit in the chopper-bay, prepping their ski gear.
Johnny's customized snowboard has wild, acrylic patterns.

His Nurse wears a hot pink cat-suit, her skis dangling out.
Their bodies are close: a sexy, competitive flirtation. They
look down at a death-defying black diamond run.

JOHNNY
Me like-y.

SEXY NURSE
Stay right. Left is trouble.

JOHNNY
I though we went over this.

SEXY NURSE
Last one down springs for room
service.

She pulls down her goggles, jumps out. Johnny drops out after
her, hitting the snow. He smolders: literally. The snow bank
behind him sizzles and starts to melt.

He takes off after her and the chase is on:

EXT. BLACK DIAMOND RUN - DAY

The Nurse knows every inch of the trail, slicing expertly in
and out of the trees through deep powder. Johnny's a speed
freak, maximizing velocity, closing the gap between them.

Ghostly FLAMES shoot off his hair: his ski cap catches fire,
flies off. Jets of fire knife through the back of his jacket.

The Nurse looks back: In a burst of speed, Johnny draws even.
She looks over and sees the flames shooting out behind him...

SEXY NURSE
You're on fire!

JOHNNY
Not this again --

SEXY NURSE
No: You're ON FIRE!

Johnny sees his gloves are burning, flicks them off in alarm.
His body SHUDDERS: the back of his ski suit catches on fire.
A burst of flame launches him down the slope like a rocket.

Nurse loses concentration, falls. Johnny races away like a
missile, screaming in exhilaration. He looks back -- no nurse.

He tries to put out his flaming clothes, and accidentally
VEERS to the LEFT. He fails to notice the giant CHASM in
front of him. He faces forward and...

SCREEAAMMS! LAUNCHING off the cliff, LEGS FLAILING, trying
to catch ground. FLAMES begin to TRAIL his body as he FALLS
towards the rocks below. He tries to will his body away.

Instead, his body becomes engulfed in flame. He is a HUMAN
TORCH! And for a moment he HOLDS THE AIR -- the fire giving
him some kind of... LIFT. He maneuvers just over the rocks,
almost making a 90 degree turn.

He looks back at the rocks in disbelief. But the lift doesn't
last long. He quickly CRASHES, landing HARD into a snowbank.

He opens his eyes; tries to move but can't. He's trapped
under snow and ice. With all his strength, he tries to move,
NO DICE. Panic sets in. His eyes go wide as the snow around
quickly begins to melt. Johnny is on fire, and within seconds
he's sitting in a small POND, steam rising from the water.

The nurse races toward the steam. Scared, panicked. She finds
Johnny... smiling, sitting naked in an impromptu hot tub,
staring at his hands. His body. Exhilarated.

JOHNNY
Care to join me?

She smiles and unzips. The FLAMES DISSOLVE TO... CANDLES IN --

EXT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - VICTOR'S OFFICE - DAY

On an expansive parapet with a billion-dollar view, Victor
prepares a romantic dinner-setting as his staff scurry about.
He checks every fork and knife, with a slightly manic energy.

VICTOR
How's the IPO?

LEONARD
Stable. We're looking at low twenties.
It's a good number, considering the
fallout from --

VICTOR
Reed's disaster. You know, I half-
think he did this to me on purpose.

LEONARD
Sir, I'm sure he wouldn't put himself --

But Victor is on to the next thought, always strategizing.

VICTOR
Get me on the AM shows, Larry King,
cover of the Journal...
(staring into silver
tray)
I've got to do something about this
scar. Make sure they only shoot my
right side.

LEONARD
Actually, uh, people seem to think
the scar "humanizes" you.

VICTOR
And that's a good thing?

Victor looks at the scar, enraged by this defect. It glistens
in the silver tray. His eyes are bloodshot, sleepless.

LEONARD
You know, maybe you should get some
rest --

VICTOR
Later. First, I've got some unfinished
business. A deal that needs closing...

Leonard looks at the table, the lavish spread. A beat.

LEONARD
Sir, I've always wondered... Why
Sue? You could have any woman in the
world but --

VICTOR
That's why. Because I could have any
other woman... You know, when they
asked Caesar "why England," he said,
"because it's not mine."

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND DINING HALL - LATE AFTERNOON

Two dozen EMPLOYEES sit and eat. Others serve themselves at
the buffet. Ben and Sue walking into the dining hall --

SUE
I can only stay for one drink, Ben.
I've got to meet with Victor.

BEN
Wouldn't want to keep Vic waiting.

They turn a corner and find Reed, entering by another door.

BEN
Hey Reed, what are you doing here?
(before he can answer)
Great, why don't you join us?

He quickly shepherds the two of them toward a quiet table.
Ben's stomach GROWLS; so loud that they all can hear it.

BEN
God, I'm starving. Gonna hit the
buffet.

Ben's stomach growls again, even louder this time.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND DINING HALL - EVENING

The sun is long gone, and so are most of the diners. The
room is darker, more romantic. Ben finishes the last shrimp
on his plate, pushes it away, belches prodigiously.

BEN
Pardon me...

Sue and Reed stare at him. Ben's stomach growls again.

REED
Are you alright?

BEN
I think I need to lie down. Bad
shrimp.

This was Ben's plan, but he really isn't feeling well,
unsteady when he walks away. He looks down at his stomach.

BEN
Really bad shrimp.

ANGLE: Fireplace. Sue looks gorgeous in the light. A beat. A
long beat. Reed doesn't know where to start with this woman.

REED
Feeling better?

SUE
Yes, thanks.

REED
That's good. That's uh... good.

SUE
You always had a way with words.
(an awkward beat)
I should be getting back.

Sue gets up to leave. Exasperated, Reed tries to think of
something, anything, to say.

REED
I'm really happy for you and Victor.

She slows down, looking at him. She was hoping for more.

SUE
You're happy for me and Victor.

REED
I can tell you guys are enjoying
what was the best part of our
relationship --

SUE
Which was?

REED
Passion.

We see surprise on Sue's face, and...

REED
For science.

SUE
(frustrated)
You are such a dork, Reed... You
never got it and never will unless
it's explained to you in quantum
physics.

As if triggered by her emotion, the fireplace light around
her BENDS. The flames flicker in a ghostly breeze.

REED
What? What did I say?

She looks more disappointed than angry.

SUE
It's never what you say. It's what
you don't say. What you don't do...

She lets that hang. A lot of history here. Quiet, hurt --
she wants Reed to fight for her, to show some emotion.

REED
I... I... I just wanted to --

As Sue's emotions swirl, she slowly... disappears.

SUE
It's been two years, and all you can
say is you're happy for me and some
other guy...
(standing up, hurt)
You know, Victor may be a lot of
things, but at least he's not afraid
to fight for what he wants...
(Reed looks down)
And it's nice to be wanted sometimes.
To be heard... seen... Reed, look at
me.

He looks up... but all that's left of her is the blush on
her cheek and her bewitching eyes. He drops his fork, shocked.

REED
Uh, Sue...? I can't.

SUE
What? What do you mean you --

REED
Sue... look at your hands.

She raises her hands, but we don't see them. We only see a
medical waistband... floating. Her watch... floating. Her
clothes appear to be suspended in mid-air.

Sue is invisible. She shrieks and gets up -- knocking a GLASS
off the table...

SLOW MOTION: The glass flies off the table, tumbling... Reed
instinctively reaches for the bottle: his arm stretches two
feet out of his sleeve -- grabs it just before it hits --

Then snaps back into place. Reed stares at his arm in
disbelief. Sue's eyes widen as well. The rest of Sue
reappears. They look at each other: mutual alarm.

JOHNNY (O.S.)
You guys will not believe what just
happened!

They look up to see JOHNNY in the doorway, NAKED except for
the nurse's PINK PARKA wrapped around his midsection.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - VICTOR'S OFFICE - EARLY EVENING

CLUNK. The candles burn low on the table. Victor strides
out, heading for the door. He runs his hand through his hair
to comb some strays. A CLUMP comes off in his fingers. He
PAUSES. He steps to a mirror, stares at his hair. His SCAR.

It is longer than the bandage now (as if it SPREAD). Victor
peels back the bandage, and sees the scar is bluish-gray.
Deep, unhealthy, maybe infected...

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - HALLWAY - EARLY EVENING

DOUBLE DOORS burst open. Reed, Sue, and Johnny urgently walk.

SUE
It has to be the cloud. It's
fundamentally altered our DNA.

REED
Let's not jump to conclusions, we
need a massive amount of evidence
before making that leap.

Reed glances over his shoulder. He stares. Sue follows his
gaze to see: Johnny's FINGERTIPS are on fire. He SNAPS his
fingers. They GO OUT. He's totally unharmed.

JOHNNY
Now what is up with that?

REED
(deadpan)
The cloud has fundamentally altered
our DNA.

JOHNNY
Cool. What'd it do to you guys?

SUE
Apparently I can disappear.

JOHNNY
Please tell me you go silent too.

Only one thing on Reed's mind --

REED
We have to find Ben.

EXT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - OUTSIDE BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

Johnny snaps his fingers -- which generate small explosive
bursts of flame. He turns it on and off, like the "CLAPPER."

JOHNNY
Flame on, flame off. Flame on, flame
off --

SUE
Johnny.

He does it again. Flame on, flame off.

SUE
Stop it.

JOHNNY
Okay, "mom."

Reed's about to knock on Ben's door when he hears the banging,
moaning and pleading inside. Johnny smiles.

JOHNNY
Oh, you dawg you. Better not be my
nurse!

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

REED (O.S.)
Ben, are you there?

A creepy rippling movement begins beneath the sheet and
gradually intensifies, reflected in the fabric's surface:
the contours of Ben's body are changing, inflating, growing
rough and craggy. SOUND of grinding heavy rocks.

SUE (O.S.)
Open up Ben, we need to talk.

It all stops. A beat, then all four legs of the bed give way
and it crashes to the floor. Under the covers, he groans in
pain, and his voice is DEEPER, GRAVELY, but definitely CLEAR:

BEN
LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - OUTSIDE BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

Reed decides they can't wait any longer. He kneels to the
floor. He concentrates, not sure if it will work...
Suddenly, his arm STRETCHES, THIN ENOUGH TO CREEP UNDER THE
DOORJAMB.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

Reed's arm wriggles under the door. It bends upward, swiping
clumsily, until it finally grabs the knob. Rubbery fingers
find the latch and unlock the door.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - OUTSIDE BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

Reed focuses, and pulls. His arm snakes out from under the
door and snaps back into place. His flesh and bones reforming
before their eyes. Johnny stares at Reed.

JOHNNY
Ewwwwwwww. That is disgusting.

They hear a tremendous SMASH from inside the room.

INT. VON DOOM COMPOUND - BEN'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING

They open the door. The room is trashed. Every stick of
furniture smashed to splinters.

REED
...Ben?

Their eyes adjust; there's a huge hole where the window used
to be. They rush to it. Looking out they see SOMETHING LARGE
in the distance, running away.

JOHNNY
What is that thing?

SUE
I think that thing is Ben.

Reed looks out, emotions roiling. Is that his best friend...?
Suddenly, Victor comes around the corner (bandage bigger).

VICTOR
What's going on?

SUE
Victor, are you feeling alright?

He considers, but never shows weakness. He nods.

VICTOR
Just a little banged up. A couple
scrapes. Why?

REED
Ben did this.

VICTOR
Ben did this?

REED
He's had some kind of... reaction to
exposure from the cloud. And he's
not the only one.

SUE
We need to find him.

Victor redirects his attention to Sue.

SUE
Victor, I'm sorry I --

VICTOR
(cold)
Just find him.

Victor strides off, leaving the others.

JOHNNY
Anybody know where the big guy's
going?

We PUSH IN on a picture of Debbie lying on the floor, Reed
knows exactly where Ben is going.

REED
He's going home.

EXT. TRAIN YARD - NIGHT

A view from Brooklyn: Manhattan glistens in the distance.
CAMERA MOVES down to A TRAIN YARD, where we find empty cargo
trains. We PUSH IN on the main track, where...

A CARGO TRAIN has just stopped. We hear a cargo DOOR slide
open, then WHUMP! Big FEET hit the ground. Someone, or
someTHING barrels into the night.

EXT. BIG & TALL SHOP - NIGHT

A locked storefront on Flatbush Ave. SOUND of breaking glass.

INT. BIG & TALL SHOP - NIGHT

SERIES OF SHOTS: Ben tries on clothes, shoes. Jackets rip,
shoes split. He needs an extra extra extra large.

EXT. PAY PHONE - NIGHT

A HUGE FIGURE is huddled in shadow. It's Ben.

CLOSE ON: The dial pad. Big fingers try to push keys but
they're too large. Ben tries for a few seconds, getting more
and more frustrated. He manages to press "0" with his pinky.

BEN
Hello, Operator?

Ben looks up the street, into the 2nd story window of a
modest, working-class home. His eyes go soft when he sees
Debbie grab the phone.

BEN
Deb... It's me. I need you to step
out front.

DEBBIE
Out front? You home, baby? I got a
surprise for you.

He blinks hard. Sad, dark.

BEN
I got a surprise for you too.

EXT. BROOKLYN HOUSE - NIGHT

Debbie steps out. There is "WELCOME HOME" sign over the door.
She looks out. The wind blows softly. Something shifts in
the darkness. Debbie pulls her robe tighter.

DEBBIE
Ben?

BEN (O.S.)
Don't come any closer for a sec.
This is gonna be kind of a shock...
You remember when we said "together
forever no matter what"?

DEBBIE
Baby, you're scaring me.

A hanging beat. And Ben... steps into the light, where we
SEE HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME: he's HUGE, easily twice the size
he once was, and AN ORANGY ROCKY SURFACE COVERS HIS ENTIRE
BODY.

Debbie sees him. Fear washes over her, not sure what to think.
He reaches out, a little tentative. She flinches back.

DEBBIE
Oh my G-g-g. What did you... do to
Ben?

BEN
Deb, it's me. It's still me.

He reaches out. She recoils. It's too much for her. Tears
swell in her eyes. Covering her mouth, she backs away.

He takes a step closer. She backs away faster, tripping over
her robe, falling into the street. A car screeches to a halt.
Ben instinctively steps out to help, but she scurries back.

DEBBIE
Don't... don't... DON'T TOUCH ME!

Her shout wakes NEIGHBORS. Lights flicker on. Ben knows he
has to go. He looks at Debbie, sensing this is the last time
he'll see her. She trembles, terrified. His eyes go moist.

BEN
I love you, Deb.

With that, he turns away. The "WELCOME HOME" sign flutters,
falls to the ground. A tragic tableau. As more lights go on
around him, Ben picks up his pace, speeding into the dawn.

INT. VICTOR'S COMPOUND OFFICE - DAY

Victor packs a monogrammed Armani briefcase: "VDM" emblazoned
on a gold plate. Leonard waits not-so-patiently.

VICTOR
Make sure you find Ben, bring him
back here. And keep it quiet. I don't
need this to hit the press.

LEONARD
Yes sir. You've got the Mayor at
eight, then a nine-thirty interview
with the Journal --

VICTOR
Front page?

LEONARD
Top left, like you asked.
(a smile)
Today Wall Street. Tomorrow, who
knows... maybe Washington.

Victor turns to Leonard, disappointed with him.

VICTOR
Leonard. Think bigger.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - DAY

We swoop toward this epic monument. On a steel girder above
the road, we see... a STATUE. BEN. He sits on the edge of
the beams, staring down at the river below, brooding,
muttering.

BEN
A few days in space, it'll be great,
what's the worst that could happen?

A PIGEON flutters past him, and drops a white gooey gift on
his shoulder. Ben just glares up at the heavens.

BEN
Perfect. Thanks.

He hears the sound of someone SOBBING. He turns to see... a
distraught BUSINESSMAN with a briefcase. The man drops his
case, which PLUMMETS hundreds-of-feet into the RIVER.

