Fantastic Four Conspiracy: Is Marvel’s CEO Trying To Hinder Fox’s Movie Plans?

Published 3 months ago by , Updated July 10th, 2014 at 1:28 pm,

Fantastic Four Marvel Zombies Fantastic Four Conspiracy: Is Marvels CEO Trying To Hinder Foxs Movie Plans?

At New York Toy Fair in February, merchandise tied to 2014 Marvel-branded movie releases earned major buzz and plenty of headlines from movie and collector blogs and mainstream press. We saw toy props, Hasbro action figures and LEGO sets – among other goodies – for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. For X-Men: Days of Future Past, there was practically nothing.

The same story holds true for 2011′s X-Men: First Class, the previous franchise team-up installment; First Class and its successful followup in Days of Future Past got some Minimates figures from Diamond Select – and that was it. There are Hasbro Marvel Legends X-Men figures coming later this year, but none tied to the latest film.

Perhaps the tonally darker X-Men movies are simply less appealing to kids and merchandisers compared to their Avengers and Spider-Man counterparts, or perhaps it’s something more. Go to the official Marvel.com website and click the movies tab. Marvel is promoting its own Marvel Studios projects because they don’t own the film rights to the X-Men. Twentieth Century Fox owns that license alongside the Fantastic Four - just like Sony owns Spider-Man.

The odd scattering of properties dates back to the ’90s when, during a time of bankruptcy, Marvel sold off film licenses to most of their library. The company has since reacquired most of their properties, aside from the key aforementioned flagship brands. [See a full breakdown of character ownership HERE.]

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The Fantastic Four Conspiracy

fantastic four 2015 reboot details Fantastic Four Conspiracy: Is Marvels CEO Trying To Hinder Foxs Movie Plans?

Because of the reality that key characters are still outside Marvel’s cinematic grasp, reports this week are painting a potentially dark picture for the comic books behind these movie franchises. Bleeding Cool reveals that Marvel Comics is planning to end (or put on hiatus) Fantastic Four and its Ultimate Fantastic Four counterpart later this year. The characters can still appear in other books and crossover events, but their two series will not be in print – if insider info proves true.

Why would Marvel do such a thing during the 75th anniversary of Marvel Comics, just as the Fantastic Four movie reboot enters production? Well, the answer is in the question, and it’s because Marvel’s high-ups may not want to promote the competition; according to Bleeding Cool’s insiders, Marvel is attempting to spotlight its own properties that are getting eventual film treatment, like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Inhumans. They claim that when it comes to internal promotion, it’s these books getting pushed more than the popular X-titles (which consistently sell well), and as for crossover events, the X-Men will only get some titles if shared with other teams (i.e. AXIS – the upcoming Avengers/X-Men event this fall).

In a followup article, Bleeding Cool added credence to the bigger picture issue this presents. Fantastic Four imagery was apparently taken down at Marvel HQ and an artist claims that they were instructed by Marvel not to use “FF characters or supporting cast such as Dr Doom, Galactus, Surfer, Skrulls etc” when it came to sketches for the 75th anniversary. Another artist backed the claims up, submitting an instruction sheet (check it out here) from Marvel which read, “all Marvel characters related to Fantastic Four are now off limits and will be immediately rejected by Marvel.” It even listed the characters that couldn’t be used. Even Fantastic Four-related assets have been reportedly been taken down by Marvel, so that promotional partners and licensors can’t access them.

So, is Marvel actually attempting to push away the Fantastic Four to minimize promotion of Fox’s in-development FF movie reboot?

fantastic four movie reboot release date 2015 Fantastic Four Conspiracy: Is Marvels CEO Trying To Hinder Foxs Movie Plans?

Comic Book Resources stepped in and confirmed with their own inside sources that indeed, a “hiatus” was/is being planned for Fantastic Four books – but with all this bad buzz resulting from this revelation, these plans could of course change. The timing of such a hiatus is indeed odd, given the summer 2015 release plans for the Fantastic Four movie.

