Could Marvel Finally Be Adding the X-Men to the MCU?

Avengers versus X-Men
Source: Marvel Comics

Marvel’s been an unstoppable force in the realm of superhero cinema, beginning in 2008 with Iron Man, and growing into the beastly expanded universe we have today. At every turn, it’s managed to bury its DC competitors (Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy excepted), and it’s made them the undisputed champions both critically and at the box office. But even through all this, the studio has always had an Achilles heel, centered around the fact that Marvel doesn’t actually own the movie rights to many of its own characters.

Sony’s run of Spider-Man films pre-dates even the earliest days of the MCU. 20th Century Fox has been butchering the Fantastic Four since 2005, while its popular X-Men franchise goes all the way back to 2000. Recently though, Sony came to terms with Marvel Studios over the web-slinger, agreeing to share Spider-Man for the good of both operations. It paid off in spades in Captain America: Civil War, and soon Sony will get a fully Marvel-backed standalone film that’s almost guaranteed to make them huge piles of money.

Given the relative success of Sony’s deal with Marvel, you can bet that the folks over at 20th Century Fox are intently watching. Matt Key, the producer on Kevin Smith’s “Fatman on Batman” podcast recently cited rumors that seem to confirm this too:

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, “Oh, you 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.

This is far from a guarantee of anything, but what it does show us is that Fox is standing up and taking notice of the success of Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man team-up, a deal that benefits both sides. For Sony, it gets the backing of the MCU and the money that comes along with it. Marvel in turn gets to bring one of its most iconic heroes back into the fold, while assuming creative control over Sony’s standalone Spider-Man movies. Money-wise, Sony still gets to keep every dollar from its own Spidey films, and Marvel gets the same for any other MCU film that prominently features the web-slinger.

Fox making a similar deal would make a whole lot of sense. X-Men: Apocalypse failed to impress at the box office, and netted the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score for the franchise since the unmitigated disaster that was X-Men Origins. And that’s not even going into the fact that the Fantastic Four have never quite clicked for Fox. Deadpool is the only superhero that’s managed to hit the mark for Fox in the meantime. So while we may be “years away from that ever possibly happening,” there’s no doubting that it would be a veritable shot in the arm for all of Fox’s superhero properties.

A Fox/Marvel deal wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented either. The two studios recently came to terms over two separate spinoff TV series set in the X-Men universe, Hellfire and Legion. Whether that could lead to a much larger discussion about sharing the X-Men movie-verse is anyone’s guess, yet it still shows a willingness on both sides to come to the table and negotiate.

Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War | Source: Marvel

When it comes down to brass tax, the best thing for 20th Century Fox would be sharing both X-Men and Fantastic Four. Hell, it even has a silver bullet in Deadpool that makes it so the studio would be coming from a solid bargaining position. Imagine an Infinity War movie that manages to incorporate Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen into the greater narrative? Or an X-Men movie set in a universe where both the Avengers and Inhumans exist? An agreement between the two studios opens up nigh infinite possibilities from a story perspective.

When it comes to large-scale agreements like this would be, “we’d get a really cool story” isn’t what matters most to the people in charge. No, money is what talks, and an MCU with the X-Men would make a whole lot of it. Here we circle back to Sony’s Spider-Man deal. Tom Holland as Peter Parker was one of the many highlights of Civil War, but the real test will come when Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters next summer. When it inevitably makes a killing at the box office, there’s little doubt Fox will be watching closely.

With two Marvel properties still in hand, 20th Century Fox has a whole lot to bring to the table for the MCU. A deal similar to Sony’s would only require folding its universe into Marvel’s, and frequently borrowing characters, all while Fox still gets to reap the rewards of standalone X-Men films. Basically, it’s a no-lose for all involved. It’s just up to the higher-ups at both studios to get it done, both for our benefit and, even more significantly, theirs.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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