The Businessman looks out, ready to jump. He doesn't see Ben
(or doesn't realize Ben is not a statue).

BEN
You think you got trouble? Take a
good look, pal, how bad could it be?

The Businessman looks at Ben, terrified. Ben steps forward.

BEN
Okay, easy there, buddy.

Backpedaling, the man SLIPS, FALLING toward the ROADWAY! His
arms flail, grabbing a narrow beam -- his fingers hold tight
while his legs thrash over speeding traffic. Cars and trucks
SKIM right underfoot. Ben shakes his head.

BEN
You had to choose my spot, didn't
you?

Ben steps out to help, but... his WEIGHT BENDS the beam! The
Businessman LOSES HIS GRIP! He FALLS TO THE ROAD, landing
hard on the highway! A few PEDESTRIANS see Ben. They point.

Ben looks up, deer in headlights. He sees a massive TRUCK
bearing down on the Businessman.

BEN
This is really not my day.

Ben DROPS to the street. WHOOMPF! He lands in front of the
Businessman, SWEEPS him out of the way with one arm, and
turns to the oncoming 18 WHEELER CAB.

The DRIVER slams his brakes, eyes wide. The truck SWERVES,
but cannot stop! Time slows to syrup, as Ben looks a little
scared. He shuts his eyes, and...

SHOULDER-BLOCKS the INCOMING TRUCK! A football move. The
truck BUCKLES, POPPING a WHEELIE, CRUMPLING all the way to
the windshield! It looks like a metal car-compactor.

The truck SWERVES hard, its tail SMASHING into steel girders.
CARS SCREECH, SWERVE, SLAMMING INTO EACH OTHER, CAUSING A
FOUR-LANE TRAFFIC ACCIDENT! Windows shatter, fires flicker.
One of the cars in an NYPD CRUISER. COPS clamber out.

EXT. CAB ON HIGHWAY - DAY

Reed, Johnny, and Sue sit in the back. They see the action
on the bridge. Reed and Sue lock eyes, sensing the worst.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - DAY

Ben stands in the middle of the chaos, staring at the
destruction. He sees the tow-truck DRIVER bleeding, trapped
in his cab. Ben moves to this burning hunk of steel.

He SWIPES through the shattered window, and PUNCHES the
airbag, POPPING it like a kid's balloon. He tries to grab
the seat-belt, but his fingers are TOO BIG. He struggles.

BEN
A little help here?! You wanna hit
that button, sir?

The driver is too woozy. Ben can't get to the button.
Frustrated, he simply TEARS OFF THE DOOR, and RIPS THE
DRIVER'S SEAT right out of the cab! COPS round the corner.
They see Ben holding onto the Driver. They raise their guns.

COP
FREEZE! PUT THE MAN AND THE SEAT
DOWN!

Ben looks at the cops. PEDESTRIANS stare, point. He realizes
how this must look -- a monster holding a bloody man in hand.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - APPROACH - DAY

At the back of the traffic jam, cars SCREECH to stops. The
whole bridge is FULL of bumper-to-bumper traffic. We PUSH
TOWARD one car: three doors pop open, and out come...

REED, JOHNNY, SUE. They look through smoke and mayhem to
see... their first full look at Ben. Reed stands gutpunched.

JOHNNY
Not even Ben deserves that.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - DAY

Ben puts the seat down, with the Driver on it. He lunges
behind a truck. The cops try to follow, but FLAMES push them
back. Ben lurches away, head down, self-conscious.

He tries to hide from ONLOOKERS around him and PEDESTRIANS
on walkways overhead. He wants to escape, but hears SCREAMING
MOTORISTS. He grits his teeth, and moves to help them.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - GRIDLOCK - DAY

Reed, Sue, and Johnny race toward the flames. All other people
head in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION. BRIDGE POLICE herd the crowd
away from the accident.

BRIDGE COP
Back! We're evac-ing the bridge.

Reed, Sue, and Johnny slow down, swap glances.

SUE
What now? Reed...? What do we do?

MOVE IN ON REED. A first test of leadership. But he is not a
leader. Not yet. Sue gets closer to him.

SUE
Ben's out there. Let's go get him.

BRIDGE COP
Maybe you didn't hear me. Those cars
are gonna blow sky high, any second.

REED
Look, we've got a friend out there
in trouble. We need to get to him
before --

BRIDGE COP #2
Nobody gets past this point.

A hard beat. Reed signals Sue with a look, a nod.

SUE
What?

REED
(mutters)
We need to get past them.

He motions to her body. She understands. She concentrates,
and starts to turn invisible.

BRIDGE COP #1
What the hell is this? A magic show?

But her clothes don't go invisible. Beat. Reed mutters:

REED
Sue. Your clothes. Lose them.

SUE
What...?
(realizes)
Oh.

She unbuttons her blouse. Not thrilled with the idea. She
wriggles out of her pants. Down to her skivvies. She reaches
back to undo her bra... momentarily loses concentration and
becomes visible. The sight of Sue in her undies grabs the
COPS' attention. Everyone watches, stunned.

The realization that she's visible hits her like a ton of
bricks. Cops are transfixed. So is Reed.

JOHNNY
This is wrong in so many ways.

REED
You've been working out.

SUE
Shut up.

Sue takes a deep breath. Closes her eyes. Focuses. Nothing
happens. She's embarrassed and furious.

SUE
Any more ideas, Reed? Maybe you should
strip down next, see how it feels to
have fifty people staring --

...and she DISAPPEARS. Entirely. Undies float. Jaws drop.

REED
Uh, Sue?

She stops ranting. Realizes she's gone invisible.

SUE (INVISIBLE)
Oh. Well then...

The undies drop. The cops stare open-mouthed. They turn to
look at Reed, astonished. He sheepishly shrugs his shoulders.

JOHNNY
I'm gonna need serious therapy.

A beat. She walks away. The cops watch her, gaping. By the
time they turn back around, Reed and Johnny are gone,
disappearing into the clouds of smoke.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - DAY

A news CHOPPER flies around the bridge, fighting for the
best angle on the action.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - ACCIDENT - DAY

Reed races through wreckage. He tries to see over a big
TRUCK, and his neck STREEETCHES!

He finally sees... BEN. Reed wraps around a car, and... BOO!
His face snakes right in front of Ben. Ben jumps.

BEN
What the --!

REED
Ben. Are you okay?

BEN
Am I okay?! You wanna explain that?!

He motions to Reed's neck. Then to his own body:

BEN
Or this?! What the hell am I? 'Cause
I sure ain't Ben anymore.

Reed opens his mouth, but he has no answer. Not yet.

SUE (O.S.)
REED! BEN! LOOK OUT!

Ben spins, looking for Sue. He can't see her. But he does
see... A CAR INCHES AWAY, WITH GAS TANK FLAMING!

BOOOOM! The first car BLOWS! BOOOM!BOOOOM!BOOOOOM! Empty
cars BLOW in a chain-reaction. The flames are mushrooming!

Reed SWIPES his ARMS OUT, holding people back. His arms
FLATTEN to form a barricade -- FACES INDENT his skin.

FLAMES lash out. A pack of attractive YOUNG WOMEN scream.
Johnny LEAPS toward them. His feet LEAVE THE GROUND, giving
him extra lift. He SPINS, lands, and embraces the women,
SHIELDING them from flames which burn up his back. He looks
the ladies up and down, and gives a cheesy smile.

Sue SCREAMS. She puts her hands up (a normal reflex). The
air seems to RIPPLE around her hands, like FORCE-FIELDS.

She looks at them, surprised, confused. Her invisible fields
SPIRAL OUT, partially CONTAINING the blast. But the flames
hurtle closer. She fights the pressure. Blood trickles from
her nose. Just as the white hot blast is about to hit her...

Sue is dressed again. Visible. She SCREAMS, and PUSHES THE
FORCE DOWN INTO THE ROAD! She collapses, as the blast deflects
off the street and into...

An oncoming FIRETRUCK! BOOOOM! The firetruck is KNOCKED OFF
THE GROUND, SLEWING SIDEWAYS. Brakes scream. Its tail slashes
out, PUNCHING through the guard-rail.

THE BACK OF THE TRUCK DANGLES OUT, HUNDREDS OF FEET ABOVE
THE WATER! FIREMEN hang off the back and sides. The truck
TEETERS, falling! Ben wastes no time. He GRABS onto the front
of the truck, just as it goes off the side!

He DIGS his heels into the ground, but his feet DRAG across
the concrete, digging grooves into the street.

ON THE DANGLING FIRETRUCK: FIREMEN climb out, clawing toward
the bridge. Their truck SWINGS. Bits and pieces tumble down
at them -- a hose, an axe, a helmet. All deadly now. The
HANGING LADDER swoops down, with men RIDING ON IT!

Ben SCREAMS! STRAINING with all his might. Ben SCREAMS! His
muscles ripple, and... he takes his first step... back.
Another scream. Another step. Another. Another. Epic, painful.

He is pulling the truck back onto the bridge, inch by inch.
His footsteps THUD. With monumental effort, he levels the
truck. Firemen scurry over hoses and ladders, some climbing
over Ben.

Reed tends to Sue who has fainted from her effort. Ben steps
back from the truck and slumps to the street exhausted. Wary
cops close in to cover him with weapons, but...

The FIREMEN slowly begin to APPLAUD. The crowd of onlookers
joins in as well. Sue, Reed, and Johnny seem surprised,
touched by the reaction. But Ben seems uncomfortable.

Firemen step forward to offer Reed a couple of their coats;
he hands one to Johnny and uses the other to cover Sue.

EXT. BROOKLYN BRIDGE - DAY

Ben sees a familiar face in the masses: DEBBIE. Ben steps
toward her, but she stops him with a look. She places
something on the ground and runs off into the crowd.

Ben sees something GLISTENING on the ground. He stoops over
to pick up... her ENGAGEMENT RING. His big fingers can't
grip it. He tries in vain. Hopeless, pathetic. A beat. And...

A hand grabs the ring. It's Reed. Quiet, close.

REED
I swear to you, I will do everything
in my power until there is not a
breath left in me: you are going to
be Ben again.

Off the wounded look in Ben's eyes, wanting to believe him...

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - DAY

Victor sits with remote in hand, staring at his plasma TV.
ON THE TV: he sees a crowd of firemen applauding the new
Fantastic Four. For the first time they strike a heroic pose.
Leonard enters, with a phone in his hand.

LEONARD
Uh, sir... Larry King called, to
cancel.
(seeing the TV, a
beat)
Apparently, there's a bigger story.

Victor sees Reed put his arms around Sue as he covers her
with the jacket. And the penny drops: he's FURIOUS. As it
hits him, he feels something odd. He looks down at his hand...
at glints of gleaming METAL poking through flesh.

EXT./INT. EMERGENCY HOLDING AREA - DAY

An impromptu command center -- a series of police tents,
surrounded by EMERGENCY VEHICLES, NEWS VANS, FIRETRUCKS.

INT. EMERGENCY HOLDING AREA - TENT - DAY

Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny sit together, getting changed.
They get ready to go, but the CHIEF FIREMAN enters, stopping
them.

CHIEF FIREMAN
There's some folks outside, want to
talk to you.

REED
We're not going public with this.
We're scientists, not celebrities.

CHIEF FIREMAN
Too late, son.

He turns on a little TV MONITOR in the corner. NEWS FOOTAGE
plays on all stations, with the tagline: FANTASTIC FOUR.

CHIEF FIREMAN
That's what they're calling you. The
Fantastic Four.

JOHNNY
Nice.

Johnny heads for the exit.

SUE
Johnny, slow down. Let's think this
through, a second.

Johnny pauses. Rubs his chin once. And...

JOHNNY
Okay. Done thinking.

He runs out. Sue, Ben, and Reed swap glances, knowing Johnny
cannot be their spokesman. They take off after him, out to --

EXT. EMERGENCY HOLDING AREA - PRESS FIELD - DAY

CLICKCLICKCLICK! Fifty cameras flash. The field is full of
press. Our heroes freeze, shocked by the crowd.

Johnny eats up the attention. Ben turns, self-conscious.
Reed notices. The Chief Fireman turns to them.

CHIEF FIREMAN
So which one of you's the leader?

Johnny does not hesitate.

JOHNNY
That'd be me.

CHIEF FIREMAN
No seriously.

A beat. Sue and Ben turn to Reed. The Chief hands him a mic.

CHIEF FIREMAN
You're on, son. They all want a
statement.

All eyes go on Reed. He looks out, gulps hard. A long beat.

REED
Uh, during our recent mission to the
Von Doom space station, we were
exposed to as yet-unidentified
radioactive energy, most likely some
kind of nucleotide compoun--

Nobody came for a science class. A crush of questions
overwhelms Reed:

VARIOUS REPORTERS
What happened on the bridge? Does it
hurt to stretch? Were you really on
fire? Is it true that one of you can
fly?

JOHNNY
Working on it. And it's a lot harder --

SUE
We don't know much more than you do,
at this point. Which is why we will
be going directly to the lab, where
we can diagnose our symptoms and --

REPORTER #2
Symptoms? So it's like a disease?

Reed looks at Ben's face, feeling the guilt. Ben is lost in
thought, looking at Deb's ENGAGEMENT RING. Johnny leaps in.

JOHNNY
Symptoms? Please. If having powers
is a disease, then yeah we got it.
And we are gonna blow your minds.
There's a new day dawning. The day
of the Fantastic Four.

REPORTER #3
That thing doesn't look too fantastic.

The Reporter nods toward Ben. Ben's fists tighten, the sound
of rocks crushing together. Reed feels the pain.

REED
Ben Grimm is a genuine American hero
who's been through a terrible orde--

JOHNNY
What he's trying to say is: every
team needs a mascot...

Reporters laugh. Ben turns his head away. Reed burns.

REED
Look, we went up to space to find a
way to understand DNA, to cure
disease, save lives. Well, now it's
our DNA, our disease, our lives on
the line...
(a beat)
Thank you. No more questions.

Reed, Sue, and Ben get up to go. The press waits a beat,
then surges. Ben spins, holding up one finger. A giant.

BEN
Be nice.

The press step back, intimidated. Flashbulbs POP, and Ben's
FACE FREEZES. It goes BLACK-AND-WHITE on a NEW YORK POST in --

EXT. BANK - DAY

Establishing shot of a historic New York building.

INT. BANK - CONFERENCE ROOM - CONTINUOUS

BANKERS sit around a table. LAPTOPS hum. The lead banker is
power-broker NED CECIL. The men keep their eyes on Victor.

NED CECIL
Well, Victor, the bank would like to
congratulate you. On the fastest
freefall since the Depression. We
can't even give your stock away.

VICTOR
Ned, you know I can turn this around.

Ned motions to the paper, the picture of BEN.

NED CECIL
You promised a cure-all, and came
back with this. Who the hell's going
to invest in a biotech company that
turns its workers into circus freaks?

Victor's grip tightens around the table, and... the LAPTOPS
FLICKER, losing feeds.

Victor looks down at his hands -- a private beat (did I do
that?) He lets go of the table; screens go back to normal.

VICTOR
(pointed)
I really appreciate all your support.

NED CECIL
You've got a week, Victor. One week
to turn this around. Or we pull out...
(a beat)
This meeting is over.

Victor looks at him, blood boiling, and we CUT HARD TO --

INT. BANK - HALLWAY - DAY

Victor and Leonard stride out. Victor is writhing.

VICTOR
Goddamn book-keeper doesn't know
preferred stock from livestock.

Leonard is thinking all business.

LEONARD
Sir. Reed's comments at that press
conference killed us. How are we
going to turn this around?

Victor considers. His mind races, eyes narrow.

VICTOR
Very simple. I cure them. If I can
cure these freaks, then I can cure
anyone. What better way to restore
my reputation?