A third report from Bleeding Cool claims from additional multiple sources that all of this may be down to the decisions of Marvel Comics CEO Isaac Perlmutter, who allegedly has an issue with seeing Marvel Comics give free promotion to Fox’s work, hence the minimizing of new X-Men characters and promotion, and plans to put a stop to the Fantastic Four.

You can pile together hearsay, rumors and reports from recent years which saw Marvel try to get back Galactus and Silver Surfer in exchange for an extension on Daredevil rights – a case where Fox wouldn’t play ball. Some even say that scene-stealer Quicksilver was added to X-Men: Days of Future Past instead of the originally intended Juggernaut character as a shot towards Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, since it’s also attempting to introduce a version of Quicksilver. That’s all circumstance and may not mean anything, but the idea that Marvel isn’t in the business of promoting Fox properties is absolutely true.

Update: Oddly enough, Fantastic Four’s director Josh Trank was just tapped by Disney to helm a standalone Star Wars movie which effectively may remove him from the director’s chair of Fantastic Four 2 which is already scheduled for 2017.

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Next: The Marvel 75th Anniversary Issue

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TAGS: fantastic four, spider-man, x-men

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  1. Isn’t this one of the signs of the apocolypse?

  2. I’m not sure why would anyone call this a conspiracy theory. It’s obvious Marvel has no business promoting competition even if said competition is using their own IP, because they’re getting little in return. They can’t really cut Fox out of the movie deals without being accused of bad faith, so they’re going to try and minimize their exposure.

    If the idea that comics help movies sell well is true, it might just as well work.

  3. Great coverage and critical analysis of the situation Rob Keyes! Love this article. The quote from Uatu at the end was also a nice touch.

    No mention of the “death of Wolverine” though? If officially killing off a major character in your franchise, whose whole thing is about not dying in the first place, if that’s not clear evidence that Marvel is trying to shut Fox out, then I don’t know what is.

  4. In general, I see nothing wrong with Marvel stopping the merchandising for entities for which they don’t have the movie rights. That kinda’ sucks for the comics, but it may be part of a larger, long-range business plan to get those entities back in the fold.

    When you get to X-Men movie 12 or FF movie 5 or 6, the box-office return may not be there like it is now, and without the addition of merchandising to sweeten the take, the chance of Fox selling the rights back to Marvel may not be so far-fetched.

    …..or, maybe they’re just being dicks…

  5. Not going into details like i did previously but… I told ya =)

  6. All I got out of this article was Spider-Man in Avengers 3. Giggity giggity.

    • I don’t think you quite know how the “Giggity giggity thing works.

      Now, on the other hand if you had said…

      “Three Avengers in Spider-man ….. GIGITTY!” (^-^)

  7. Max Landis is a no name and Rob Liefeld is a shady hack artist who is defeated by drawing feet. Both want to be relevant so they post BS.

    • Thank You! That dude is such a bum. If I need a good laugh I simply pull up the various websites that have collected his most notorious art work. Can’t stand that guy. Anyway this was a very interesting read. Its kinda got me bummed out but I guess theres the comics the fans all love and then theres the business behind it and it doesnt make business sense to support your competition cause at the end of the day they are competators for our money even though I saw Cap 2 twice, ASM 2 once and DOFP twice. That moron Breevort can say what he wants but its pretty clear what theyre doing. I dont read FF so it being cancelled doesnt bother me but there is the principal of it. FF started Marvel Comics man

  8. I honestly don’t recall any X-Men action figures as a child other than those based on the 90s cartoon so it’s not really them blocking promotion of FOX films based on Marvel properties in my opinion.

    I still have fond memories of myself and a friend playing with our action figures and needing Guile from Street Fighter 2, Scorpion and Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat and the Predator teaming up to take down my 12 inch Sabretooth action figure.

    • There was an entire ToyBiz line of “X-men” movie figures…and its sequel.

      Again, IF Marvel is behaving in such a petty manner, I wonder if such cockiness will affect the favorable perceptions of tge publisher/studio by its loyal fanbase…probably not.

