20th Century Fox
Another Fantastic Four is coming to theaters, and that means we all have an excuse to post a list of other “fantastic” foursomes in movies. There are a lot of them. So many that I figured I’d go all the way to 44, especially to put things into perspective regarding Marvel’s First Family and how disappointing they continue to be on the big screen.
Here are the most notable quartets in cinema and how they rank in comparison to the new superhero team showcase:
- The Fantastic Four
Fox can’t seem to get this group right, and maybe nobody can. Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and The Thing are incredible characters on the page, but their powers are kind of silly acted out. In Josh Trank’s reboot, they also lack chemistry. Interestingly, their fifth wheel, Doctor Doom, winds up being the most interesting.
- The Video Game Busters From Pixels
If they had another name, I don’t recall. Like much of the movie, there’s little consistency to this team tasked with saving the world from an alien invasion. But no matter the makeup of the four, it always includes the great Peter Dinklage.
- Vinnie Chase and His Entourage
After too many seasons and an unnecessary movie, the Entourage guys have worn out their welcome, but at the beginning Vinnie, Johnny, E and Turtle were a fun gang to spend time with for a half hour every Sunday. There’s still just a sliver of that in their big screen effort.
- The Bachelor Party From The Hangover
Another group that started out strong and has lost our favor. It also works best when just more of a trio.
In Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s doc Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, we meet a heavy metal quartet in various forms, plus a reminder of a prior lineup, as they transition between members and struggle to remain a solid entity. Metallica is a foursome by name, even if the four individuals aren’t always the same, but if we have to technically distinguish a foursome by the four, not the sum, the re-formation with new bassist Robert Trujillo is the obvious conclusion of the aforementioned point.
- Interscope Communications
- The Three Men and a Baby
It’s the baby (and later Little Lady) who brings this group together – obviously literally.
- The Siblings of Four Brothers
Spoiler alert: if these guys could have maintained the magic number to the end, they might have placed higher.
- The Ladies of Sex and the City
Like the guys of Entourage, this gang was better on the small screen, but they sure dressed well for the occasion of becoming movie stars.
- The A-Team
They’d also be nothing had there been no TV incarnation, but this special forces foursome has pretty decent chemistry in their recast form.
- The Buddies of American Pie
Before Stiffler made it a fivesome for the continuing franchise, the original American Pie was about four earnest, identifiable pals who make a pact to graduate non-virgins.
- New Line Cinema
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Whether represented through costumes, puppetry, animation or performance capture and CG, this team has always been, at the very least, radical.
- The Alien Busters of Evolution
Even if they are a blatant Ghostbusters knockoff (from the same director), this group is hilarious in their own right, and they included a woman so no need for an all-female version down the road.
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
A lot of credit goes to those pants, since we don’t see the four girls together much. Still, together or apart they’re a very likable bunch.
- The Doors
As a huge fan of The Doors and even Oliver Stone’s biopic, it’s painful to slot this one so low, but as portrayed in that movie they just aren’t enough of a unified whole.
- Veronica and the Heathers
Similarly, I’m torn about this group being so low, but the fact is that the movie Heathers is brilliant yet the foursome itself is an unlikable and incohesive clique, even if Veronica’s membership balances them out some.
- Paramount Pictures
- The Mean Girls of Mean Girls
Also sort of a trio plus one, this Heathers-inspired gang is more wholesome, and when they do get along, as during the Christmas concert, they’re quite fetch.
- The Terrorists of Four Lions
Spotlighting the four terrorists of Four Lions is not meant to be an endorsement of their jihadist ways, just their hilarious portrayal.
- The Kids of South Park
Even without the TV show coming before it, the movie would be an enjoyable satire through the culture-skewering POV of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny.
- The Pothead Roomies of Half-Baked
A lot of great foursome films are best when allowed to focus on just three of the members, as this stoner comedy does when one of the gang is jailed for most of the plot.
- The Four Musketeers
The unfortunate thing for a classic foursome like Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artigan is that they feature in so many movies that a few bad ones weigh down the great ones. All for one, indeed, sadly.
- Universal Studios
- Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
One, two, three, four, they are Sex Bob-omb! And never mind if all four don’t ever play in the band at the same time. They’re always a quartet.
- The Hobbits of The Lord of the Rings
There are a ton of characters in the LOTR trilogy and even a bunch in the Fellowship, but at its emotional center are the loveable Hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin.
- The Monkees
A rare group from TV that got better with their leap to the big screen (in Head), or at least weirder and more interesting.
