Dustin Henderson & Mr Fantastic + parallels between The Party/The Fantastic Four
In S1, E1, when Will doesn’t show up at school and Mike, Lucas and Dustin are putting their bikes on the rack, Troy and James (their names respectively mean “foot soldier” for Troy and “supplanter”= the one who follows for James, which they are) come to bother them. They annoy Dustin and force him to crack his knuckles after making fun of the three boys by giving them the nicknames we already know (Midnight, Frogface and Toothless). When they leave, Mike says to Dustin:
“I think it’s kinda cool. It’s like you have superpowers or something. Like Mr. Fantastic.”
I was interested in knowing why Mike makes that particular reference (knowing that the Duffers are fond of comics), so I looked it up on the internet.
Dr. Reed Richards is a scientist and inventor, better known as Mister Fantastic, who has been considered the smartest man on Earth. He is a polymath with mastery of all the sciences including; electrical, mechanical, aerospace engineering, electronics, chemistry, physics, biology and beyond.Richards was exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation along with his best friend Ben Grimm, then girlfriend Sue Storm and her younger brother Johnny Storm, during a trip to space in the stolen rocket, the Marvel-1. The radiation mutated him and his friends, allowing him to stretch and mold his body at will.Together they became the Fantastic Four, a team of adventurers who explored space, time and alternate dimensions and saved the world along the way from science-based threats.
It was interesting to me that Dustin shares a lot in common with the fictional character Mike is comparing him to.
Dustin’s most important traits are curiosity, desire to learn and ingenuity. He is also extremely loyal to his friends and responsible.(His mother seems to rely on him a lot in S2).
Like Mr Fantastic, Dustin is a “nerd, nerd” (thank you, Erica). He’s a scientist and an inventor. He invented the “Forever Clock” and “The Slammer” in S3 + Cerebro, and was the one in charge when the kids had to build a sensory-deprivation tank for El in S1. He’s also the first one to call on his science teacher, Mr. Clarke, with whom the children discuss the possibility of parallel worlds in S1, and goes to the library to lead his researches about Dart in S2.
Mr Fantastic is also part of a group of four friends, just like the Party at the beginning. Together, they explore alternate dimensions (= Upside Down), space/time (linked to the UD), and save the world.
Like Mr Fantastic, Dustin is an only son. He also has only one parent (Mr Fantastic’s mother is dead, and we don’t know where Dustin’s father is).
Mr Fantastic studied in California (where Max and Billy come from and where the Byers could be living in S4). He met his future archenemy in NYC, Victor Van Doom.
It was when he was working on his fifth at State University in Hegeman, New York, that Reed Richards first met two of the most important individuals in his life. He was assigned to room with a foreign student, a scientific genius named Victor von Doom. The imperious Von Doom, taking an immediate dislike to Richards, decided to take other quarters. Instead, Richards gained as his roommate former high school football star Benjamin J. Grimm, who became Richards’ closest friend. Richards was already intending to build a starship for interstellar travel. When he told his ambitions to Grimm, Grimm jokingly said that he would pilot the starship for Richards someday.
Dr. Victor von Doom, Ph.Daka Doctor Doomis a Latverian politician who serves as the Monarch and Supreme Leader for the Kingdom of Latveria. He was scarred from an accident and wears an iron mask and armor to hide his true face. He is considered one of the most brilliant minds and scientists on the planet Earth. He is also a sorcerer with skills in magic matching the most powerful beings in the Universe, making him a potential candidate for Sorcerer Supreme. He hopes to bring order and betterment to humanity through world conquest. Unequalled in ability, ego, and will power, he has come into conflict with both superhumans and cosmic beings. He is best known as the rival of Reed Richards and arch-enemy of the Fantastic Four.
Might be a stretch but Dr Martin Brenner may also be inspired by Doctor Doom, Richard’s archenemy. They are both scientists, and if Brenner is alive after his encounter with the Demogorgon in S1 (which we think he is and it was hinted in S2), he may have a scar. It also makes me think of Will The Wise possibly turning evil (supreme sorcerer) and the Mind Flayer (world conquest).
In NYC, Mr Fantastic also met his closest friend, Ben Grimm. His current alias is “The Thing”. Lucas refers to Carpenter’s “The Thing” during his new coke vs original coke speech in S3 (which is one of Will’s favourite movies). Mike also has a “The Thing” poster in his basement. It is surely a coincidence, but I thought it was funny.