      • Sorry, trying to respond but it keeps flagging my comment as spam for some reason.

        What I tried to say was that only comic book stores seem to sell X-Men action figures over here and there aren’t many of those around because they’re extremely niche and don’t get many sales compared to larger, more well known stores who sell Avengers and Spider-Man toys.

  9. If (IF) this proves true, it would indeed make Marvel seem petty. Personally, I would also find them to be scummy.

  10. Never thought promoting the products from a competitor group is a smart idea either way. Marvel is doing what the best they can do to get their older properties back.

  11. One of the things people need to take into account is the length of time Fox has had both the FF and X-Men right. They’ve made a total of 9 films in 20 years. Only 9 across 2 of Marvel’s biggest properties, 5 X-Men, 2 Wolverine and 2 Fantastic 4. Fox has done a fair job of squandering both properties. It’s pretty fair to say fan’s have not been entirely thrilled with about half (4) of the films Fox has put out in that time. Since Marvel Studio’s has started making their own films they have made a total of 9 in 6 years… well 10 if we count GotG which is just a couple months away. Granted, Marvel is 100% committed to making their movies, where Fox clearly is not.

    Fox is seems to have done the bare minimum to keep the rights from reverting back. Only recently did Fox kicked things into gear to show any real commitment to trying to actually make good movies based on these properties.

    Seriously, can anyone really blame Marvel/Disney for squeezing Fox to get their properties back? I don’t.

    • it’s all about the money…

      if Marvel has weak competition it’ll be the same as Fox was with the first films…

  12. Its just business…nothing personal IMO

  13. What?

  14. I hope Marvel brings Spidey back home where he belongs real soon. I can wait on X-Men and FF.

    Tom Brevoort is a raging a-hole.

    • I don’t, I quite like the fact we’re finally getting some real Spider-Man films with Marc Webb at the helm.

      I wouldn’t mind crossovers but let Sony keep the character.

      • “Real Spider-man films with Marc Webb”!! LOL
        What was that, the joke of the day??

        • wait they made a second amazing spider-man? must have missed that one (on purpose). :P

  15. The FF4 comic doesn’t sell well, the last issue sold under 40,000 copies. That may have something to do with it. Assuming everyone that buys the comic would go to the movie that makes a whopping $400,000 which is an insignificant dent in box office.

    I’m not sure how toys affect movie sales, I think it’s the other way around, no?

    • They can help massively with promotion, see the buzz over the recent Tranformer toys.

    • The sales of FF are mid-range. They sell about the same as Cap America, Thor and Iron Man. Unless Marvel wants to drop those books too due to mid-range, and respectable. sales numbers, the cool. Cutting off your nose in spite of your face?

  16. Doesn’t it seem more likely with the stunt casting of the Fantastic Four, that they will put the books on hiatus in order to re-brand the FF, and reboot with the new, more diverse lineup? Doesn’t it make sense to keep them off the Marvel Promotional materials until they can integrate the new suddenly African-American Johnny Storm, and younger Reed Richards? Marvel still owns the licensing rights to all materials involved with the FF. They know if anything, they aren’t giving free promotion to Fox, it’s vice versa. You saw the movie and now you’re going to buy an FF T-Shirt? merchandising cash goes to Marvel. Now is it possible that even MARVEL believes that this new reboot for Fantastic Four is going to tank, and they want no part of it? That’s likely too.

    • They don’t need to debut a younger Reed Richards in the books because Reed was 23 years old in the Ultimate FF books, which first released in 2004.

    • Actually, the “merchandising cash” is what Marvel and Fox are “battling” over. Marvel knows real fan-boy’s buy the limited edition action figures, t-shirts, comics and other novelty items. I have about 15 different Batman action figures and I stopped playing with toys about 20 years ago. When there’s a new Batman action figure, if it’s cool enough; I’ll buy it for $25. The fact is, they have to keep making the merchandise every year, so people buy it and stay interested in the property. There really hasn’t been any new FF4 merchandise (toys etc) in a very long time, and that would be strictly Marvel’s decision. It’s no secret that Marvel wanted the FF4 property back as the licence was about to expire under Fox. So Fox gives Marvel the finger and fast-tracked the reboot and now Marvel is giving Fox the finger right back.