Leonard nods, impressed. Victor is a man in motion. As they
step into sunlight, we cut to... CLICKCLICKCLICK in --

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING - DAY

REPORTERS snap pictures. A POLICE CONVOY drives up, stopping
in front of a towering HIGH-RISE. Sue, Reed, and Johnny and
get out of a police-car. Ben steps out of a BIG PADDY-WAGON,
which immediately bounces back up to the normal axle position.

COPS hold back the surging press. Ben keeps his head down,
self-conscious. He passes Johnny, smiling for the cameras.

JOHNNY
Smile, Ben. They want to like you.
Give 'em your good side. Or your
less bad side.

Ben turns to a group of LITTLE KIDS. Stiff, tentative:

BEN
Uh... don't do drugs.

The kids FLINCH. Ben trudges on. Johnny smiles bright, doing
hand-signs for F4. Sue pulls him toward --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - LOBBY - DAY

The Fantastic Four enter. They are greeted by JIMMY
O'HOOLIHAN, an old-time doorman with a kind smile.

O'HOOLIHAN
Welcome back to the Baxter, Dr.
Richards. All that for you?

He motions to the flashing cameras outside.

REED
I'm afraid so...

He searches for the name. Sue steps up.

SUE
Jimmy. Good to see you again.

He smiles at Sue, then at Reed.

O'HOOLIHAN
Good to see you too... Don't worry,
sir. I know how crowded that head of
yours is.

REED
Any visitors while I was away?

O'HOOLIHAN
Just the usual. Told 'em you were
circling round outer space.

He opens a drawer full of LETTERS from the BANK. Reed looks
sheepish. He shuts the drawer, looks to Johnny and Sue.

REED
We had a tough year.

BEN
Yeah, nine years straight.

Reed looks at Ben. Thanks a lot. DING. Elevator doors open.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - ELEVATOR - DAY

They enter. Reed hits the top button, for the 20TH FLOOR.

JOHNNY
Twenty? From outside the place looks
a lot taller.

REED
Oh, it is.

The doors close, but... the ELEVATOR does not move. A beat.

JOHNNY
Either we're moving really fast...
or not at all.

A digital readout on the panel: EXCEED MAXIMUM WEIGHT. A
sign reads: MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 2000 pounds. They turn to Ben.

BEN
I'll take the stairs.

Doors open. He lumbers out. As the doors close behind him,
he looks back over his shoulder, locking eyes with Reed.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - ELEVATOR - DAY

The elevator rises. Reed roils with guilt.

SUE
How come Ben can't turn it on and
off like us?

REED
That's what we're here to find out.

SUE
If it happened to him, then it
could...

Happen to all of them. Reed nods softly.

JOHNNY
Wait. You mean there's chance we
could be full-on-24-7-fantastic?

SUE
Grow up, Johnny. You want to run
around on fire for the rest of your
life?

JOHNNY
Is that a trick question? C'mon, I
can't be the only one who thinks
this is cool.

Reed considers. But Sue cuts him short with a look.

DING! The elevator stops.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - ATRIUM - MOMENTS LATER

The elevator opens. They step out. They might be on the 20th
floor, but Reed owns the building from here to floor sixty.
It's a massive atrium, lit by skylights far above --

Reed leads them into another area filled with separate
"apartments" and all the amenities of home.

REED
We should stay here until we can
define the extent of our changes...

JOHNNY
This place is deluxe. You got cable?

REED
(hearing Ben's
FOOTSTEPS)
...and figure out how to reverse
them. Let me show you to your rooms.

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING - DAY

The press has died down, but there are still plenty of
cameras. A MAYBACH SEDAN rolls up. Victor emerges, wearing
sunglasses. This time, the press pay no attention to him. No
cameras flash. Victor tightens, and enters the building.

INT. SUE'S ROOM - DAY

Sue walks out of the bathroom in a robe, drying her hair.
She notices a familiar book on a shelf: a SCRAPBOOK.

She flips through it. It's filled with pictures of Reed and
his inventions -- a lot less fancy than Victor's multimedia
globe. She stops at a picture of her and Reed in COLLEGE.

A noise, and she turns, flinching slightly, surprised to
see... VICTOR. He smiles, standing at the door, watching
her.

VICTOR
God, I've been so worried about you.

She notices the scar on his head.

SUE
Victor, your scar --

VICTOR
I told you, I'm fine. It's you I'm
worried about.

SUE
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to --

VICTOR
Please, no apologies. I've arranged
for your things to be moved to one
of my condos. You'll have round-the
clock care.

He goes for her bag. But she stops him. A half beat.

SUE
Thank you, that's generous, but I
think I should stay here. With my
brother. Until we get a handle on
this.

Victor is not used to being rebuffed. He gives a thin smile.

VICTOR
Sue. I think you should let my doctors
have a look at you.

A tense beat. Standoff. Made more tense by --

REED (O.S.)
Victor! What are you doing here?

They turn to see Reed approaching, with files in hand.

VICTOR
I'm starting to wonder the same
thing... How much do you know about
what happened to you?

REED
Not much. We need to run tests to
see the extent of the damage.

Victor pauses. He looks at Sue, knowing she's here to stay.

VICTOR
Well, let me know if there is anything
I can do. We're all in this together
now.

Victor shakes Reed's hand. His GRIP is so tight that Reed's
fingers STRETCH. Victor lets go, and turns to Sue, who puts
her hand out. He smiles, and shakes. He heads off.

Reed looks at his hand. Shakes his wrist. He looks at Victor.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - HALL - DAY

Victor moves fast, holds tight to his anger. Reed catches
up.

REED
Victor wait... I just wanted to say,
I'm sorry the mission didn't go as
planned --

Victor suddenly WHEELS on Reed. Lights flicker.

VICTOR
Didn't go as planned? It was a
catastrophe. You ruined the lives of
four people --

REED
I ruined? With all due respect, I
told you to abort --

VICTOR
Abort? Reed, I put my company, my
name, billions of dollars on the
line, and I will not let you make me
look like a fool --

REED
Victor, if we could understand what
happened to us --

VICTOR
I don't want to understand it. This
isn't one of your science projects.
I just want to fix it. Fast!

Reed sees Victor's SCAR maybe growing. Lights dim.

VOICE (O.S.)
There a problem, Vic?

They turn to see... BEN down the hall, leaning in a doorway.
Victor tightens, looking at Ben's massive rock-hewn body.

VICTOR
No problem, Ben.

He turns back to Reed. Close, quiet. Lights flicker.

VICTOR
Just pay your goddamn electric bill,
and get to work on a cure.

Victor steps away, toward the elevator. He passes Ben, who
just smiles and waves "goodbye." Before Victor's finger taps
the down-button, the button lights up (as if the circuit
responded to him). Reed exhales, shaken. Victor steps into --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - ELEVATOR - DAY

The doors close, and Victor really LETS LOOSE. He SLAMS his
fist into a STEEL WALL. The wall BUCKLES, steel DENTING.

Victor shakes out his hand, and sees... a rippling METALLIC
SHELL under the skin. He stares at it in horror. The dark
surface pulsates with electric energy. What is he becoming...?

INT. BAXTER BUILDING LABS - DAY

Sue works the controls. Reed approaches Ben with an ELECTRODE
NEEDLE. He tries to stick the needle into Ben, but it SNAPS.

BEN
You got a chisel round here?

REED
If we're going to identify the source
of the mutation, we need to isolate
your recombinant DNA so we can
activate positional genomes.

Ben looks to Sue for translation.

SUE
We need to give you a physical, so
we know what got zapped.

BEN
Well why didn't you say so? You want
me to lift some weights or something?

Reed shakes his head. He approaches with an X-RAY MACHINE.

REED
No, just sit back. We have a good
sense of your strength from the
firetruck. We need to find the source
of your strength.

He turns on the X-ray machine. The graph shows SOLID ROCK.
The rays don't penetrate. Sue and Reed look confused.

BEN
How bad is it? You know I used to
smoke.

Reed grabs a BLOOD PRESSURE MACHINE, but the strap is way
too short to wrap around Ben's arm. Reed stands stumped. He
looks at his tray full of instruments. He picks up the little
rubber REFLEX-HAMMER. But it looks miniscule compared to
Ben.

Reed has an idea. He opens a drawer full of HARDWARE TOOLS.
He pulls of a real HAMMER. He approaches Ben.

REED
Okay, this might smart a little.

He taps Ben's knee lightly, and BEN'S LEG KICKS! SLAMMING
UP! RIGHT BETWEEN REED'S LEGS! The ultimate kick in the
crotch. Reed STRETCHES UP a few feet, then SNAPS BACK,
wincing.

REED
(high-pitched voice)
We'll... continue this later.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING LABS - DAY

From their second level control room, Reed and Sue observe
Johnny in an enclosed fire-proof chamber. Flames escape
through the vents of the chamber... he's fully torched!

Reed watches the read-out: it climbs from 2000 to 4000 degrees
Kelvin. They are essentially taking his temperature.

INSIDE THE CHAMBER: Johnny turns white hot, blinding to look
at: the chamber walls begin to glow red. Machines go haywire.

His feet even start to LIFT OFF THE GROUND, LEVITATING a
foot or two. He looks down, excited, burning hotter and
hotter.

REED
Back it down, Johnny!

JOHNNY
I can go hotter!

He won't stop. Reed pulls a switch on the wall. FOAM sprays
out of nozzles, dousing Johnny's flames. He stands there,
covered in thick FOAM. His body steams. So does his temper.

JOHNNY
You're really cramping my style here.

SUE
You were at 4000 Kelvin. Any hotter,
you're approaching supernova --

JOHNNY
Sweet.

SUE
That's the temperature of the sun.

REED
Not only could you kill yourself,
but you could set fire to Earth's
atmosphere and destroy all human
life as we know it.

JOHNNY
Gotcha. Okay. Supernova bad.

Reed looks at the control panels.

SUE
He cooked the equipment.

Frustrated, Reed looks at the smoking system. And we CUT TO --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - LAB - DAY

Reed and Ben sit in chairs, facing each other. A beat passes.
Ben taps his fingers on the chair, making small DENTS. Reed
looks down at his clipboard. A little awkward.

REED
Okay. I've uh, got some questions,
from Sue. That she thought might be
better coming from me... Can you,
you know, go to the bathroom... like
normal...

BEN
Yeah.
(a beat)
You don't wanna know the details.

REED
Ben, I'm afraid I've got to ask --

BEN
Not unless you want that clipboard
stretched up your --

REED
O-kay. We'll skip that question.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - LAB - DAY

Reed and Johnny now. Johnny exercises. Reed stands nearby.
Clipboard in hand.

REED
Is there something about flames?
About flaming, that you --

JOHNNY
What are you trying to say? Just
because I dress well and like to
dance --

REED
(confused)
What? No. I'm trying to figure out
why we each ended up with different
symptoms.

JOHNNY
Oh, well that's easy: I'm hot.
You're... well, you're a little limp.
Sue's easy to see through. And Ben's
always been a hardass.
(a beat)
Why aren't you writing this down?

Reed sighs. It's going to be a long process.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING LAB - DAY

Reed and Sue, tables turned: Reed observes her through a
prismatic device measuring light refraction. He "sees" her
through the device: lit up like some heavenly creature. He's
having a hard time concentrating. He focuses on his work.

REED
It's not "invisibility" per se. You're
bending the light around you with
some kind of malleable force field.
That's what you projected on the
Bridge.

SUE
What about you? You haven't eaten in
days. How come you're never on this
side of the microscope?

He tightens, uncomfortable with being center of attention.
She reaches for his arm, like a specimen. He pulls away, but
she sees a glimpse of BRUISES on his ARMS. She slows down.

SUE
Bruises... from the bridge?

He nods, rolls down his sleeves.

REED
Have you had any side-effects, from
your powers?

She considers. A little vulnerable.

SUE
I've had some headaches. Migraines.

A beat. Reed drops his eyes, makes a note, back to work.

REED
You should be able to bend light
around other objects, even people,
if you could control your emotional
state better --

SUE
Excuse me?

She is annoyed. Reed is oblivious.

REED
I'm saying, if you had a little more
self control, you could locate the
trigger. Can you remember the exact
emotions when --

SUE
Anger. Rage. Frustration.

REED
Okay. Is there any way to duplicate
that feeling? Some memory or...

SUE
(staring right at him)
I'm sure I can come up with something.

She looks at Reed, eyes narrow. She becomes invisible. As
she focuses on Reed -- and gets angry -- a small, clear FORCE
FIELD forms around her body. The force-field BENDS LIGHT
around a MICROSCOPE, which goes INVISIBLE. Reed steps out to
ask...

REED
How's that coming -- whoa --

The FORCE-FIELD shoots in all directions, knocking everything
over in a fifteen foot radius. Reed is thrown from his chair.

SUE
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean
to do that... You must think that
was some kind of latent hostility or --

REED
What in the world would give me that
idea?

An awkward beat.

REED
I mean, you broke up with me, right?

SUE
Are you kidding?

REED
No, I distinctly remember: you walked
out my door. Ergo...

She didn't want to get into this. She looks down, vulnerable.

SUE
Reed. I was ready for the next step,
you weren't, ergo, I walked.

REED
I think it was a little more
complicated than --

SUE
I just wanted to share an apartment.
What was so complicated about that?

The question stumps him. A beat. He struggles.

REED
There were a lot of variables to
consider --

SUE
No. There weren't. There was you.
And me. No variables, no math. It
was actually the simplest thing in
the world. But your head got in the
way... like it always does.

Her words penetrate. He knows she's right. He looks away.

REED
Sue... I just... I thought...

He struggles for the words.

SUE
Same old Reed. Too much thinking...

He opens his mouth, but... WHAM! Doors open. Johnny enters,
wearing a CHARRED SHIRT. He points to the burned scraps of
his shirt.

JOHNNY
Okay guys, we have a serious problem.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING LABS - DAY

ANGLES of Reed in the lab, grabbing their space uniforms
from various closets/containers:

REED (V.O.)
Our uniforms were exposed to the
storm like us. So they can transform
like us, becoming invisible, changing
size on demand or remaining impervious
to flame.

REVEAL: Reed, Sue, and Johnny step out to look at themselves
in a mirror wearing the uniforms. No boots, no gloves. Not
yet. (The uniforms will develop, like our heroes).

BEN
You look like an eighties rock band.

SUE
(to Ben)
The suit will stretch. You should
try it --

BEN
I wouldn't be caught dead in that.

JOHNNY
He's right. These costumes are...
missing something. I can't put my
finger on it --

REED
They're not costumes.

SUE
We're not taking them out. Johnny,
we need to stay here till we've
stabilized.

Johnny shakes his head, frustrated.

JOHNNY
I'm getting sick of being trapped
here. NASA wasn't even this strict!

He marches out. Sue turns to Reed, who says nothing. Sue
heads out, leaving Ben and Reed. A beat. Ben looks at Reed.

BEN
(looking at uniform)
Maybe it's missing a utility belt.

Off Reed's dark look, we hear:

VICTOR (V.O.)
So what's the prognosis?

INT. VON DOOM INDUSTRIES - VICTOR'S OFFICE - DAY

CLOSE ON: an X-RAY. Victor's ARM. The metallic transformation
is higher now. PULL BACK TO REVEAL: Victor and his DOCTOR.
In the wall behind them: ancient armor (maybe we noticed it
before, maybe not). It adds a little menace to the room.

DOCTOR
Your tissue, your organs, your entire
biophysical structure is changing.
Every system is still functioning,
somehow --

VICTOR
And they're changing into...

DOCTOR
I don't really know. A compound
organic-metallic alloy. Stronger
than titanium or carbon steel. Harder
than diamonds --

VICTOR
Like the shields Reed said would
protect us.
(cold fury, deadly
focus)
How long?

DOCTOR
At this rate, the infection should
be complete in two, maybe three weeks --

VICTOR
What do you mean "complete"?

DOCTOR
I wish I could tell you. I can't
pretend to know what we're dealing
with here. I'll notify the CDC and --

Victor hardens, razor sharp.