- The Dandy Warhols
Whether or not you dig their music, these “heroes” of Ondi Timoner’s documentary Dig! (and one of the best reasons to watch Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs) are a fascinating act, especially as pitted against the “villains” of The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
- Warner Bros.
- The Droogs
Not to condone their activities in A Clockwork Orange, but this violent gang sure does make for great Halloween costumes.
- The Griswolds
This would be the original Griswolds (Clark, Ellen, Rusty, Audrey), not the family of the latest Vacation installment.
- The Soggy Bottom Boys
It’d be nice if guitarist Tommy Johnson had more going on as a character, but as a whole these guys from O Brother, Where Art Though? are probably the funniest fake music act in all of film (yes, even funnier than Spinal Tap).
- The Misfortunate Foursome From Deliverance
The movie is old enough that it’s not a spoiler to acknowledge that they’re only a trio in the end, right? Still, from start to finish there’s a increased bond between these guys (even including the dead one), for unfortunate reasons, without comparison.
- Channel 4 News Team
The boys from Anchorman would place higher if they weren’t diluted some by the sequel. They’re still the second-funniest film foursome of all time.
- Paramount Vantage
- The Rolling Stones
Having been in maybe literally a million documentaries, we’ve gotten a chance to see these rock icons (whom, yes, have at times been more than a quartet) every which way but loosely portrayed. Why didn’t they ever star in a fictional movie like everybody else did following The Beatles’ big screen successes?
- Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
I think Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is the only movie on this list featuring the sexual kind of foursome, but even without it the double couple are a great group, ironically mostly for how they have problems keeping their unions together.
- The Presidents of Mount Rushmore
I never said these foursomes need to be actual characters, right? It’s impossible to imagine North by Northwest without these guys.
- The March Sisters
The girls of “Little Women” are so endearing that it’s been very difficult to make a bad movie about them. But we’ll see how well they translate to the upcoming gritty post-apocalyptic TV version.
- The Replicants of Blade Runner
We don’t really get them all together on screen, and admittedly it’s mainly the duo of Roy and Pris that deserves this placement. But as a foursome, they are the best villain group of all time.
- Columbia Pictures
- The Boys of Stand By Me
These guys make every moviegoer wish they’d come of age so momentously alongside three others, through debates about Goofy and trips to see dead bodies alike.
- The Real Salesmen of Salesman
The Rabbit, The Badger, The Bull and The Gipper – most of them have animal nicknames yet they’re all such perfect specimens of humankind.
- The Ghostbusters
Smart, funny, heroic – we need nothing more in our saviors. Except maybe a feminine touch? One year from now, presumably a second Ghostbusters team will easily knock the Fantastic Four off.
- The Burglars From Rififi
I imagine some one doing a list of favorite film foursomes and including the heist team from Ant-Man, but anyone who has seen Jules Dassin’s classic crime film doesn’t even recognize any thieving quartet but this one.
- The Four Citizens of Citizenfour
In one Hong Kong hotel room, a filmmaker, two reporters and a former government contractor blew the whistle on one of the biggest stories of our time, and we have the benefit of watching it all go down in Laura Poitras’s documentary.
- The Incredibles
Not officially, but technically The Incredibles is the best Fantastic Four movie we have seen and likely ever will see. And the family of four at its center remains the greatest superhero team yet and maybe for all time.
- George & Martha & Nick & Honey From Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
This group offers up the most awkward and riveting dinner party, and there certainly isn’t a better batch of performances anywhere on this list.
- The Beatles
No other rock group has made a better leap to the big screen – outside of docs, anyway. So what if we’re seeing fictionalized versions of the Fab Four in A Hard Days Night and the rest? Music is all about false image, and theirs remains one of the most delightfully entertaining.
- The Fantastic Foursome of Oz
Forget Toto for a moment, and let’s all agree that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are the most magical mix of four characters in cinema history. And even though the land of Oz has been portrayed in numerous movies, many of them bad, the 1939 Wizard of Oz is actually wonderful enough that it can’t be pulled down by the lesser adaptations.
- The Marx Brothers
Every comedy troupe should be a foursome, collectively representing a full variety of all levels of comedy. None will ever be as brilliant as these guys, but they’re welcome to try. If only they were still alive to do their own attempt at a Fantastic Four movie – Groucho as Mr. Fantastic, Chico as Human Torch, Zeppo as The Thing, Margaret Dumont as Invisible Woman and Harpo as a speechless Doctor Doom.