Despite all of its success, one thing that has disappointed fans of Marvel Studios’ interconnected series of superhero blockbusters is the studios inability to bring certain favorite comics characters into the films due to their film rights belonging to other studios. Marvel has recently worked around that prohibition with Sony, allowing Spider-Man to join into the Marvel Cinematic Universe while maintaining his own franchise through a rather unique sharing agreement. Could Twentieth Century Fox, who currently hold the film rights to both the popular Fantastic Four and X-Men superhero teams, be contemplating a similar agreement with Marvel?
According to Matt Key, a producer on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, that just may be the case. Speaking on this weekend’s installment of Collider’s Heroes video podcast, he stated –
I’ve heard from a few of my sources, my little birds, that Fox and Marvel have… kind of talked, but not really, but like there’s interest from Fox, like, “Ooh, y’know, what they did with Sony and Spider-Man is actually pretty cool, like, maybe…” We’re years away from that ever possibly happening, but I think that’s what it would take. Fox joining hands with Marvel…”
Well, that seems pretty much vaporware, I know. More the musings of fans who are excited by the Marvel-Sony Spider-Man deal and how well Tom Holland was received as the wallcrawler in Captain America: Civil War than anything else. And right now there is probably some Fox exec thinking that it would be pretty cool to have sushi for lunch but will still wind up having something else. So for right now, I am not placing more than a modicum of trust that there is anything substantial to this report.
That’s not to say that there could not be a movement in Fox to explore the idea of striking their own character sharing agreement with Marvel. Last year’s Fantastic Four was an unmitigated disaster financially and critically. If they aren’t willing to allow the franchise to remain untouched for years, something would need to be done in the short term to remove the toxic taint of failure associated with it. Having Marvel step in and assume creative control much in the same way they are doing with Spider-Man at Sony would go a long way in doing just that.
But what of Sony’s other Marvel Comics property, the X-Men? That is a franchise that has been doing pretty well for the studio. This year’s Deadpool was a smash hit and has a sequel lined up to begin production early next year. The third, and possibly final, installment of the Wolverine solo films is currently shooting. While last month’s X-Men: Apocalypse might not have performed up to expectations set by 2014’s Days Of Future Past, it still has done well enough at the box office for the studio to continue development on a direct sequel and further spinoffs. I think that Fox is feeling that they are managing their X-Men franchise just fine on their own.
As a fan, I would certainly love to see Fox hammer out some sort of deal that would lead to more characters being part of the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I suppose that could even lead to a deal between Fox and Sony allowing their respective characters to meet up in each others’ films, outside of the neutral ground of a Marvel Studios production. Surely I am not the only old school Marvel Comics fan who would enjoy seeing the playful rivalry between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch play out on the big screen? But as I said before, I am going to wait for some more solid reporting before I start getting my hopes up on this.