VICTOR
What?

DOCTOR
The Center for Disease Control. If
this thing is contagious --

WHHM! Victor GRABS the Doctor by the throat.

VICTOR
Look at me. I have a life. I'm the
face of a billion-dollar-company...
We need to keep this confidential,
understand?

Victor's grip TIGHTENS around the man's throat.

DOCTOR
But... this disease... is
progressive... degenerative...

VICTOR
That's terrible news...

With one cobra-swift move, Victor thrusts his metallic arm
into the doctor, killing him instantly. Victor retracts his
arm, and looks at it, shocked by his own strength.

VICTOR
...but I think I'll get a second
opinion.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - REED'S OFFICE - NIGHT

A SERIES OF TIME-LAPSE SHOTS: REED works around the Baxter
Building, spending hours searching for the cure. He checks
charts, writes equations, paces, frustrated.

Finally, he sits at his long desk, looking at a wall where
Ben's CHARTS are projected (both Ben and Thing's anatomies).
Reed wears the uniform under his labcoat. He checks his
equations over and over, making notes upon notes.

REED
Nothing... nothing... nothing...

He hits the end of the slides. The wall fills with white
light. Frustrated, Reed SLAMS his head into his desk, CRASH!
Something FALLS off the end of the desk.

Reed raises his head, revealing his flattened face. He steps
over to see... a PLANT SAMPLE from space, glass box shattered.
Red sparks swirl around the plant, like the cosmic storm --

REED
Of course... of course... the cloud...

THE COSMIC STORM swirls, terrifying. We slowly PULL BACK TO --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - MAIN LAB - NIGHT

The STORM is a computer-image on screen now. Behind the screen
are six chalkboards full of Reed's calculations and the
scribbled beginnings of a MACHINE.

We PULL BACK to see his arm stretched across the room writing
on the end of another chalkboard.

He's moving fast, excited, almost a little manic. He hears...
a CREAK. He slows down, but doesn't look up to see SUE enter.

SUE
What are you doing?

REED
(fast, charged)
The plants, from space. Their
particles are still charged. With
the right amount of energy, those
ions could create the elemental
profile of the cosmic storm.

He rifles through a desk drawer, then heads out. Sue stands
there, looking at the storm. Concerned. Then we CUT TO --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - HALLWAY - NIGHT

Sue follows Reed. He flips through a file, excited.

REED
If we can build a machine to re-create
the storm, we can reverse the polarity --

SUE
(realizing)
And reverse the mutations --

REED
(talking more to
himself)
Curing countless diseases, not just
ours.

She looks at him.

SUE
But we're the focus, right Reed?
Reed...?

REED
Of course. Of course.

SUE
And you sure you can control this
thing? Last time didn't work out so
well.

REED
(preoccupied, mind
spinning)
With the right energy, we can
stabilize the storm. Maybe tie into
the city grid...

He keeps his head down, making notes, entering --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - STOREROOM - NIGHT

Reed and Sue enter. Reed is looking for something. Sue slows
down, staring at this sprawling space, jam-packed with GEAR,
GADGETS, BLUEPRINTS, INVENTIONS. Awe-inspiring, overflowing.

SUE
You really need to get a janitor.

She stares at shelves upon shelves of overcrowded clutter.

SUE
This must be what it looks like inside
your head.

Reed finds his electron microscope. He turns to Sue,
defensive:

REED
There's a system to it.

She starts to pull out a MODEL of the FANTASTICAR.

REED
Wait! Sue, don't touch tha--

The little car sets the whole shelf off balance. A WAVE OF
INVENTIONS COME CLATTERING DOWN! Reed moves fast:

He LUNGES toward Sue, STREETCHING his ARMS AROUND the SHELF,
pushing Sue away, just as the INVENTIONS SMASH TO THE GROUND!

Reed and Sue hit the floor. A close call. Now more closeness:
Sue and Reed lay face-to-face, with Reed's wrapped around
her. A heated beat. Their first real intimate moment.

SUE
Sorry. My fault. I won't... touch
anything.

As if suddenly made aware of their vulnerability, Sue and
Reed stand, backing off. As they part, we see:

BEN watching from the doorway. Melancholy. He disappears. We
slowly MOVE TO... A SURVEILLANCE CAMERA in a VENT GRATE.

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Victor watches a bank of videoscreens. He has the Baxter
Building under surveillance. He sees Reed and Sue on monitors.
He toys with Sue's diamond ring in his gloved hand.

A door opens. Leonard enters. He sees the screens.

LEONARD
Is Reed any closer to a cure?

Victor looks at that image of Reed and Sue on the screen.

VICTOR
The only thing he's closer to is
Sue...

But Victor sees something between Reed and Sue on the wall.
He leans closer, and the camera ZOOMS IN, as if responding
to his will. He ZOOMS all the way to a CLOSE UP of:

REED'S BLUEPRINTS FOR THE TRANSFORMATION CHAMBER. Victor's
eyes narrow, mind ticking, a plan forming.

VICTOR
Make me a reservation for two at
Cipriani tonight.

Victor opens a drawer, pulls out an old VIDEOTAPE.

VICTOR
And get this over to Ben Grimm.

Victor leans forward, fixated on that machine. As he gets
closer, his screens go STATICKY. He absentmindedly picks at
his SCAR. In shadows, we see skin peeling off.

WOMAN'S VOICE (V.O.)
Close your eyes, baby. Keep 'em
closed.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - MEDIA ROOM - NIGHT

BEN GRIMM stands front and center. Not the Thing. But BEN
GRIMM. A normal man. He smiles wide, shaking his head.

WOMAN'S VOICE (V.O.)
You surprised?

Now we PULL BACK to reveal DEBBIE and BEN on a SCREEN. The
Thing watches the old videotape. He smiles sadly at his old
life. He mouths the words -- he knows this tape by heart.

BEN (ON SCREEN)
Yeah I'm surprised. Surprised the
fire department didn't shut this
down.

ON SCREEN: the handheld camera whips around, revealing... a
SURPRISE PARTY. Full of people. Ben Grimm is a popular guy.
On screen: Reed hugs Ben. They pose for pictures together.

THE THING
God. I was good looking.

We hear the party sing "HAPPY BIRTHDAY." Debbie kisses Ben.
Thing's eyes start to mist. On screen: Ben blows out candles.

DEBBIE (ON SCREEN)
What did you wish for, honey?

BEN
I already got it. Everything I want.

As they kiss, a tear runs down Thing's cheek. The tape ends,
and he sits in darkness for a beat. A long, lonely beat.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - HALLS - NIGHT

Ben stalks the halls, slipping into his ragged trenchcoat.
As he passes a crossroads, he sees a strange sight:

REED'S HAND is TIED to a latch in the wall. His ARM is
STREEETCHED THIN, spanning around the corner. Ben just shakes
his head, keeps moving. And we FOLLOW REED'S ARM...

UP THE HALL... ROUND A CORNER... DOWN ANOTHER HALL. The
muscles and tissue STRETCH, going taut. Finally, we reach...

REED. He steps slowly. He holds a digital TAPE-MEASURE in
his other hand, measuring distance. His skin STREEETCHES.
His face tightens, pained. We hear the faint SQUEAK of his
skin.

VOICE (O.S.)
Damn, Stretch!

Reed turns his head around, seeing JOHNNY come down the hall.

JOHNNY
How far's that rubber bend?

Reed keeps moving, slowly. His muscles and tendons laboring.

REED
That's what I'm trying to calculate.
And it's not rubber. It's muscle,
tendon. I seem to have the ability
to manipulate the malleability of my
molecular structure and redistribute
my density to --

JOHNNY
Right, whatever, have fun.

And Johnny is GONE, ducking under Reed's arm into --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - KITCHEN - NIGHT

Johnny opens a cupboard, pulls out some JIFFY POP. It starts
to POP in his hand, the bag swelling. He casually turns on a
TV, flipping to... the X-GAMES. The Jiffy Pop swells, ready
to blow. He rips it open, eats popcorn, and watches the games:

Cool stunts, hot girls. Johnny's brow furrows, a thought
forming, a mischievous smile on his lips.

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING - SIDE EXIT - NIGHT

A FIGURE exits, wearing that ragged trenchcoat and fedora.
Ben disappears into the dark night, and we CUT TO --

EXT. BROOKLYN STREET - NIGHT

Dark. Lights flicker. Steam rises through the grates. A
shadow emerges. Ben. He heads toward O'DONNEL'S PUB, a classic
Brooklyn tavern. Neon sign. Music, life inside. Ben pulls
his hat low, turns up his collar, and squeezes through the
door into --

INT. O'DONNEL'S PUB - NIGHT

A big photo of Ben Grimm in his astronaut heyday occupies a
place over the bar. Ben enters, and the bar goes SILENT. He
moves through the crowd. People clear out of the way.

Ben reaches the bar. He sits on a stool, and CRUNCH! SMASH!
The stool SNAPS like a toothpick. He hits the ground hard.
Glasses shake. A few PATRONS smile, laugh softly.

BEN
That's not funny!

They go silent. They drop bills onto tables, filing out,
scared of this monster. ERNIE works the bar.

ERNIE
Hey, that's Ben Grimm there, the
first mook from Brooklyn to go to
outer space, so pay him some respect!

But the patrons keep filing out. Ben looks down, weary.

BEN
Ernie. Sorry for killing your
business. I'll take the usual, then
I'm out... Better make it a double.

Ernie heads for the booze. Ben gives a sad shake of his head.
Then he notices... one lone patron at the end of the bar. A
beautiful young woman nursing a drink. Meet ALICIA MASTERS.

ALICIA
Who killed the party?

She turns to him, unafraid. He notices her blank stare, lack
of focus, and white cane. Alicia is blind.

ERNIE (O.S.)
Make it a triple. On the house, Benny.

Ben takes his drink, but SMASH! His grip shatters the glass,
spilling all over himself. He smiles ruefully.

BEN
If there's a God, she hates me.

He grabs a bar-rag to dry off.

ALICIA
I don't think She's real big on hate.

BEN
You wouldn't say that, if you could
see me.

She knocks back her drink, grabs her cane, steps toward Ben.

ALICIA
Can I...? See you...?

Ben doesn't say anything. A little unnerved by this woman.

ALICIA
It's okay, I won't bite...
(feeling his arm)
...not that I could.

She puts a hand on his face -- something in her tone and
gentle touch allows Ben to let her. She smiles softly.

ALICIA
Such a sad face... You know, sometimes
being different isn't a bad thing.

BEN
Trust me, this ain't one of those
times.

She smiles softly, takes her cane, and starts to head out.

ALICIA
See you round, Benny...

Right as she hits the door, over her shoulder --

ALICIA
I'm Alicia, by the way.

Ben watches her disappear. He sees a few people staring. He
lowers his head, turns back to the bar, and finds a new drink,
in a steel MARTINI SHAKER. He knocks it back.

EXT./INT. UPSCALE RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Lights twinkle. A MAITRE D' leads us through fancy digs.
Heads turn, whispers flutter. SUE steps out, joining... Victor
at a prime table. He pulls out her chair, wearing gloves.

VICTOR
Thank you for coming out to see me.

She nods, a little self-conscious.

SUE
You said it was urgent.

VICTOR
It is. There's something we need to
talk about. Something I need to ask
you...

Sue senses where this is going, and she cuts it short.

SUE
(slow, careful)
Victor, wait, slow down a second. I
want you to know I appreciate
everything you've done for me, but I
just don't --

VICTOR
Susan. What are you doing?

He is cold as ice. If he's hurt, he'll never show it.

VICTOR
You think I brought you here to talk
about us? Please. This is business.
(leaning forward,
intense)
I need to know: how close is Reed to
finding to a cure?

She pauses. Then:

SUE
He's working round the clock. But
the data needs to be tested, analyzed
before --

VICTOR
Same old Reed. All analysis, no
action. Wasn't that the problem with
you two?

She holds tight, keeping cool.

SUE
If these molecules aren't stable,
they could make us worse, maybe even
kill us.

VICTOR
Then why is Reed dragging his feet?
Maybe he likes having his prize
specimen under glass...
(closer, cruel)
It's ironic, isn't it? You're finally
the perfect woman for him... because
you're his science project.

The words sting. She can't help but hear some truth in them.

SUE
Please don't make this personal --

VICTOR
Oh, I think you already have.

SUE
Victor, we can't do anything until
the research is ready.

Victor's fist CLENCHES -- metal SFX.

VICTOR
"We," huh?

Victor SCREECHES his chair back, PUSHING the table so hard
that he SPILLS water. Heads turn, all eyes on Sue. Victor
gets close to her, too close, a hand on her shoulder.

VICTOR
Don't forget who you work for, Susan.
So get to work. And do your job.

He walks out. As he goes, he slips the engagement ring out
of his pocket. He crushes the diamond to dust, leaves the
dust in an ashtray, and disappears into the night.

Sue sits embarrassed. She slowly... disappears. People gasp.
She walks out, invisible, save for her clothes, which DRIFT
through the air. At a TABLE FULL OF BUSINESSMEN --

BUSINESSMAN
I wish my wife would disappear.

The other men laugh, but WHHM! The man's wine SPILLS into
his LAP! Sue walks out. The restaurant is left buzzing. Lights
twinkle. And we FADE OUT. A beat. Then we CRASH INTO --

EXT. NYC ARENA - ESPN MOTO X GAMES - DAY

The X games in full effect: A maze of mountainous dirt hills
and ramps... where MOTO-BIKES launch into the air to the
delight of 20,000 fans. The Riders spin and flip, performing
aerial acrobatics on their 250CC motor bikes.

X GAMES ANNOUNCER (V.O.)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we
have a special guest for you... Johnny
Storm of the Fantastic Four!

JOHNNY emerges, wearing his blue uniform, waving to the crowd.
He steps up to the pit where RIDERS prep. He beelines to
RONNIE RENNER.

JOHNNY
Hey, Ronnie Renner! I'm a big fan.

Ronnie gives a tight nod. He doesn't like being upstaged by
this circus freak.

The other bikers approach.

KENNY BARTRAM
Heard you like to ride. Wanna take
her for a spin?

He motions to his BIKE. Johnny eyes this mean machine.

RONNIE RENNER
Come on, bro. I'll teach you some
tricks... if you can keep up.

We PUSH IN on Johnny, his ego getting stoked, as we CUT TO --

INT. NYC ARENA - TRACK - DAY

Ronnie jams down the track, kicking dirt back at Johnny.
Johnny now wears a MOTOCROSS OUTFIT over his uniform, with
the number "004" on the back and a small 4 over his heart.
Ronnie hits the first hill, and CATCHES AIR, FLIPPING HIGH!

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
A rock-solid double-flip!

The CROWD goes wild. Now it's Johnny's turn. He hits the
hill and pulls the exact same move. With even more height!

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
Look at that lift, ladies and
gentlemen!

Johnny sticks the landing. The crowd swells. Ronnie tightens,
pulls his throttle harder, taking the next jump, and... MAKING
AN INSANE MOVE, CORKSCREWING IN THE AIR!

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
Frontside 360! He's totally flat and
whipped!

He lands clean. The crowd is ready to explode. Johnny REVS
his engine, his body starting to STEAM, adrenaline burning.
He hits the hill, and pulls an even gnarlier SPIN!

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
Whoa! That's a... what is that? A
720?

Johnny lands. The crowd roars. Ronnie bears down on the last
hill. He leans over his handlebars.

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
He's going for a Kiss of Death!

Ronnie hits the hill, pulls this JAW-DROPPING DEATH-DEFYING
STUNT! The crowd is deafening! Ronnie smiles. And...

JOHNNY SPEEDS FASTER, FASTER. Trails of FLAME start to streak
off his back! He RACES LIKE A ROCKET UP THE HILL! LAUNCHING
TO IMPOSSIBLE HEIGHTS! SPINNING LIKE A TOP! A FLAMING BLUR!

