The DC Hero With More Potential Than Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

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With Marvel preparing to bring The Fantastic Four into the MCU, there’s a lot of speculation about how it will impact Marvel’s universe. It may have a major influence on the DCU as well, influencing a potential Plastic Man appearance. The lesser-known DC hero may be able to outshine Mr. Fantastic by letting the Marvel character appear first and learning from it. 

Plastic Man Turned His Life Around

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First appearing in 1941 as a Quality Comics character, Plastic Man was acquired by DC in 1956, and he has been a recurring character ever since. The general origin story for the character is that he was a petty criminal exposed to unknown chemicals during a crime gone wrong. He becomes a crime fighter using his newfound powers, often approaching it with a sense of humor. 

Similar Powers To Mr. Fantastic

Mr. Fantastic and Plastic Man have very similar power sets, with the ability to stretch and manipulate their bodies. While the most common expression of their powers is to elongate their limbs, they both utilize their powers to take on a variety of shapes and forms. It’s a visually dynamic power in comics that has been notoriously difficult to adapt into live-action. 

The Ups And Downs Of Live-Action Reed Richards

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Mr. Fantastic has appeared in several live-action adaptations, gradually refining the visual effects of the power, with each looking a little better than the last. With the low-budget, unreleased 1994 Roger Corman film The Fantastic Four as a low point and the 2022 Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a high point, the effect has improved significantly over three decades. Still, there hasn’t been a great movie-level version of the power for characters like Plastic Man or Mr. Fantastic. 

DC Can Learn How To Bring The Stretchy Hero To Life

The DCU has the advantage of letting the MCU figure out how to bring those peculiar powers to life. Regardless of how successful the powers of Mr. Fantastic are, the DCU could build on their techniques and technology for a more refined version of the power with Plastic Man. Of course, if the CGI technology disappoints audiences, the DCU can choose not to adapt DC’s stretchy hero.

One Piece Has Done Stretching The Best

Both franchises can also look to Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece for inspiration. With the show’s protagonist Luffy having a similar power, it’s probably the best use of the power in a modern property. Still, while it looks amazing for an effect in a show, it would be mocked in a Plastic Man or Mr. Fantastic movie appearance. 

Plastic Man Is Frequently Comic Relief

While the DCU’s biggest advantage over Marvel is the MCU taking the first stab at the power, Plastic Man also has the advantage of being a more comedic character than Mr. Fantastic.

If Fantastic Four struggles with Reed’s powers and it looks cheesy, the DCU could still use them as a punchline. A character who takes himself seriously but looks silly when using his powers doesn’t work; a character cracking jokes while looking silly can.

Could Outdo Marvel With The Right Effects

There’s no denying the MCU was much more popular than the DCEU, but with a fresh start, the DCU could give the Disney franchise a run for its money. Nailing down a difficult effect multiple Marvel movies have failed to master would be a great start. Plastic Man offers James Gunn and company the chance to prove they can outdo Marvel.

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