Benjamin J. Grimm was born on Yancy Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he grew up in poverty. His father, an alcoholic, was unable to hold a job. Much of the family's income came from Grimm's older brother, Daniel, who obtained funds illegally as leader of the Yancy Street Gang. Grimm, who idolized his brother, became embittered against the world when Daniel was killed in a battle between rival gangs. Grimm was only eight years old at the time. Within ten years, he had succeeded his brother as leader of the Yancy Street Gang. After his parents died, Grimm was taken in by his Uncle Jake, who had risen from poverty to become a successful physician. At first, Grimm resisted his new guardians' kindness toward him. But eventually, he came to return their love. He left his life with the Yancy Street Gang behind, entered high school, and became a football star there. While he was a senior at Stuyvesant High School, Ben received a football scholarship to State University in Hegeman, New York. On the football field, Ben received the nickname "Grimm Reaper."
Ben Grimm could be a ref to Will, since he grew up in poverty, Lonnie may be an alcoholic (it is hinted that he drinks a lot when Jonathan visits his new place in S1 E2: there are beer cans EVERYWHERE) and much of the Byers’ family income comes from Joyce + Jonathan (who takes extra shifts in S1). S4 movies list inspirations also hint at Jonathan being involved in shady business such as drugs, so Daniel could be paralleled to him. Daniel (Jonathan?) was killed in a battle, and his death led Ben to “be embittered against the world”. Aka if Jonathan dies in S4, Will could go berserk (Will the Wise having his powers unleashed). Also, after his parents’ death, Ben is rescued by a scientist. Dr Brenner could take Will to the lab after Joyce’s death. Even if it would not be “a rescue” here.
(some images with Lonnie’s cans) (ignore the other stuff, it’s for another analysis)
While attending State University, Richards rented living quarters at the Manhattan boarding house owned by the aunt of a young woman named Susan Storm.Reed instantly fell in love with Sue, although he soon deemed it prudent to move out, because he was too distracted from his work due to his romance with Sue.
Susan = Suzie (it’s a common nickname)
Wikipedia: Susan is a feminine given name, from Persian "lily flower", from Egyptian sšn and Coptic shoshen meaning "lotus flower", from Hebrew Shoshana meaning "lily" (in modern Hebrew this also means "rose" and a flower in general), from Greek Sousanna, from Latin Susanna, from Old French Susanne.
Our Dustin’s Suzie (who helped him “to save the world” ahem):
Doom became obsessed with developing a machine that could project the astral form of a being into other dimensions. Reed pointed out a flaw in Doom's calculations, but Doom arrogantly ignored his warning, feeling that Reed was trying to upstage him. The machine exploded, scarring Doom's face. He was soon expelled for conducting unethical experiments. As Doctor Doom, von Doom would later become Richards’ greatest rival and enemy. Doom blamed Reed for his deformities and he continually tried to prove himself superior to Reed, especially intellectually. They battled many times, but Reed almost always emerged triumphantly.Reed and Ben later served in the military together. Their time in war increased their trust in each other.
Doom wanting to develop a machine that could do astral projections in other dimensions make me think of Brenner’s project with the UD + the machine in S3. The Russians’ machine also exploded in S3.
Wikipedia: Astral projection, is a term used in esotericism to describe an intentional out-of-body experience that assumes the existence of a soul called an "astral body" that is separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside it throughout the universe = could be related to the DID theory written by @kaypeace21 ?
Three years before Reed Richards tested his starship, his father mysteriously disappeared. In fact, Nathaniel Richards had devised a time machine which he had used to attempt to journey into the future of his own world. However, the machine actually transported him to an alternate Earth with a history considerably different from their own. Reed Richards would be reunited with him while visiting this alternate Earth years later. Before Nathaniel Richards left his own time, he made arrangements that left two billion dollars to his son. Reed Richards spent most of the money on his project to build and launch his starship. This project, based in Central City, California, received further funding from the federal government
This story of alternate dimensions and parallels worlds make me think of the Upside Down + the machine “the Russians” built in S3. Nathaniel Richards is Mr Fantastic’s father. Hopper is seen as a father figure in the show, and he too disappears mysteriously... In another dimension? If Russia isn’t really Russia but an idea Will has of Russia = a paralleled world = the Upside Down. Also, the fact that Nathaniel reunites with his son years later = possible reunion between El/Hopper?