And now for the really impressive part: Johnny's bike starts
to drop, but JOHNNY KEEPS RISING! He FLAMES ON, spiraling
upward! For a few seconds, he's actually... almost... flying.

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
(hand over mic)
Is he... flying?

A beat. Time suspended. And... WHHM! He PLUMMETS back down!
LANDS on his bike in mid-air! And sticks a perfect landing,
maybe even kicking a little dirt up at Ronnie. Johnny swerves
to a stop, with a "holy shit" look on his face. What the
hell just happened??

X GAMES ANNOUNCER
Unbelievable, ladies and gentlemen!
You've just seen the first... the
first... TORCHFLIGHT! The McTORCH!

A new name is born. The crowd goes berserk. Standing ovation.
Riders rush up to Johnny. Kenny sees his bike:

THE SEAT MELTED, WHEELS BURNED OFF. Johnny smiles.

JOHNNY
My bad. Sorry about that.
(a glance to Ronnie)
Thanks for the lesson, bro.

HOT GIRLS swarm. As Johnny gets swallowed by fans, we see a
scary thing flicker in his eyes: the birth of a star.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - KITCHEN - MORNING

Sue stands alone, sifting through piles of mail. She focuses
on one piece of mail that she's holding. Her hand begins to
disappear and then the envelope slowly begins to disappear
as well. Sue smiles at the success. Intrigued. Quiet:

SUE
That's new...

Reed enters -- overworked, unshaved. He keeps his head down,
preoccupied. Sue shifts focus.

SUE
Have you read these...? From all
over. People want us to fight
crimes... save their kids... solve
their problems...
(no response from
Reed)
...when we can't even solve our own.

She puts the letters down, steps closer to Reed.

SUE
Reed. How close are we to a cure?

REED
No way to know. Without more tests,
experiments.

She considers. Victor's words echo in her head.

SUE
We're not specimens, we're patients.
This isn't just another science
project to you, is it...?

Reed looks up, a little surprised. He opens his mouth, but --

BEN (O.S.)
NO... NO... NO FREAKIN' WAY!!

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - MEDIA ROOM - DAY

CRASH! BANG! Ben stalks around the room, furious. Reed and
Sue rush in.

REED
BEN! What? What's going on!?

Ben points to the wall-sized TV: the ESPN MOTO X GAMES.

GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
So what can you tell us about the
outfit?

REVEAL: JOHNNY standing next to an X GAMES REPORTER. He is
peeling off the burned remains of his motocross outfit,
revealing his FF UNIFORM, with a "4" STITCHED ONTO THE CHEST.

Behind them, STEP UP RIDERS launch their MOTO-BIKES off huge
18' high mountains of dirt, thirty feet in the air.

JOHNNY (ON TV)
Not too much, but I will say that
it's all weather and no leather.
Kind of Armani meets Astronaut.

Ben, Sue, and Reed stare at the wall-sized TV. Mouths agape.

SUE
He didn't.

BEN
Oh, he did.

SUE
What did he do to the uniform?!

She turns to Reed, who gives a sheepish shrug, and peels
back his labcoat revealing a "4" stitched onto his chest
too.

REED
He talked me into it.

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
So what are your superhero names?

JOHNNY
I go by the Human Torch. The ladies
call me Torch.

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
What about the rest of the team?

Johnny hadn't really thought about them. He spitballs:

JOHNNY
Uh, we call my sister the invisible
girl... the Invisible Girl.

SUE
Girl...?!

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
That's easy to remember. And Reed
Richards? He's the leader. So what's
he? Mr. Fantastic?

JOHNNY
Well, I wouldn't say he's the leader.

Reed shrugs. He doesn't hate the name.

BEN
Could be worse.

Case in point: a photo of Ben fills the TV.

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
What about this one? What do you
call this Thing?

Johnny smiles, looking right into camera.

JOHNNY
That's it. Just The Thing. We would
have gone with The Rock, but it was
taken. And "Thing" pretty much sums
it up.

A LAUGH from the studio audience.

BEN
(matter-of-fact)
Okay. I'm gonna go kill him now.

He turns to go. Reed wraps an arm around Ben.

REED
Ben! Slow down a second and --

He sees a photo of himself on screen.

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
Is it true what they say? That he
can expand any part of his anatomy?

JOHNNY
Actually, between us, I think he's
got some problems staying rigid.

REED
(finishing his thought
to Ben)
...wait for me...

X-GAMES REPORTER (ON TV)
Which may explain why this woman's
not smiling.

They put up a shot of Susan.

SUE
I'm driving.

JOHNNY
Dude. That's my sister.

EXT. NYC ARENA - DAY

The Thing rounds the corner. Sees a crowd of girls lined up
near a red PORSCHE parked out front... with "TORCHED" on the
plates. Ben slows down, smiles.

EXT. NYC ARENA - A LITTLE LATER

Johnny and the Hot Babe exit, signing autographs for girls
in the line. Sue and Reed approach, glare like angry parents.

Johnny finds the Valet, who looks ill... his car is gone.

JOHNNY
(looking around)
Where's my ride?

The Valet blows his whistle... and a 4 X 4 solid cube of RED
JUNK METAL slides down the street and stops at the curb in
front of Johnny. The Valet timidly holds out the keys...

JOHNNY
What the?! Is that my --

Before he can finish, Johnny gets PELTED IN THE HEAD with
the license plate. It rattles to the ground, face up.

Johnny rubs the sting out of his head. Looks up and sees Ben
in the distance, dusting off his hands.

JOHNNY
(shouting: to Ben)
You're gonna pay for that, Pebbles.
(seeing Sue)
What?!

SUE
You gave us names? What are you, the
"face" of the Fantastic Four now?

Ben marches up. Hands balled into fists.

BEN
It's about to be a broken face.

REED
This isn't permanent, Johnny. We
need to be careful until we're normal
again.

JOHNNY
What if some of us don't want to be
"normal" again? We didn't all turn
into monsters like --

Ben reels back a FIST the size of an anvil. Stops himself.
Instead of attacking, he starts to walk off.

Johnny hurls a FIREBALL that SMACKS Ben in the back of the
head. Ben stops. Turns around more shocked than hurt.

BEN
Did you just --

Ben gets hit with ANOTHER FIREBALL. This time in the face.

BEN
Okay, that's it, tinkerbell! You
want to fly? Fly.

Ben charges like a bull, fist cocked back, and... Reed steps
in the way! Too late! WHAMM! Ben's fist PUNCHES INTO REED'S
CHEST, which INDENTS. Reed's BACK EXPANDS with Ben's fist,
PUNCHING into Johnny, launching Johnny off his feet.

BAM! Johnny SLAMS into a moving ADVERTISING TRUCK, with a
BURGER KING flame-broiled WHOPPER on the side. WHOOSH! He
leaves a flaming imprint on the all-beef patty.

The crowd stands stunned. So do Reed and Sue. Cameras pop.

Johnny slowly pulls himself up. The paint on the truck begins
to bubble around his hand. Beaten, bruised, he stands. Heating
up. Both his hands are now flaming fists of fury.

JOHNNY
Let's see if we can get blood from a
stone.

He and Ben lock eyes, with a block of sidewalk between them.
High Noon. They start to RUN toward each other...

When they are almost within range, Sue STEPS BETWEEN THEM,
stops them both in their tracks with just a look. Like a
mom:

SUE
You two need a time-out.

JOHNNY
Blockhead started it!

Ben just stalks off. The crowd clears, scared. A PAPARAZZI
snaps a picture. Ben GRABS his camera, and flicks the lens.

EXT. STREETS - DAY

Sue looks at Johnny, more disappointed than angry.

SUE
Damn it, Johnny.

She goes after Ben, leaving Reed and Johnny on the sidewalk.

REED
You need to control yourself and
think before you --

JOHNNY
Act. Here we go again. Reed, what if
we got these gifts for a reason?
What if we have some, you know...
like, calling?

REED
A higher calling like getting girls
and making money?

Johnny nods, totally missing the sarcasm.

JOHNNY
Is there any higher?

Reed looks at him, disgusted. Johnny waves to the crowd,
hand flaming. People SHRIEK, snap pictures. Johnny smiles at
Reed.

JOHNNY
This is who we are Reed. Accept it.
Or better yet: enjoy it.

Johnny steps into the sea of fans. Reed stands alone.

EXT. STREET/ALLEY - DAY

Sue wades through the throng of New Yorkers. Tries to catch
up with Ben... whose presence parts the crowd like Moses.

SUE
Ben! Slow down...

Ben glances sideways at her, doesn't stop. She catches up.

SUE
He didn't mean it. You know Johnny.
He's always been a hothead --

BEN
It's not him. It's them.
(pointing to crowd)
I can't live like this.

SUE
Just give Reed a little more time.
You know how he works -- analyzing
every little step before he takes
one --

BEN
It's easy for you to be patient.

SUE
No, it's not. I thought I was done
waiting for Reed... We're all in
this together now, Ben.

He slows down, gets closer, intense.

BEN
Together? Look at me, Susie. You got
no idea what I'd give... to be
invisible. Your nightmare... is my
dream.

She opens her mouth, but has no response. She doesn't know
his depth of pain. As he disappears into the alley, we CUT
TO --

INT. INVESTMENT BANK - CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY

The news plays on the TV. Head Banker Ned Cecil freezes the
screen on an image of... THE THING. He turns to Victor, who
sits with the rest of the bankers. Cold, sterile environment.

NED CECIL
This is how you "turn things around"?
These freaks are on the front page
and your company's in the obituaries.

Victor has a larger bandage on his face now.

VICTOR
I have a plan to use their publicity
for --

NED CECIL
Victor, stop. The bank's lost enough
already. This isn't a negotiation.
It's a notification. We're pulling
out.

A cold, silent beat. Victor leans forward.

VICTOR
You need to look long-term here.
Without risk, there's no --

NED CECIL
Reward. We all know the sales pitch,
Vic. And frankly, we're done buying...
Gentlemen.

He motions to his men. They all stand. Victor is the lone
man sitting. PUSH IN on Victor's face, his inner rage
palpable. A few quick surges of electricity emanate from his
body. This man is getting stronger, more electric.

INT. BANK - UNDERGROUND PARKING GARAGE - DAY

After hours. The floor is slick with water -- puddles in
every direction. End Cecil comes out of the elevator, heading
for his car. As he goes, the structure lights start to
flicker. End looks up, watches the lights go out one by one,
furthest to closest. He looks around. Unnerved by the
darkness.

NED CECIL
Hello...?

A hanging beat. Victor steps out from shadows.

NED CECIL
(relieved, almost)
Von Doom? Gave me a little shock. No
hard feelings, right? Nothing
personal.

Victor says nothing. End keeps going.

NED CECIL
You know, you could always move back
to Latvura, start fresh.

He mispronounces Latveria, dripping condescension.

NED CECIL
Maybe that's where you belong, back
in the "old country."

That does it. A surge of electricity courses through Victor.
His eyes narrow, and the electricity crackles down his leg
to THE GROUND. The electric spark hits the water and...

ELECTRIC CURRENTS RACE ACROSS THE GROUND, SLITHERING LIGHTNING-
FAST ACROSS THE WATER (like deadly electric snakes), heading
straight for Ned. His eyes go wide. And...

NED IS ELECTROCUTED! His body spasms. THUD! He slumps, dead.
Smoke rises from his body. Victor stands, power swelling.

For the first time, his SCAR SPLITS OPEN, revealing a METAL
GLOW beneath the skin. He remains scary calm.

VICTOR
It's pronounced Latveria.
(looking down at the
dead body)
This meeting's over, Ned.

Victor walks away, the final lights going to DARKNESS.

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - DAY

Victor enters, still adrenalized. He turns to the light
switch, and the lights come on. He approaches his screens,
and the monitors flicker to life. His powers are growing.

One MONITOR rolls the news. IMAGES of the FANTASTIC FOUR.
Victor leans closer, and the VOLUME automatically goes up.

NEWSCASTER (ON TV)
...the Fantastic Four put on quite a
show last night. They landed in every
major headline in the northern
hemisphere. In related news...

An IMAGE of VICTOR on screen.

NEWSCASTER
Reports have surfaced that Von Doom
Industries may be filing for
bankruptcy. You may remember that it
was Victor Von Doom who...

Victor turns away from the screen. The volume goes down. He
focuses his eyes on REED.

Leonard enters, stepping closer, seeing the faint flicker of
VICTOR'S METALLIC SCAR. His eyes narrow, concerned.

LEONARD
Sir, is everything okay? What happened
to your...?

Victor keeps his eyes on the screen, totally engrossed.

VICTOR
(under breath, seething)
Reed... He got what he wanted...
(looking at Sue)
Everything he wanted... he took from
me.

He leans ever closer, so the static starts to swallow Reed.
A hard, deadly beat. Victor's eyes narrow, zooming into...
REED'S RESEARCH: SLIDES on the wall. He zooms into key words:

DANGER, UNSTABLE IONS, MUTATION, OVERLOAD. And Victor gives
a slow, thin smile. A new plan forming.

VICTOR
Now I'm going to take it back. Piece
by bloody piece...

His fist clenches. We hear METALLIC SFX.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - DAY

Reed enters the room carrying a stack of boxes that no normal
man could balance. But he is not normal. His arms are wrapped
around the boxes five times over -- like human twine. He
stops short, and drops the boxes when he sees...

VICTOR overseeing a group of TECHNICIANS. They are boxing up
Reed's work -- all of his equipment, research. Victor wears
a bandage, covering his scar. Reed eyes a glint of METAL.

REED
Victor, are you... are you okay?

Victor turns away.

VICTOR
Don't worry about me. Worry about
yourself.

Reed looks around, seeing his lab turned inside out.

REED
What are you doing here?

VICTOR
What I should have done a long time
ago. Applications and patents, Reed.
This all belongs to me.

Reed reaches out, grabbing a folder from a box.

REED
But I'm not done with the machine --

VICTOR
Which is precisely the point. Analysis
is over. It's time for action. My
men could have mass-produced this by
now.

Reed shakes his head, defending himself.

REED
Mass-produced? This isn't a toaster.
You have no idea how it works.

Victor pulls the folder from Reed's hand, and whips out the
intricate DIAGRAM of the MACHINE. He points to parts:

VICTOR
Re-create the storm, invert the
polarity here, reverse the mutation
there. Don't talk to me like I'm
some schoolboy. I've got the same
PhD you do.

Reed is a little surprised that Victor is so familiar with
his machine. He points to a SECURE CHAMBER on the blueprint.

REED
The storm needs to be handled exactly
right, or it could make our mutations
worse, much worse, maybe even kill
us...

Victor slows. Is Reed getting to him? Or giving him ideas?

REED
Victor, please. We need time to verify
the data... We can't afford any
mistakes -- there's only enough ions
for two or three attempts.

Victor considers. He seems to enjoy watching Reed dangle.

VICTOR
Reed. I'm not asking permission.
(a final verdict)
We'll build it, while you check the
specs.

Victor walks out. Reed looks unsure, as we CUT TO --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING TRANSFORMATION LAB - DAY

The SHIELDS slowly rise. FIVE TECHNICIANS go to work. They
wear the VDI jackets. Reed watches, worried.

Sue enters. She sees the shields, the technicians, the VDI
logo. And she is deeply worried. She steps over to Reed.
Sparks fly behind them. Drills scream.

SUE
Can I talk to you?

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - REED'S OFFICE - DAY

Sue steps into the office, followed by Reed. Quiet, urgent:

SUE
Don't let Victor push you into making
a mistake --

REED
He was going to take away all my
data, equipment --

SUE
Better than your life. Victor's not
the one who has to get into that
thing. We are.

Reed starts to snap, losing his studied cool.

