I’ve been excited to see the new Fantastic Four movie for quite some time. When you break down their story, it’s one of leadership, through and through.
Reed Richards and crew have a vision. They execute on the vision. The vision doesn’t go as planned. They have to run with the consequences.
Perfect parallels for leadership, if you ask me.
However, as the movie approached its release date, the reviews were not promising. Rotten Tomatos reviewers rated the movie at 8%. Critics ripped Fantastic Four apart.
The movie didn’t seem to hold much promise of entertaining. But I went anyways.
I wanted to see what leadership lessons I could find in the Fantastic Four. So, here they are…
CAUTION: Contains Fantastic Four spoilers.
Leadership Lessons And Quotes From Fantastic Four
1. People will laugh at your vision – Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four, always dreamed big. So big that people laughed at him.
During a school career day, Reed’s teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer?
I want to be the first person to teleport.
Queue the laughter from his classmates. And his teacher.
However, Reed never gave up on his dreams. We see later in the movie that Reed was able to succeed in his dreams.
Sharing your big dreams takes guts. You put yourself out there with people who won’t understand where you’re coming from or why you want to do what you want to do.
Many times, their reaction will come from their inability to see the possibilities ahead.
Don’t let the laughter of small dreamers hold you back. Forge ahead and prove them wrong.
2. Sue Storm –
There’s patterns in everything.
In Reed and Sue’s first real meeting, Sue is listening to music. Reed doesn’t understand this. He acts as if listening to music is a waste of time.
Then he digs deeper. He asks Sue why she listens to music. For her, it was finding the patterns in music. She found it soothing and calming.
Sue brought out a great point. When we look at what’s happening around us, we can find patterns.
Whether it’s in the way people act or the way TV shows and movies play out, there are patterns all around us.
Effective leaders discover these patterns and find ways to use them to move people forward.
3. Reed Richards –
I just want my work to make a difference.
There were people who thought Reed wanted to become famous through his work. They thought he wanted his name in the papers.
They were wrong. Reed wanted to make a difference in the world.
This should be the end goal of all leaders: To make a positive difference in the world.
Leadership doesn’t guarantee you fame and fortune. Often, it brings you pain and struggles.
Lead for a difference, not the fame.
4. Accidents could cause a catastrophe – When Reed was making his teleporter, he had to have the specs just right. If he didn’t, the variation could have created a black hole that would have destroyed the earth.
If Reed had made a mistake, his results could have wiped out the world. It was that dangerous.
While few of us will be tasked with decisions that could end the world (except if you become President), our choices and the actions we take, could result in major damage. Whether in our lives or in the organizations we lead.
Be calculating in the risks you take. And, if you screw up, face up to the consequences.
5. Franklin Storm –
The failures of my generation are the opportunities of yours.
Every generation makes poor decisions. Franklin was willing to own up to this.
He knew those in his age bracket had made bad choices. Those bad choices resulted in failures that impacted generations to come.
However, he didn’t see them as complete failures. He saw the past mistakes as an opportunity for the next generation.
The leaders before you may have made mistakes. They may have led your organization in a direction they shouldn’t have. Or they may have had a moral failure.
Whatever it was, there were mistakes made. Don’t hold that against the previous leadership.
Rather, look at those past leadership failures as stepping stones for your leadership. Come behind them and clean up the mess. Use your newfound influence to correct the past.
6. Leading different people takes different communication skills – Franklin Storm brought his son, Johnny Storm, onto the team. His role was to help build the teleportation machine that would bring them to another universe.
As Johnny walked into the laboratory, we hear Victor Von Doom make a snide comment about Johnny and his ability to take orders. Reed counters and approaches Johnny in a way that he was receptive of.
Johnny quickly got to work helping Reed and the rest of the team. This left Doom a little perplexed.
It’s easy to want to use the same communication style with everyone in your organization. It’s also easier, or so it seems.
However, we run into problems when we try to lead everyone in the same manner. You lead Millennials in a different way than you would a Boomer. The same way you wouldn’t lead a child in the same way as an adult.
They’re different. They require different communication skills.
7. It’s hard to recognize where you belong – Early in the movie, we see Reed and Ben Grimm make a trip to The Baxter Building. This is where Reed was going to go to school and make a difference in the world.
Ben knew he didn’t belong there. He could, however, see that Reed was in his element at The Baxter Building. Reed wasn’t so sure, but he stuck around and flourished.
Sue also saw something similar with Johnny and his newfound skills. The ability to fly and zip around with great speed suited his personality well.
We’re much the same as Reed or Johnny when it comes to seeing our own strengths. We’re often blind to our own abilities.
Surround yourself with others who are willing to draw out your strengths. Find people who are willing to speak up and tell you what you’re good at.
8. Sue Storm –
It’s okay to take a nap or something.
Scientists like Sue and Reed are a dedicated bunch. They’re portrayed as people who will work through the night and miss meals.