Now, about The Fantastic Four:
The four characters traditionally associated with the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space, are: Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes; the Invisible Woman (Susan "Sue" Storm), who eventually married Reed, who can render herself invisible and later project powerful invisible force fields; the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue's younger brother, who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly; the monstrous Thing (Ben Grimm), their grumpy but benevolent friend, a former college football star, Reed's college roommate and a good pilot, who possesses tremendous superhuman strength, durability and endurance due to his stone-like flesh.
Susan “Sue” Storm aka The Invisible Woman: powers of invisibility, force fields. She can make objects levitate, explosions, shields...
Jonathan Storm: Like the rest of the Fantastic Four, Johnny gained his powers on a spacecraft bombarded by cosmic rays. He can engulf his entire body in flames, fly, absorb fire harmlessly into his own body, and control any nearby fire by sheer force of will. "Flame on!", which the Torch customarily shouts when activating his full-body flame effect, has become his catchphrase. The youngest of the group, he is brash and impetuous in comparison to his reticent, overprotective and compassionate older sister, Susan Storm, his sensible brother-in-law, Reed Richards, and the grumbling Ben Grimm. In the early 1960s, he starred in a series of solo adventures, published in Strange Tales. The Human Torch is also a friend and frequent ally of the superhero Spider-Man, who is approximately the same age. = this fire power makes me think of Will actually (”fireball”)
Strange Tales make me think of Stranger Things
Strange Tales - Wikipedia:
Strange Tales is a Marvel Comics anthology series. The title was revived in different forms on multiple occasions. Doctor Strange and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. made their debuts in Strange Tales. It was a showcase for the science fiction/suspense stories of artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and for the groundbreaking work of writer-artist Jim Steranko. Two previous, unrelated magazines also bore that title.
The Marvel Comics series ran 168 issues, cover-dated June 1951 to May 1968.It began as a horror anthology from the company's 1950s precursor, Atlas Comics. Initially modeled after the gory morality tales of the popular and groundbreaking EC line of comics, Strange Tales became less outré with the 1954 establishment of the Comics Code, which prohibited graphic horror, as well as vampires, zombies and other classical monsters. [...]
Possibly an inspiration for ST?
Reed allegedly won Nobel prizes. One of which was for the discovery of the Negative Zone.
= Makes me think of Dustin’s idea of the Upside Down
What is the Negative Zone?
No one in our universe knows how or when the Negative Zone appeared/came to be or how old it is. (= lol, sounds like Dustin talking about the Vale of Shadows) If its aging process is similar to our universe's, it is much older: it has already begun to contract and will eventually implode (a Big Crunch, as opposed to a Big Bang). At one time, there were several species who had flourishing cultures and made progress in science and the arts. When the contraction began (one estimate puts it at a million years ago), their focus changed to survival. The people of Tyanna, for instance, used spores to terraform other worlds and produced many of the species now known to live there. Other species include the people of Argor, Arthros, Kestor, Krysok, Mantracora, Ootah, and Tarsuu.
The Negative Zone is an alien universe with several characteristics that distinguish it from our own. First, and most importantly, it is composed entirely of anti-matter. Anyone or anything that moves from one universe to the other must reverse its polarity on a molecular level or be instantly annihilated. Second, it is a mature universe that has already started to contract (ours is still expanding); eventually, it will implode. Third, time passes at a faster rate relative to ours. Fourth, a still unknown factor (possibly lack of water) makes evolution difficult, because much of the Negative Zone is still uninhabited. The best-known beings from the Zone include Annihilus and Blastaar
“The Vale of Shadows is a dimension that is a dark reflection or echo of our world. It is a place of decay and death. A plane out of phase. A place of monsters. It is right next to you and you don't even see it.”
Stranger Things, Chapter 5: “The Flea and the Acrobat” = Dustin
The Upside Down shares similar characteristics to the Negative Zone: the time passes differently in the UD. It is uninhabited and inhospitable.
So, yep, Dustin really is our little Mr Fantastic <3 We stan a good nerd here :)
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