REED
Which is why I'm working twenty hours
a day, checking every variable --

SUE
Every variable but yourself. You
don't eat, sleep. You can't live in
your head like --

REED
(finally losing it)
I'm not the only one in there. I got
you, Vic, Ben, Johnny, all rattling
around in there.

Sue stands there, shocked by his outburst. A beat.

SUE
So clear it out. Get out of your
head. Get out of here...

He looks at her, knowing what she means. Where she means.

EXT. BROOKLYN STREETS - DAY

Ben nearly knocks people over as he stomps down the street,
mind tossing and turning. People stare, point. A LITTLE GIRL
and FRIEND run up to him.

LITTLE GIRL
Mister, Mister! Please help me! My
kitty is stuck in a tree.

She gestures to a tree next to Ben. Looks up.

LITTLE GIRL
Please save Miss Lucy.

Ben rolls his eyes. Looks up. Considers climbing the tree,
but thinks better of it. He has another idea...

Ben grabs the tree with one hand, and starts shaking the
crap out of it. MEEEEEEOOOOOOOWWWWRRRRRRR!!!!

The cat falls into frame. At the last instant, Ben sticks
out his hand and the cat lands safely in his palm. He hands
the cat to the girl. Barely acknowledges her profuse thanks.
He just moves on.

EXT. ANOTHER BROOKLYN STREET - NIGHT

Ben passes a window in a gallery, and almost misses A LARGE
SCULPTURE of his bust.

He stops, steps back to take a look. It's exquisitely
rendered, capturing not just brute physicality, but the
haunting anguish in his eyes. Ben is amazed, and touched,
but...

BEN
(under breath)
Eyebrows are a little big...

A beat. He stares at these images of himself.

VOICE (O.S.)
I figured the only way to get you
here was to stick that in the window.

He turns to see... ALICIA in the doorway.

BEN
How'd you know it was me?

ALICIA
I'm blind, not deaf. Wanna come in?

He steps toward her. But he sees... a PARTY in the back part
of the gallery. Ben pauses, a little insecure.

BEN
I'm not really dressed for a party.

ALICIA
Relax, it's casual.

BEN
No, I mean... I'm a little... dusty...

She smiles, a thought forming, as we CUT TO --

INT. GALLERY - STUDIO - NIGHT

WHOOSH! A SCULPTOR'S HOSE sprays a thin stream of water at
BEN. Alicia cleans Ben with her hands, using thin CARVING
CHISELS for his cracks. Intricate, intimate work.

Ben enjoys every moment. He eyes a couple, large PUPPETS in
the corner.

BEN
Those yours too?

ALICIA
My step-dad's. I'm strictly into
stone. I was wondering when you'd
walk by.

THE THING
You know, you could'a run an ad in
the personals.

ALICIA
"Sensual blind chick seeks three-
ton, rock-hard he-man for deep
spiritual relationship."

THE THING
This ain't permanent. My friend Reed's
working on a cure... I think.

She gets closer, running her hands across his arm.

ALICIA
Bennie. You feel pretty good as is.

Ben bristles. He doesn't want to stay this way.

THE THING
You don't know what it's like out
there. Walking around like some kind
of circus freak. People staring,
whispering --

ALICIA
I wouldn't know anything about that.

THE THING
I mean...

ALICIA
Tell me. When you grew up in Brooklyn,
how many astronauts did you know?
(a beat)
You went your own way then. You didn't
listen to people. So why start now...?

As he ponders that, we hear a CROWD SWELLING on the CUT TO --

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

Fans swarm JOHNNY. He signs autographs, poses for pictures.
Then his eyes move to... an incredibly long stretch LIMO. A
tinted window rolls down. Victor's face emerges.

VICTOR
Need a ride, Johnny?

EXT./INT. LIMO - NIGHT

Johnny climbs in, sees... three impossibly gorgeous MODELS.

VICTOR
A few fans. Hope you don't mind.

JOHNNY
Gotta take care of the fans, right?

He smiles, sitting down in the middle of them.

VICTOR
Look, I built my business knowing
what people want. And right now, the
people want you.

Johnny eyes the models, all lusting.

JOHNNY
And we don't want to let the people
down now, do we?

VICTOR
No we don't. Which is why we need to
strike while the iron's hot. I'm
talking action figures, videogames,
sponsors --

JOHNNY
Videogames? You serious?

Victor nods, knowing he has Johnny on the hook.

JOHNNY
You talk to Reed and Sue about this?

VICTOR
Johnny. Let's be honest here. Ben,
Reed, Sue. Good people, all. But
stars?
(shaking his head, a
beat)
I don't want to break up the band,
but you're the one they want. Don't
you think it's time to go solo...?

Victor subtly nods to the models. They envelop Johnny.

VICTOR
Take the car for a spin. Think about
it. Is this the life you want? Or
would you rather live in Reed's
lab...?

The car stops. Victor gets out. He stands on the pavement.
As he shuts the door, we see the women climbing onto Johnny.
The door shuts, and...

WHHHMMMPF! The windows all suddenly STEAM UP!

INT. HAYDEN PLANETARIUM - NIGHT

STARS on the ceiling. A VOICE drones about the galaxy. In
the LAST ROW, we find: Reed and Sue. Reed is thinking about
work.

REED
I could get Ben to tap into the
Baxter's main power to generate enough
voltage --

SUE
Reed. Shh. Just be quiet. And look
up.

He slowly looks up. The stars seem to calm him.

SUE
Remember our first date here...?
God, I was so nervous.

REED
You were?

SUE
Of course I was. I'd read all your
papers on bioethics. Some of them
two times just so I'd have something
to say to you.

Reed smiles softly, thinking back.

REED
You know, I bribed the projectionist
ten bucks to keep it open late?

SUE
I gave him twenty.

They laugh. Sue looks up to the stars. Quiet:

SUE
I didn't want that night to end.

Reed looks at her. Wrestles with a decision. Then quietly:

REED
Sue, you were right. It wasn't
complicated. I just wasn't ready to
be... to become...
(a beat)
You can be a little intimidating.

She knows. He trails off. Sue looks at him.

REED
You always talked about how you liked
the kind of man who could approach
you... speak his mind. One who wasn't
afraid to tell you what he wanted.

SUE
I did. I did, Reed... but I wanted
you to be that man.

Someone SHUSHES them. They slump down further. Closer.

SUE
When I walked out, I waited ten
minutes outside your door. Ten.
Waiting for you to come find me.

REED
Why didn't you say something?

SUE
That would have kinda defeated the
purpose. And Reed...
(closer, emotional)
I'm saying it now.

Their eyes lock. A heated beat. No more secrets. Their faces
are close. A kiss is coming. Closer, closer. Sue disappears.

SUE
(quiet, playful)
Come find me.

Reed tentatively leans into the kiss, and...

SUE
That's my nose, genius... These are
my lips.

Reed's face is SQUEEZED on both sides by Sue's invisible
hands. She pulls him into a KISS. Lips touch. Soft, tender.
Stars twinkle. And we slowly DISSOLVE TO --

EXT. KIRBY GALLERY - NIGHT

Ben and Alicia step out together. The crowd quiets, turns. A
few whispers flutter. Alicia leans close to Ben, and slips
her arm into his. The party goes back to normal.

ALICIA
Look around. I'll get us drinks.
They always let blind girls cut the
line.

She walks off. He watches her go. The way her hair moves.
The lines of her neck. The light on her skin. This woman is
the most beautiful thing Ben has ever seen. He's falling
hard.

Ben steps through the crowd. The swanky guests give strained
smiles, polite. Ben is starting to feel comfortable here. He
keeps his eyes on Alicia, who talks to guests.

Ben hangs back, happy to watch her. A few patrons pass him,
thinking he's just an inanimate statue.

PATRON
I don't know about this one. It lacks
a certain... realism.

Ben keeps his eyes on Alicia. He overhears two BOHEMIAN GIRLS,
who assume he's a statue.

BOHEMIAN GIRL #1
She's always had a thing for runaways
and strays, but this is ridiculous.

BOHEMIAN GIRL #2
I know. Did she really think these
sculptures would sell?

BOHEMIAN GIRL #1
Like anybody would want this thing
in their house. That girl's a one-
woman charity.

Ben just stands there, frozen. His eyes dart around the room,
paranoid now. Aware of people staring, laughing. He glances
at Alicia, who giggles at something else. Ten seconds ago,
this would have been dreamy. Now it's damning.

We stay with Alicia, who cuts through the crowd, emerging
where she left Ben. She has a PITCHER of wine in hand for
him. But Ben is gone. She looks disappointed, hearing his
heavy FOOTSTEPS get softer and softer in the distance.

THUNDER booms on the CUT TO --

EXT./INT. DINER - NIGHT

A pitstop in Queens. Heavy RAIN swims down windows. BEN sits
at the COUNTER, with his hat pulled low, coat tight. Nobody
sits within four chairs of him. He sips coffee in a metal
bowl. A long beat. Then...

VICTOR (O.S.)
This seat taken?

Ben turns to see... VICTOR.

BEN
What are you doing here?

VICTOR
I'm worried about you.

BEN
About me? How sweet.

VICTOR
Come on. Let me buy you something to
eat. Looks like you could use the
company.

Ben considers. A man deeply alone. A beat.

INT. DINER - LATER

Victor and Ben sit in a window booth. A waitress sets a
foothigh stack of pancakes in front of Ben, removes huge
plates he's just cleared. Victor's aware of the other
customers in the diner staring at Ben. Ben burps: it rattles
the plates.

THE THING
'Scuse me.

VICTOR
I know it can't be easy. Life hasn't
changed that much for Reed, Sue and
Johnny. At least they can go out in
public. But for you? People staring.
Whispering behind your back...

THE THING
If you're trying to cheer me up you're
doing a helluva job --

VICTOR
I'm just saying, I know what it's
like to lose something you love. To
see it slip away, and know it's never
coming back.

The Thing shoves a huge piece of pie in his mouth.

THE THING
Reed's gonna fix me up --

VICTOR
For your sake I hope you're right.
I'm sorry if that sounds a little
skeptical.

THE THING
Skeptical...?

Ben doesn't trust him. But Victor is hitting pressure points.

VICTOR
Look, he's a brilliant man, we should
trust he's working as hard as he
can. You're his best friend. So what
possible reason could he have for
taking his time?
(a beat)
I mean, other than getting close to
Sue?

Off The Thing: a seed of doubt has been planted. He can't
help but find truth in the words. And we CUT TO --

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - NIGHT

Reed and Sue return, laughing quietly, bodies close. Reed
turns on the lights, and they flinch when they see... BEN.
He sits waiting, scowling. They stop laughing immediately.

BEN
Yeah, I have that effect on people.

The construction of the TRANSFORMATION CHAMBER is complete.
The Technicians are gone now.

REED
Ben --

BEN
Oh, you remember my name do you? You
happen to remember what you swore to
do with every breath in your body?

REED
We're working as hard as we can --

BEN
Yeah. I can tell. Victor was right.

He motions to Reed and Sue together.

REED
Come on, this is nothing.

Sue looks a little hurt.

BEN
Glad "nothing" could take you away
from your work.

REED
Ben, I don't know if this thing'll
change us back or make us worse. I
need you to be patient for a little
while longe--

He POKES his finger into Reed's chest, which INDENTS around
it like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Ben pushes Reed back. Hard.

BEN
Look at me, Reed. Look at me!

He grabs Reed's face, his fingers INDENTING the skin. He
THROWS Reed back. Reed slams down to the ground.

REED
I am looking. That's why I can't
make a mistake! I've got to get it
right, and it's not right yet! We
need to test this.

Ben shakes his head, looking down at Reed.

BEN
I spent my whole life protecting
you, from the schoolyard to the stars.
For what? So you could play Twister
with your girlfriend while I'm the
freak of the week?

Reed tries to stand, but Ben KNOCKS him back. Reed slams
into the wall, and stays down this time.

SUE
Ben! Stop it! Or I'll stop it.

She starts to raise her hands to throw force-fields.

BEN
Stay out of this Susie.

As Ben turns to her, Reed takes this opportunity to WRAP Ben
up like a python. They struggle. Ben runs back into a wall
to shake Reed. Their faces are close, heated.

BEN
Good thing you're flexible enough to
watch your own back. 'Cause you're
on your own now.

Ben seems to relax and Reed lets go. Ben walks out. Sue comes
to Reed's side. He's bleeding.

REED
I'm OK. Just go, go after him. Stop
him.

She heads out. Reed slowly stands. He looks at the
transformation machine. It's not ready. But... Reed steps
toward it. As he walks, his image goes grainy in --

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Victor gets closer to his screens, watching Reed's every
step. This is what Victor has been waiting for. His screens
flicker with static -- he's too close, but he can't pull
back. He sees: REED TURNS ON THE MACHINE. Hits a countdown.
And he grabs his UNIFORM...

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - HALLWAY - NIGHT

Sue hustles down the long hall. Ben turns a corner, passing
the elevators, heading toward a FREIGHT ELEVATOR. She gets
there too late. Doors close, going down.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - GROUND FLOOR - NIGHT

Ben pounds across the lobby. He sees Johnny coming in.

JOHNNY
Christmas come early! Check it out!

He holds up an ACTION FIGURE of BEN: a horribly bloated body
topped by a tiny pinhead. Johnny pushes a button and --

BEN ACTION FIGURE
IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!

WITH ONE ARM, Ben shoves Johnny into a wall. With his other
hand, Ben grabs the toy and SMASHES it into the wall, inches
from Johnny's head. The toy lodges into the plaster.

JOHNNY
Hey! That's a prototype!

BEN
Go back to the drawing board.

He strides away.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - GROUND FLOOR - NIGHT

DING. Sue speeds out of the elevator. No sign of Ben. She
runs into... JOHNNY who shakes off the encounter.

SUE
Johnny? Did you see Ben?

JOHNNY
Yeah, for the last time, I hope. I'm
done with this freak show. I'm moving
back to the real world.

SUE
Is that what you call it? "Real"?

JOHNNY
At least it beats living in a lab
like somebody's science project.

This hits home. Sue is quiet. Johnny turns to go.

SUE
Johnny, slow down. Think. You know
mom didn't raise us to --

JOHNNY
Look around, sis! She's not here. So
you can stop talking to me like I'm
your little boy --

SUE
As soon as you stop acting like one.
Come on, you're smarter than this.
You think those people out there
care about you? You're just a fad to
them.

He pulls away from her, taking a step out the door.

JOHNNY
Let's try something new: you live
your life. And I'll live mine.
(beat)
And just for the record: they LOVE
me.

He strides into the night, leaving Sue alone. A dark night.
The Fantastic Four is no more. The family is split apart.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - NIGHT

The transformation chamber is up and running. Numbers count
down. The storm swirls in the chamber. Reed now wears the
UNIFORM. He opens the door:

HE'S GOING TO USE IT ON HIMSELF. HE IS FINALLY TAKING ACTION.

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Victor sits enthralled. He leans forward, breathless.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - NIGHT

Reed gets closer. His heart races. So does Victor's. A moment
of truth for both of them. REED STEPS INTO THE MACHINE.

Reed looks up at the cosmic storm. He opens his arms, ready
to risk his life. And... WHHHM! He JOLTS in JUMP-CUT-MOTION,
RECONFIGURING, JERKING out of control, and we CUT TO --

VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

His screens GO BLACK. He looks out the window to see... a
flash atop the BAXTER BUILDING. The tip of the Baxter glows.
The rest of its lights GO OUT, FLICKERING in a power surge.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - GROUND FLOOR - NIGHT

Lights go haywire. Sue knows immediately...

SUE
Oh god, Reed.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - NIGHT

Lights flicker in darkness. The door rips open. Sue lunges
inside. She sees through smoke and sparks... REED sways in
the chamber. A beat. Did it work? Then...

Reed SLUMPS TO THE GROUND. His eyes flutter back. Dead...?
His body is warped, twisted -- one half remains tense, hard,
while the other half is loose, soft, almost melted.