In Fantastic Four, we see Sue catch Reed taking a cat nap. He’s caught off-guard when she walks in and tries to recover.
Sue calls him on it and tells Reed that it’s okay to sleep. We all need it.
Leaders, like scientists, need sleep too. We’re not robots. Our bodies were designed for periods of work and periods of rest.
Get some shut-eye leader!
9. Bring others along with you – After Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Victor finished the teleporter, Reed called his buddy Ben to be one of the first to travel interdimensionally. He didn’t want to leave his friend behind.
Though their paths had deviated, Reed still held a special place for Ben. He was with him from the beginning. He wanted Ben to be with him at the end.
You’ll have many people come and go in your life. Some will be gone for good and others you’ll want around to celebrate with.
Don’t leave the important people in your life behind. Pull them up and alongside you when the time is right.
10. Victor Von Doom –
Stay here. We need an anchor.
Victor convinced Reed and Johnny to take a ride on the teleportation device before the government could get their hands on it. After they arrive, they leave the safety of their teleportation pods and explore the landscape.
After awhile, they come to a cliff that looked extremely dangerous. Victor tells one of the guys to stay behind. They need an anchor to get them back up.
This begs the question: Who’s the anchor in your organization? Do you even have you? Should the anchor be you?
11. Our strengths are often surprising – When the scientists exploration of the alternate universe goes awry and they return to the regular Earth, things are not the same.
Each person that left and returned, had a superhero power. Ben Grimm was solid as a rock. Sue Storm turned invisible. Johnny Storm was on fire.
And then there was Reed Richards.
His legs were trapped under a steel beam. He couldn’t move. But he heard Ben’s cry for help.
He struggled and pulled and eventually made his way to Ben. Then he looked at his legs.
They were stretched far beyond what the human body should be able to endure. And he passed out.
He was surprised by his new powers. He was overwhelmed and surprised.
Like our inability to see where we thrive, we also lack the ability to see our strengths. When they’re brought to our attention, we find them hard to believe.
You have strengths you don’t realize. Seek out wisdom in cultivating your strengths. It’s where your zone is.
12. Franklin Storm –
Family means we take care of each other.
Franklin considered everyone on his team a member of his family. He couldn’t see it going any other way.
He also knew great leaders take care of their team and families.
Take care of your team like they’re family.
Give them grace. Give them love. Give them affirmation.
13. Find what helps you think – When Sue Storm needed to think, she threw on a pair of headphones and rocked out to music. This helped her focus on the task at hand.
You’ll hear many leadership experts tell you what works. And it does, for them at least.
But what helps others think more clearly may not help you.
Try different methods for focusing your thoughts. It could be music or a run or reading or some other method.
Find what makes you and use it.
14. Sue Storm –
We can’t change the past but we can change the future.
As much as we may not like it, what’s done is done. You cannot change it.
You can, however, make a difference in the future.
You can do this by:
Changing your actions
Changing your thought life
Changing how you spend money
Changing how you talk to others
Changing what you eat or drink
You can’t change the past, you can change the future by making better choices today.
15. The critics don’t speak for everyone – I stated that the Fantastic Four has been panned by the critics and movie goers alike. I was trepidatious seeing the movie in the theater.
However, I’m glad I didn’t listen to the critics. They told me I wouldn’t enjoy the Fantastic Four. They were wrong, I did.
You’ll face critics as you lead. They’ll tell you it can’t be done or your work isn’t good enough.
They may be right, they may also be wrong.
Don’t let the critic speak for you. Let your work do the talking.
16. Time is of the essence – We last saw the Fantastic Four on the big screen 8 years ago. Since then, a lot has changed in the world of movies.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that the studios must act on the licenses they’ve purchased. If they don’t, they revert back to the original owner.
20th Century Fox knew this going into the new movie. Their rights to the Fantastic Four license would expire if they didn’t create a new movie. So they did.
Whether this time limit was a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate. Some feel the movie was rushed, others liked it.
The end result? Fox was able to maintain the results to Fantastic Four because they took action.
You’ll have situations where you’ll have to make quick decisions. It’ll be one where time is of the essence.
You won’t always strike gold with your decisions. You might even flop.
You will have created something, though. And it may save your organization or position.
Don’t hesitate to take action when your time is limited.
Is Fantastic Four Worth Seeing?
I’m bucking the trend of negative responses to the new Fantastic Four movie. While it’s different, it was enjoyable.
Fantastic Four had a more sci-fi feel to it than most comic book movies.
From those types of movies, we expect action and adventure. Not a sci-fi story that delves into the characters.
That’s what you get from Fantastic Four. More science fiction, less action.
Is it your typical comic book movie? No. It’s also not bad if that’s what you’re expecting.
My wife, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy Fantastic Four. I’m not sure her reasoning but I know the movie wasn’t for everyone.
My opinion is to not be afraid of seeing the movie based on the reviews. Go in with an open mind and you’ll enjoy it.