  17. If you only looked at the issue from a broad, top-level perspective, it does seem a bit low-class. However, if Marvel wanted to give FF short shrift, the cold shoulder, if you will, then FF are the most likely candidates for it. Sure, they were Marvel’s first family, and a significant player in the early years with big storylines, but they clearly have diminished a lot in recent decades. The concept is aged. It lacks significant cool factor, like Spidey, X-Men, and the Avengers. It’s a much more difficult setup to update to modern times and make relevant in the way that most comic book movies are doing these days. The powers of the FF members are really hard sells. They translate really poorly to film. Elastic man? Invisible woman? Flaming man? OK, that can be done pretty well nowadays. The Thing? Not so much. I can see Marvel holding a meeting and saying “OK boys, if we have to put the screws to one of the titles that isn’t ours, who would it be, so that we incur the least damage?” Obviously not Spidey. No way. X-Men, no way. FF, way. They had two very cheesy films that don’t fit into the mold and aren’t part of any other universe. FF got put into a corner in such a way that it’s easy to cut them out without it looking too bad.

  18. I will explain in simple words why this is a stupid theory.
    1.Marvel had 2 major x-men books (all new x-men/uncanny x-men) written by Bendis, who is pretty much their most well-known and trustworthy writter at the moment. Aside from that, they are making solo titles for Magneto and Nightcrawler, and there was a Gambit title a year ago. Also, they have x-factor, 2 different volumes of uncanny x-force in the past year, amazing x-men, and all women x-men book. Also, Wolverine and the x-men, wolverine, the savage wolverine and now a solo Cyclops title. They also had a HUGE avengers vs x-men crossover last year. I think they really promote their characters.
    2. Fantastic Four books don’t sell. People don’t care that much anymore. They tried it with 2 titles last year, Fantastic Four and FF. The books did not sell. They have a new Fantastic Four volume now btw. Suzan Storm played a major part in Age Of Ultron and Reed was featured prominently in the New Avengers book
    3. Comic book titles don’t promote the film to any significant amount. It’s not comic book geeks (including me) that bring cash to the registers. It’s mostly the rest of the people that don’t read comics. It’s not the comic books that sell the movie. It’s actually the other way around.
    4. Same thing goes for toys. Merchandise makes more profit from the people who saw the movie. Nobody’s going to see the movie because of the cool toy-line. Also, x-men films don’t lend themselves to merchandise that well. They have a more serious tone and they deal with more “heavy” issues in a less flamboyand way in comparison, let’s say, to the Avengers.
    So drop it, it’s a lame accusation.

  19. Doing what they want with their own property, makes sense. Besides last I heard no one even reads FF anymore anyway

  20. Episode 07 Season 4 : The Marvel Conspiracy.
    I’ m Jesse Ventura and this is Conspiracy Theory.

    Jesse Storms the Marvel Building to try to get some answers.
    Jesse : the plot thickens…

    • Yes because eventually Jesse will begin to miss his weekly FF comics and throw a fit.

  21. I don’t blame Marvel at all.

    I am still going to see FF reboot but I wounder if Marvel was peeved about the Johnny Storm casting.

    Not to mention that I don’t think FF sales do well. I frequent my local comic shop once a month and I’ve never seen 1 person buy FF comics uless they are older. Right now Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, Daredevil, Deadpool, X-Men are the properties doing well from what i’ve seen.

    Also, why should Marvel promote other movies from studios that they get little if any return on from the movies? Not to mention that Fox has taken LOTS of liberties on its movies through deviating from comics. Fox doesn’t have a good history of writing great X-Men movie stories or making its movies all run together appropriately. Marvel might be getting a little frustrated with how Fox has handled Marvel characters.