SUE
What did you do, Reed? What did you
do?

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Victor watches every second on his monitors.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - TRANSFORMATION LAB - NIGHT

Sue struggles to lift Reed -- half of his body is STRETCHED
OUT, devoid of any semblance of bone structure. One side of
his face looks like it's MELTING OFF.

REED
I can... make it work.

SUE
Reed, stop, you need to rest your --

REED
The power... I need... more power...
to control... the storm --

SUE
You need a doctor.

Reed loses consciousness. Sue carries him out.

INT. VICTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Victor watches, his eyes narrow, looking at his hands.

VICTOR
More power...?

He reaches out for his phone, and... his SPEAKERPHONE
AUTOMATICALLY TURNS ON. His powers growing.

VICTOR
Leonard. Bring me our lab rat.

EXT. UNDER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE - NIGHT

Ben sits alone, looking at city lights. A man without a home.
Without a family. A hard beat. HEADLIGHTS slash across Ben.
He slowly turns, blinded in the lights of... a LIMO.

LEONARD
Ben! They need you back at the Baxter
building. It's... Reed.

Ben considers. Despite it all, he's a good friend. And a
good man. As he gets into the car, we hear THROBBING MUSIC
IN --

INT. MANHATTAN NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT

LOUD MUSIC and PULSATING LIGHTS. A young crowd dances and
grinds to the beat. Among the colorful lights, STREAKS OF
FLAME swirl around the ceiling. We follow them to:

A BALCONY, where we see JOHNNY sitting in a cozy VIP section.
He's surrounded by "groupies" climbing over each other to
get a look at his various parlour tricks.

He leans closer to a YOUNG WOMAN. Closer. Candles around
them start to melt. Beads of sweat drip down her face.

JOHNNY
What do you say we get out of here?

She pauses. And... a very LARGE MAN steps up.

JOHNNY
This your boyfriend?

The Boyfriend doesn't look too happy.

BOYFRIEND
Is that all you do? Bar tricks and
stealing chicks...

Johnny does one more trick... taps the guy's drink... igniting
it into a burst of flame. The Boyfriend drops the glass,
which SMASHES on the ground... catches the floor on fire.

The boyfriend quickly moves in and stamps it out.

GIRLFRIEND
What are you doing?! You could have
burned somebody!

The boyfriend takes his girlfriend's hand, they start to
walk off. She turns back for one last comment...

GIRLFRIEND
You know, if I had your power I'd be
doing something with it, not wasting
my time doing cheap bar tricks,
hitting on some other guy's girl.

Johnny looks a little embarrassed. The couple leaves. Johnny
glances around. His FANS look down, away. He sees how quickly
they can turn. The crowd parts slightly. He looks very alone.

INT. TRANSFORMATION CHAMBER - NIGHT

Leonard leads The Thing inside. The ominous chamber sits
with its door open. Victor enters from the control station.

VICTOR
Ben, come in.

BEN
What is this? Where's Reed?

VICTOR
Where do you think? With Sue.

Ben looks at the flickering lights. Suspicious. Victor turns
to Leonard, who looks a little scared by this dark room.

VICTOR
(quiet)
I'll take it from here, Leonard.

Leonard nods, all too eager to get the hell out of here.

LEONARD
Yes sir.

Leonard disappears fast, as Victor turns back to Ben.

BEN
What do you want, Vic?

VICTOR
To help you. I've run every test
known to man. And they all yield the
same result: the machine is ready.

Ben shakes his head, wanting to believe, but...

BEN
Reed said it'd be weeks till --

VICTOR
He also said we'd avoid that storm
in space. And we know how that turned
out.

Ben nods. Reed was wrong before. Ben gets closer to the
machine, drawn to it. He wants to believe, so badly.

VICTOR
He couldn't generate enough power
for the machine to reach critical
mass. Yet another mistake for "Mr.
Fantastic."

BEN
And you can? Power it up?

Victor stands in shadows, but we see the tiniest little SPARK
around him. The lights...? Or his skin...?

VICTOR
Yes. I've found a new energy source.

He keeps his arm behind his back -- his fingertips course
with ELECTRICITY. It starts to build, sparking up his arm.

VICTOR
Tell me... do you want to be Ben
Grimm again?

Ben keeps his eyes on the machine. His dream is alive.

BEN
Let's do it.

INT. TRANSFORMATION CHAMBER - NIGHT

The chamber doors open. Thing enters. He looks around this
sterile box. An animal in a cage. Victor pushes a control;
the doors of the chamber slowly close and seal. Thing shuts
his eyes. He just wants to be Ben again.

FROM THE CONTROLS: Victor initiates the transformation
sequence. As lights go on inside the chamber, they dim in
the lab. Energy pumps into the chamber. The storm swirls
faster. Lights flicker... there's not enough power, until --

-- Victor walks over... grabs hold of the machine with both
hands... and WHHHM! A countdown begins in the control panels.

SLOW MOVE IN on the chamber, The Thing's face in the window.
The chamber activates. The storm strikes hard.

The Thing opens his mouth, a beat, then he screams in agony.
Struggling violently inside. To escape? Extend the moment:
Condensation obscures the chamber window: The Thing vanishes.

EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE - NIGHT

The city lights fill the sky, and give it a quiet, eerie
glow. Suddenly, a BRIGHT FLASH emerges from the window of
the Baxter Building. The rest of the city lights dim slightly.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING LIVING QUARTERS - NIGHT

Reed lies in bed, weak, recuperating. When the power surges,
we MOVE in on him: he looks up in alarm, knowing that
someone's using the chamber. He starts to get out of bed,
straining to stand with every muscle left in his body.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - MEDICAL SUPPLY ROOM - SAME TIME

Sue sifts through a cabinet full of medications. The lights
dim. Power failure. She looks up...

EXT. CLUB - NIGHT

Johnny walks alone. A WAVE OF LIGHT spreads through the sky.
He looks up. His eyes adjust to the blast, as he realizes
where it's coming from. He starts RUNNING toward the Baxter.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - REVERSION LAB - NIGHT

INSIDE THE MACHINE, the RED CLOUD swirls with debris,
crackling with light. The chamber rattles dangerously, as
the power seems to SHAKE the very foundation of the building.

And then it's over. The light dies down... somewhat. It still
pulses along with the chamber. The chamber door SLIDES OPEN.

Beat. And... BEN GRIMM steps out. Not The Thing. No more
rocks. BEN GRIMM. Naked, tired, but finally A NORMAL MAN.

He slips on his trench-coat -- now way too large. He
collapses. He stares at his hands, his arms... it worked.

BEN
Oh my God... Th-thank you. THANK
YOU... VIC?!

Ben sees a SPARK in shadows. That spark is...

VICTOR'S ARM. Victor steps forward, and reveals himself to
Ben: ELECTRICITY PUMPS THROUGH HIS BODY. His skin is part
flesh, part metal. Cheekbone exposed, steel tissue.

HE IS DOOM.

BEN
Vic... What the...?

DOOM
Everyone thought I was safe behind
those shields...

BEN
Victor, the machine worked for me.
It can work for you --

DOOM
It did, Ben. It worked perfectly.

Ben starts to realize...

BEN
You planned this...?

Doom smiles, reaches out his hand -- ELECTRICITY builds from
his shoulders, coursing down his arms to his fingertips.

DOOM
I've always wanted power. Now I've
got an unlimited supply...

BEN
And no Thing to stand in your way.

DOOM smiles, nods, stronger than Ben now.

DOOM
Take a good look, Ben. This is what
a man looks like who embraces his
destiny.

Doom clenches his fist and BLASTS Ben, sending him flying
backwards across the room -- knocked unconscious.

DOOM
One down, three to go.

Suddenly, WHOOSH! The lab door flies open. Reed enters. Doom
steps back into the shadows.

DOOM
Right on cue.

Reed's eyes go wide. He sees Ben crumpled in the corner.

REED
Oh god Ben. Are you okay?
(amazed)
You did it, you really did it...

DOOM
No, Reed. I did.

Reed slowly turns to see... DOOM. His body, his face.

REED
Victor...? What, what happened to
you? What did you do to your --

DOOM
Exactly what I said I would: I built
a better, stronger being. And
outsmarted the great Reed Richards --

REED
Victor, this isn't the way to --

DOOM
(a dark smile)
You always know best. So tell me.
What happens when you superheat
rubber?

Doom BLASTS an electrical BOLT at Reed, KNOCKING Reed through
the huge window! Reed's body RUBBER-BANDS from the blast.

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING - NIGHT

Reed SLINKIES down the face of the building, skin rippling.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - REVERSION LAB - NIGHT

Doom looks out the window, smiling at his old friend's fall.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - FRONT LOBBY - NIGHT

DING! The elevator opens. Doom strides out. He passes our
friend O'HOOLIHAN, who looks scared.

O'HOOLIHAN
Mr. Von Doom? Are you oka--

Doom casually SWIPES, sending him through revolving doors.

DOOM
Never better, Jimmy. And it's Doctor
Doom now.

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING - NIGHT

Reed MELTS down the sides of an AWNING, like a Salvador Dali
watch. He tries to GRAB HOLD of window ledges, but he can't
get a grip. His ARM streeetches, and SNAP! He falls like a
SLINKY, out of control. Half his body loose, half hard.

He drips to the sidewalk, where... Doom steps out. He catches
Reed's face, holds it close.

DOOM
Why the long face?

Doom whips Reed into the night. As Doom turns, people cower,
horrified by his face. They clear out, and...

Doom sees his REFLECTION in a window: scarred skin, metallic
veins. A monster. Infuriated, he SHATTERS the window with an
iron fist, and bounds into the night.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - LATER - NIGHT

Smoke billows, windows are shattered. Sue races inside, seeing
Doom's devastation. Silence, deadly silence. Then... she
sees a pile of WRECKAGE shift. BEN crawls out.

SUE
Ben?!

She helps him out of the rubble. He is beaten, battered.

JOHNNY (O.S.)
Sue!

Johnny comes running in. He sees the wreckage.

JOHNNY
I'm sorry, sis, for leaving you guys --

SUE
No, I'm sorry, for pushing you out.

He nods. A beat between them. He looks around, sees Ben.

JOHNNY
Jesus, Ben!
(eyeing him)
I go away, look what happens. You
got a lot of explaining to do.

He motions to the wreckage.

BEN
(struggling, weak)
The machine works. And Vic's gone
Mister Hyde on us --

JOHNNY
Really? With a name like Von Doom?
Never saw that one coming.

Sue looks around. Only one question. Dead serious:

SUE
Where is Reed?

BEN
Victor must've taken him.

INT. VON DOOM - CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

Doom sits at the head of the table in an eerie parallel to
the opening scene. Those mysterious CRATES loom in shadows.
He wears a green HOOD, and METAL MASK over his scarred face.

Doom's eyes turn toward... the other end of the table.

DOOM
Chemistry 101, Part Two. What happens
to rubber when it's super-cooled?

We now see what he sees: Reed sits in a chair with TUBES
INJECTED into his skin FREEZING HIM SOLID! Ultra-cold vapor
coats him. Doom steps closer, a sadistic smile.

Reed tries to move but can't even ball his hand into a fist.

DOOM
Allow me.

He PRESSES DOWN on one of Reed's fingers, which makes a
horrific CRACKING SOUND. Reed's face twists with pain.

DOOM
Painful...?

Doom seems to enjoy every CRACK. He leans closer.

DOOM
You don't know the meaning of the
word.

Doom lets up on Reed and reaches into a crate, and pulls out
a military-issue ROCKET-LAUNCHER. He aims at the city skyline,
locking onto his target: JOHNNY STORM.

DOOM
But you will.

Johnny's HEAT SIGNATURE glows. The screen flashes: TARGET
ACQUIRED. Doom looks back at Reed, his launcher aimed casually
over his shoulder.

DOOM
Flame off.

BOOOOM! He fires without looking! A MISSILE blasts into the
sky. THE MISSILE LIGHTS UP THE DARK NIGHT beginning its wide
turn towards its target.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING

Johnny, Ben, and Sue hear the missile being fired and turn
to the window -- it BANKS, coming STRAIGHT for them. They
move to --

EXT. BAXTER BUILDING BALCONY - NIGHT

Johnny rushes toward the edge, to get a good look at the
missile streaking closer. As he moves, the missile SHIFTS
slightly with HIS MOTION! His eyes narrow, thinking.

He FLAMES ON a HAND. He waves his flaming hand, and the
MISSILE locks onto the fire! Johnny darkens, realizing...

JOHNNY
Great. Heat-seeker.

His mind races. He makes a decision, and steps up onto the
ledge, hundreds of feet above the street.

SUE
What are you doing --

JOHNNY
Sis. Let me take care of you for
once.

SUE
But Johnny... you can't fly.

Johnny considers, a half-beat. He looks out. Under breath:

JOHNNY
Well then this'll be one hell of a
basejump.

Sue reaches out to stop him, but Johnny DIVES HEROICALLY OFF
THE EDGE! He FLAMES ON! The missile follows his arc. As he
drops, his clothes BURN OFF, revealing his UNIFORM.

JOHNNY
(under breath)
Come on... come on... come on...

He falls lower, lower. And... he... BANKS! SWOOPS UP! FLYING!

JOHNNY
FLAME ON.

Sue watches, with fear, and a hint of pride.

BEN
We need to help Reed --

Sue shakes her head, sympathetic.

SUE
Ben, you got what we all wanted. You
need to stay here. It's too dangerous.

She heads off. Ben watches her go, helpless.

INT. BAXTER BUILDING - REVERSION LAB - NIGHT

Ben steps back into this ravaged room. Through the shattered
window, he sees Johnny's FLAMES streaking away. A hard beat.

BEN
What... what have I done?

EXT. NEW YORK - NIGHT

Johnny zigs and zags, but the missile takes every twist and
turn, gaining on him, bearing down. Cars slow, stop. More
people look up, scared, pointing at this stunning sight.

INT. VON DOOM CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

Eerily silent. Reed tries to move, but he is FROZEN. He hears
a footstep. But the room is EMPTY. No sign of Doom even. A
beat. He hears a CREAK. Another CREAK, closer. And...

A FREEZING TUBE starts to SHIFT. It goes taut, clearly being
manipulated by a hand -- an INVISIBLE HAND. Sue APPEARS next
to Reed, tube in hand. She tries to stay calm.

SUE
What has he done to you?

Reed's eyes shift to see... Doom emerge from the darkness.

DOOM (O.S.)
How romantic.

SUE
Victor, please --

DOOM
It's Doctor Doom to you.

He steps closer. Electrodes course over his metal skin.

SUE
We know the machine works. It worked
on Ben, it'll work on you. We can
turn you back --

DOOM
Do you really think fate turned us
into gods so we could refuse these
gifts?

She hardens, a little force field starts to emanate from
her.

SUE
Victor. You always thought you were
god.

Doom has a hand behind his back, generating an energy blast.

DOOM
Sue please, let's not fight.

SUE
No, Victor... Let's.

She HURLS a force-field at him. It CONNECTS, KNOCKING him
back a half-step. But he simply shakes it off, and steps up.
Too powerful. He smiles. His arms CRACKLE with electricity.

DOOM
Susan... You're fired.

BOOM! He FIRES an ELECTRIC SHOCKWAVE that LAUNCHES her back.
She spirals through the air, crashing into the wall, THUDDING
to the floor. As Doom stalks closer, Sue gathers her strength
to... GO INVISIBLE.

DOOM
Marco...

A hanging beat. We see: a FAINT OUTLINE of Sue behind him.

DOOM
Polo.

He SPINS, GRABS her! Doom grips her neck, SLAMMING her to
the ground beside Reed. She lays there, beaten, visible.

In the distance behind Doom, city lights BLINK, fading in
and out. Lights flutter softly here (like when Ben went
through the machine). Reed looks up. Could it be...?

