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Here’s everything you’ve always wanted to know about ‘Fantastic Four’

Michael Sangiacomo Newhouse News Service

Who are the Fantastic Four?

In the early days of the space race, a scientist and three others took an untested rocket into space. The ship ran into a cosmic radiation storm, which caused it to crash.

The four survived but were changed for life.

To help prepare you for today’s opening of the “Fantastic Four” movie, here’s an introduction to each character:

Code name: Mr. Fantastic.

Real name: Reed Richards (played by Ioan Gruffudd).

Relationship: Eventual husband of Susan Storm.

Background: Overachieving supergenius, leader of the Fantastic Four. His patents and scientific inventions keep the group solvent and pay for all the wonderful toys.

Powers: His body can stretch into any shape or position and is resistant to injury. He uses his physical powers less often than he used to, relying on his genius to save the day. He’s slow to anger, the calm center of the group.

Weakness: Loses track of time. He’s been known to lock himself in his laboratory for days while working on a project.

Code name: Invisible Woman (formerly Invisible Girl).

Real name: Susan Storm (played by Jessica Alba).

Relationship: Eventual wife of Reed Richards. Sister of Johnny Storm.

Background: Started out as the quiet, supportive girlfriend with the passive power of invisibility. She grew and matured, and so did her powers.

She is the practical member of the group, who remembers to turn off the Negative Zone portal and hang up the keys to the Fantasti-car.

Powers: She can turn herself and anything else invisible for indefinite periods of time. She can project nearly impenetrable, invisible force fields.

Some consider her the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four, though she has not lived up to her full potential.

Weakness: Lack of self-confidence, sometimes making her a little needy.

Code name: Human Torch.

Real name: Johnny Storm (played by Chris Evans).

Relationship: Brother of Susan Storm.

Background: A young man who loves racing cars and thrill sports. He used to be more of a womanizer but has settled down after a series of disastrous relationships.

He’s a bit of a slacker but holds his own in a crisis. He gets a strange thrill out of pranking the Thing. He likes the limelight and is sometimes impetuous in battle.

Powers: He can ignite his body in flame and fly by superheating the air beneath him. He can control fire and heat around him. If he tries, he can burn at near-nova heat.

Weakness: He’s an excitable boy who tends to act first and think later.

Code name: The Thing.

Real name: Ben Grimm (played by Michael Chiklis).

Relationship: Best buddy, former college roommate of Reed Richards.

Background: A tough Brooklyn working stiff who caught a bad break but generally makes the most of it. He’s the best friend who never gets the girl, the second banana who saves the day through grit and determination.

Not the brightest member of the group but smarter than he lets on. Has a bad temper and sometimes overreacts to minor problems.

Powers: His body was transformed into a rocklike consistency, giving him superstrength and partial invulnerability.

Weakness: His soft heart gets him into trouble. While he is invulnerable to physical force, his insecurity and emotions make him an easy target.

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