Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has been as expansive as it is lengthy, including virtually every major hero from the pages of the studio’s comic books. Even throughout all this, it’s run into a handful of huge limitations, driven largely by one fact: Marvel doesn’t own the movie rights to all of its characters. Back before the MCU was even a glimmer of an idea, the publishing house sold off the rights to many of its most popular characters. The result was Sony owning Spider-Man, and 20th Century Fox snagging both the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Recent flops at the box office though have sent both studios crawling back to Marvel for help and guidance.
Sony’s much-publicized Spider-Man deal ended up working for both sides: Marvel gets to include the web-slinger as a supporting character in Captain America: Civil War, and Sony gets to make a standalone reboot that takes place in the MCU. Given the struggles 20th Century Fox has faced getting the Fantastic Four franchise off the ground (and their relative success with X-Men), it only made sense to strike a similar deal. The agreement, as reported by Den of Geek: Marvel gets the full rights back for Fantastic Four, in exchange for the TV rights to X-Men.
It’s a swap that works for everyone for a whole host of reasons. Fox gets to expand its most successful comic book property, while dumping another that’s proven to be nothing but trouble for them. Marvel in turn gets Fantastic Four back in full, which affects both its movie and comic universes. Its publishing house had recently cancelled the published Fantastic Four series as a result of a previous deal, that stated any character created in the written series would have its movie rights default to Fox. To combat this, they opted to simply stop writing the comics. Now though, Marvel can bring the characters back in full force on all fronts.
On Fox’s side, it’s a massive win for its X-Men universe. They’ll be running with two different series, entitled Hellfire and Legion respectively. The former of the two will focus on the Hellfire Club, a fictional secret society founded by Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. Legion on the other hand will hone on the mutant by the same name, who possesses multiple personalities, each of which features a separate superpower. Plot-wise there’s little else we know, but it’s nothing short of a goldmine for Fox, especially as they look to continue capitalizing on the comic book craze that’s swept through Hollywood.
If there’s one thing this tells us, it’s that one-by-one, studios are beginning to realize that Marvel is the one true home for superheroes. Sony’s promising start to its Spider-Man franchise didn’t last long until it completely took a nosedive, and Fox has yet to make a solid Fantastic Four movie in three tries, the last of which is widely regarded as its worst yet. The MCU affords Marvel a vast wealth of resources and built-in audiences, and without its support, the studio’s wayward properties have failed to meet their full potential (X-Men excepted).
As of now, the prevailing rumor is that Marvel will roll with a standalone Fantastic Four film in 2020, giving them a huge new resource to keep its movie universe fresh. With heroes like Black Panther and Doctor Strange getting their own installments, getting a first-tier property back from Fox kicks the door right wide open for the future of the MCU. The real winners here are of course the fans, who’ll finally get the Fantastic Four movie they’ve always wanted, in addition to not one, but two X-Men TV series. Stay tuned for more info as it rolls in! If official confirmation comes down on high from Marvel and Fox, you can bet the floodgates will pour open.
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