EXT. EAST RIVER - NIGHT

Johnny jets over the water with the missile only twenty feet
behind him. He's running out of options, when he spots:

A GARBAGE BARGE floating in the water ahead. Thinking fast,
Johnny does a fly-by and HURLS a fireball at the barge.
VWOOSH! The flames ignite and spread quickly.

He loops back toward the flaming barge as the missile closes
in on him. Fifteen feet... ten... Just as it's about to hit --

JOHNNY FLAMES OFF and falls toward the water. As he tumbles
through the air, we CUT BACK TO --

INT. VON DOOM CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT

From their vantage point, they see the missile explode. Flames
dance. Sue's eyes darken, as Doom grips her neck.

Reed tries desperately to move, but he is FROZEN. It takes
every last ounce of strength to lift one finger, which makes
a CRACCCKKKKING sound.

DOOM
One more down. Now it's just the
scientist and his specimen.

Sue and Reed lock eyes. Reed tries to move his mouth. He has
something to tell her, struggling just to move his lips and
get the words out.

REED
Sue. The only thing I ever knew
without thinking was...
(his lips fully
freezing)
I... love...

He starts to say "you," but his lips FREEZE, mid-word. Sue
whispers to him:

SUE
Me too, Reed.

Doom steps toward Sue, about to deliver the final blow.

DOOM
(quiet, cruel)
And so four became none. It's my
time now.

BOOOOM! An elevator DOOR FLIES INTO THE ROOM! SMASH!

VOICE (O.S.)
Actually, Vic...

Reed recognizes the voice. So do we. Doom turns to see...

BEN GRIMM, AKA THE THING. Back in rocky, fighting form.

BEN
IT'S CLOBBERING TIME!

Doom turns, just as --

BAM! Ben HITS Doom harder than any living thing has ever
been hit. The force sends Doom back through the air, toward
the far wall, where he SMASHES into the massive "V" sculpture.
It SNAPS, crashing onto him. A few sparks. Then nothing.

Nothing at all. No more movement. Doom is dead.

Ben turns to Reed.

BEN
Damn, I've been wanting to do that.

Reed manages the thinnest smile as Ben starts disconnecting
the tubes from Reed.

BEN
(Reed's words)
Victor's "not that bad," huh? Just
"a little larger than life"? Maybe
you'll listen to me next time before --

WHMM! The WRECKAGE shifts. They turn to see... Doom EMERGES.
He stands, power coursing. And he CHARGES at Ben! Ben charges
back. And these two behemoths...

SLAM INTO EACH OTHER, CRASHING THROUGH GLASS, INTO THIN AIR!!

EXT. VON DOOM BUILDING - CONTINUOUS

Doom and Ben PLUMMET, wrestling in mid-air. On the ground,
PEOPLE scream and duck for cover. Doom and Ben SMASH through
the large GLASS roof of a lower building across the street.

INT. HOTEL - INDOOR POOL - CONTINUOUS

BOOOOM! Doom and Ben, locked in combat, drop through the
glass, landing in a large HOTEL POOL. People scream, run.

INT. HOTEL - INDOOR POOL - NIGHT

UNDERWATER: Doom and Ben LAND HARD. Their combined weight
CRACKS the floor of the pool. A YOUNG BOY watches underwater
through his MASK. Doom and Ben square off, but...

The CRACKS OPEN WIDER! And they're PULLED toward the HOLE!
WHOOSH! The water is all sucked out of the hole. The boy
holds tight to a ladder, as Ben and Doom crash down to --

INT. HOTEL - HALLWAY - NIGHT

A HOTEL GUEST sees water FLOOD into the hall. Roaring rapids
head straight for him. He jams his key into the lock, turning
desperately, just barely leaping out of the way as the wave
carrying BEN and DOOM SMASHES through a window to --

EXT. HOTEL - CONTINUOUS

SMASH! Ben and Doom fly out the window, thrashing in the TEN
THOUSAND-GALLON WATERFALL TO --

EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREET - CONTINUOUS

CRASH! Water floods the street. Doom and Ben land in a large
GARBAGE TRUCK. The truck rocks back and forth, DENTING from
the inside. Grunts, growls.

CRASH! The truck suddenly STOPS. COP CARS SPEED CLOSER, sirens
screaming. And --

BOOM, A HUGE SHAPE explodes from the truck. SMASH! Ben lands
on a CAR filled with two OLD LADIES -- his head cracks the
WINDSHIELD. Doom steps out of the garbage truck, water
flooding the street around him. COP CARS converge on Doom.

Doom turns his attention to the cops. His limbs SPARK with
electricity, ready to fire at the cars.

EXT./INT. CAR - CONTINUOUS

Ben sees the cops and Doom. He knows the cops are dead meat.
He turns to the OLD LADY in the driver's seat.

BEN
Excuse me, Maam. Can I borrow your
car?

She nods and quickly gets out, shaking.

OLD LADY
The clutch sticks a little.

BEN
Not gonna be a problem.

Ben LIFTS the car and THROWS it at Doom. WHMM! It FLIES
through the air, and WHAM! Hits hard, knocking Doom back
twenty feet! As Doom FLIES back, a BUS enters frame, and --

EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREET - NIGHT

BOOM! Doom SMASHES into the OUT OF SERVICE BUS! CRASH! Windows
shatter. The bus SLAMS into an ELECTRICITY POLE, snapping
the pole. Doom steps out, unharmed.

Ben CHARGES toward him. Doom grabs the broken ELECTRICITY
POLE, FLIPS it into his hand, and wields the pole like a
giant STUN-GUN! Electric sparks FLY through the air into --

BEN! The BLAST of VOLTS launches him off his feet! He goes
FLYING backward, ELECTROCUTED in mid-flight, and --

WHOOMPF! Ben LANDS HARD, face down, CRATERING the street!
Water rushes into the crater. Ben lays there, incapacitated.

EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREET - SAME TIME

On the street, cars SCREAM to stops, people GASP. Doom strides
up to Ben, and raises the ELECTRICITY POLE for the death-
blow. Currents surge. Right before he swings down --

VOICE (O.S.)
I can't let you do that.

Simple, strong. Doom turns to see... REED. Alone. Bruised
and battered. Slowly stepping toward him. Doom smiles.

DOOM
And you can't stop me.

He turns back to Ben, raises the pole, but... he CAN'T SWING
DOWN! Something is HOLDING the pole in mid-air.

Something invisible.

DOOM
Hello Susan.

She turns VISIBLE, holding back the pole with a FORCEFIELD.
Using her power, she FLINGS the pole from Doom's grip. It
skids along the street. Reed helps Ben to his feet.

Doom turns to these three wounded soldiers.

DOOM
What is this? The pitiful three?

Doom steps toward them, but --

VOICE (O.S.)
Four.

WHOOOSH! Johnny SWOOPS DOWN, hurling a FIREBALL like a
flamethrower, KNOCKING Doom back.

Johnny takes his place alongside the others. The four of
them stand as one. Johnny turns to Thing.

JOHNNY
Had a little relapse, huh?

Thing starts to retort, but Johnny gives a warm smile.

JOHNNY
Welcome back.

They turn to Doom, who stands with metal skin slightly singed
and melted, making him look all the more menacing.

DOOM
This is going to be fun.

Electricity starts to course through his body. He stands at
the foot of the crater Ben made. He THRUSTS down, grabbing a
thick POWER CABLE, RIPPING it out of the street!

He SNAPS the cable into two snaking, lashing strips. He holds
tight, ABSORBING the power. Lights FLICKER and DIM in
buildings around him. Windows BLOW! Doom GLOWS, amped up.

He LETS GO of the cables! The two deadly wires SNAKE out of
control! PEDESTRIANS scatter, panic. Reed sees the wires
SLASHING through the air. He makes a move:

Reed STREEETCHES HIS ARMS, reaching for the deadly cables.

Doom FIRES superpowered ENERGY BOLTS. The electric charges
surge through the air toward the Fantastic Four, but --

Sue TOSSES her FORCE-FIELDS, exploding Doom's blasts in mid-
flight. She keeps her hands up, BLOCKING blows like a prize
fighter. One of Doom's BOLTS glances off her force-field and --

SMASHES into a concrete stanchion of a BUILDING! The pillar
starts to crumble, with PEOPLE huddled under the overhang!
They're about to be CRUSHED by the falling concrete! But --

Suddenly, the concrete roof HOLDS STEADY... because... BEN
is holding it up! He stands beside the stanchion, like Atlas
holding the world. People run out, safe.

ON THE STREET: Reed finally grabs both ends of the wire.

REED
JOHNNY! SPOT-WELD!

Johnny FLIES toward him, and uses his flames to WELD the
wires back together. Sparks fly. The cables start to FUSE.

Doom keeps FIRING. Sue struggles with her force-fields. The
impact is too much. Her nose starts to bleed.

SUE
Can't... hold... on...

Doom smiles. Reed sees her. She is about to drop her hands,
vulnerable, but... REED STRETCHES HIS WHOLE BODY!

He EXPANDS himself across the street, and GRABS a TREE, so
he forms a WALL between Sue and Doom.

Doom keeps FIRING his bolts. They SLAM into Reed's body,
RUBBERBAND his skin, and DISTEND OUT his back without
breaking. He strains, agonizing.

REED
Johnny. SUPERNOVA.

JOHNNY
But all these people...

REED
Now.

Johnny charges toward Doom -- flames on his body starting
build to a blinding white intensity, ENGULFING everything.
Johnny GRABS DOOM.

THING
(quiet, smiling)
Flame on, kid.

FLASH! Johnny explodes in a PULSE of BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT,
which starts to HEAT UP everything surrounding it. Reed
doesn't miss a beat. He's in total command now.

REED
Sue, I need some of that anger, rage,
frustration --

SUE
(looking at Doom)
I'm sure I can come up with something.

She concentrates. She sees Johnny holding onto Doom -- and
the GROWING HEAT and LIGHT.

Sue shuts her eyes. A GIANT FORCE FIELD EXPLODES FROM HER
BODY. A massive WAVE OF ENERGY. It SWOOPS past a car, which
WARPS, MELTS (half the car is not inside the force-field).

Thing turns to the crowd, extending his arm, blocking them.
Sue's force-field ENVELOPS JOHNNY'S SUPERNOVA, containing it
in a BRIGHT SPHERE OF ENERGY. The light increases, to the
point that it's blinding. People look away.

Finally, Johnny's supernova fades. He collapses to the ground,
exhausted, smoking. Sue exhales and falls to her knees. Her
force field fades. The light flickers out. As everyone's
eyes adjust, we hear... THUD. THUD. And --

DOOM steps through the smoke. Unharmed. His metallic body
GLOWS WHITE, TRAILING MOLTEN METAL. Sue, Ben, Johnny look
devastated. They can't beat him. He looks at Reed.

DOOM
Is that the best you can do...? A
little heat...?

Reed stays perfectly calm. He shakes his head.

REED
Time for your lesson, Vic. Chem 101:
what happens when you supercool hot
metal...?
(to Ben)
Ben...

BEN
Got it, teach.

He KICKS OPEN the FIRE HYDRANT. The water GEYSERS UP! Ben
kicks down with his foot, deflecting the water so it sprays
toward Reed, who... TWISTS HIS TORSO so...

The water CURLS around his chest, RACES down his arms, and
SHOOTS right off his wrists toward Doom!

DOOM
No.

Doom RUSHES TOWARD Reed, but the WATER FLIES OUT, DOUSING
DOOM. GIANT CLOUDS OF STEAM fill the air from the cooling
metal. DOOM screams. His shrieks finally fade to SILENCE.

The water stops, thick steam clouds roll, completely obscuring
Doom from view. A beat. The steam clears to reveal:

DOOM. A true statue now -- a hard, cold solid piece of METAL.
Frozen forever. Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny -- The Fantastic
Four -- exhale. They stand as one, in roiling smoke. A beat.

JOHNNY
Damn, I love this job.

Reed and Sue slowly lock eyes, thinking the same thing.

BEN
Job, huh...?

Will they accept their mantle? Reed shrugs.

REED
Well, we do have the suits...

They give weary smiles. A team. Sue gets close to Reed.

SUE
You know, about what we said up there,
I think maybe --

THHM! He KISSES HER. His neck extending. Strong, powerful.
He pulls back slightly, smiles at her. A new strength in
him.

BEN
Funny how things turn out, isn't it?

Sue looks at Reed. A long way from that conference room.

SUE
Hilarious.

As they kiss, people emerge, stepping out of hiding. The sun
rises around them. The Fantastic Four step into the new dawn
of a new day. And we slowly DISSOLVE TO --

INT. CIRCLE LINE BOAT - BANQUET ROOM - DUSK

Reed and Sue kiss on the deck of the Circle Line as it chugs
around New York City.

JOHNNY (O.S.)
Dude, that's still my sister.

A PARTY IN PROGRESS. Drinks, food, music. We see in the crowd
a familiar faces: O'HOOLIHAN (cast on his arm), bartender
ERNIE, others. JOHNNY and BEN stand behind Reed and Sue.

Reed and Sue pull apart. Reed turns to Ben, excited.

REED
Ben, I've been crunching the numbers
on the machine. I think if we can
rework the power settings...

BEN
Forget it, egghead. I'm good as is.

ALICIA (O.S.)
That's my Benny.

She hands Ben a big METAL MUG. Ben takes the mug. He CLINKS,
but SHATTERS her glass.

ALICIA
We're going to have to work on your
touch.

BEN
I like the sound of that.

Alicia gets close. A soft smile. Reed turns to Sue.

REED
Sue, can I talk to you for a second?

Reed leads her out. Ben and Johnny swap a glance.

EXT. CIRCLE LINE BOAT - DECK - DUSK

A romantic view of the city-scape. Reed stands with Sue.

REED
I found a broken gasket, from space --

SUE
A gasket? Reed, we're at a party.

He opens his hand, revealing a circular piece of metal, just
about the size of... a RING. Sue slows down.

REED
If one of us were to wear it...

She sees Johnny and Ben inside, watching -- in on a secret.

Reed looks her square in the eye. Unflinching.

SUE
Reed. What are you doing?

Reed drops to his knees. His head stays eye-level, while his
body drops. Sue gapes, so emotional she starts to DISAPPEAR.

REED
No more thinking, no more variables...
Sue Storm... will you...
(she's gone)
Sue? Sue? You there?

Dead silence. And then...

THE RING DISAPPEARS. SUE IS WEARING IT.

SUE (V.O.)
Yes.

Reed goes to kiss her.

SUE
That's my nose, genius... These are
my lips.

Reed's face is SQUEEZED on both sides by Sue's invisible
hands. She pulls him into a KISS and reappears.

INSIDE: the party applauds. Ben, Johnny, and Alicia move
through the crowd to join Reed and Sue. As they go --

BEN
No more cracks about how I look.

JOHNNY
Hey, I'm Mr. Sensitivity now.
(weaving around bodies)
Clear the way, wide load coming
through.

Ben glares, fists clenched. Johnny smiles, mischievous, as
they hit the balcony. And he FLAMES ON, taking off into the
air, blazing the NUMBER "FOUR" enclosed in a circle of flame
(their future callsign), over the city skyline. The crowd
oohs and aahs. Ben watches, unimpressed.

BEN
Showoff.

People drink, laugh, dance. We slowly PULL BACK from the
party, the boat, the city, and... CUT TO --

EXT. HARBOR - DAY

CLOSE ON: the MELTED FACE of DOOM. He is placed in a wooden
crate. LEONARD oversees the operation, listening to his cell.

As two workers move the heavy door in place -- a crackle of
ELECTRICITY moves over Doom's body. Leonard's CELLPHONE goes
STATICKY. His eyes narrow. Could it be...? And --

SLAM. The door closes. We can read the destination through
stenciled lettering: LATVERIA. And we pull back to reveal
the box is on the deck of:

A FREIGHTER SHIP. The ship pulls away, steaming into the
horizon, as we...

FADE OUT.

THE END

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