    • I guess the casting played a part in this, I mean how fustrating is it for them to have to retcon or fix stories to tie in with the movies, it was much easier with Nick Fury because black Nick Fury already existed in one parrallel universe within the marvel mythology. By the time the Avengers movie came out all they had to do was replace white Nick Fury with a Nick Fury Jr in the mainstream universe. With Johnny Storm however they can’t really change his race, unless they kill him and replace with completely different guy with similar powers… except he already died and came back not too long ago. Other than that, the real motive would be that they want give as little free promotion as possilbe to the fox owned marvel properties.

    • Plus i wouldn’t say only old people read FF, I’m 23 and I’m currently reading the FF issues they’re selling. IF they’re not selling well it’s because compared with the other titles FF didn’t get great promotion in terms of good film adaptations or animated series. Compared with X-men, Spiderman and Avengers, FF had only 2 animated series decades apart, with the later one lasting only one season.

      • Lol…I never meant only old people read FF. Imeant that most people stop in to pick up the older titles/stories back when FF was good IMO

        Either way, I read FF when I was younger but never could get into it…

  22. Could this tie in with Marvel’s plan to kill off Wolverine?

    • Killing off Fox’s version of the Ironman Posterboy seems extremely diabolical. But I doubt Fox will pay any attention of it, it does however seem all well timed what with HugH Jackman considering retiring from the character after 2 more movies.

    • Strange timing with Marvel killing off Wolverine this year. Also maybe after the third Spider-Man movie Sony could have him show up in Avengers 3. Andrew Garfield is supposedly not coming back for a 4th film so that might make it easier to have a new Spider-Man show up in Avengers? Crazy times for superhero movies for sure.

  23. I was just at the Disney Store today and I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 merch all over the place. You are probably thinking, “What? How is that possible?”. Easy. Disney and Sony made a deal a few years back that gave Sony all the profits they earn from the box office from the movies, (As well as the home video and legal digital downloads.) in exchange for Disney to create and profit off any merch related to the films. So Disney does make money off the Sony produced Spider-Man movies, just not from ticket and DVD/Blu-ray sales. That kind of deal isn’t with Fox, unfortunately, and frankly I just don’t see ever happening. (Especially considering Disney owns Star Wars, which Fox lost as a franchise.) With Sony’s recent financial woes, I can totally see them teaming up with Disney to get Spidey move active in the MCU for a price. Although I would much rather them just sell it to Disney altogether. (Hated ASM2!!!) I just don’t see Fox giving up with portion of the Marvel pie anytime soon.

  24. Fantastic Four comics haven’t been selling well the past few years so I can see why it’s going on hiatus for a face lift / re-think.

    Also I sort of doubt comic book fans are what make movies based on comic books blockbusters to rake in the big money. It’s the casual audience that bring in the money and the casual audience isn’t going to care two figs about there not being a FF comic out leading up to the FF movie.

    So sure, maybe Marvel is giving the cold shoulder to Xmen and FF but I kind of doubt it’s going to hurt Fox in whether their upcoming movies do well or not.

  25. I think X-Men will do just fine with or without merchandising and comics support from the Marvel mothership.

    However I DO think that The Fantastic Four would be MUCH better served as part of the MCU. We’ve already heard they don’t plan on having FF as part of the X continuity, because if everyone hates the mutants, why would the FF be different? I am excited to see Fox’s new take on the property, but I think they should revert back to Marvel.

    Spider-Man could easily be introduced into the MCU and based on the crappy box office it seems like it would be a good move on the part of the declining film department at Sony.

    As a fan of pretty much all the marvel adaptations (except the FF films), I would be very happy with the MCU (including Spider-man as a joint Sony-Disney venture and FF) and an X-Men universe with Fox, since to have X-Men as part of the MCU we’d have to start from complete scratch and it wouldn’t jive with the history of the MCU.

    • I think Spider-Man will be used as more of a launching pad for getting Carnage, Venom, and The Sinister Six off and into their own universe, before Sony outright gives the Web-Head back. Or maybe they can even share he character and universe. I think where it’s concerned Sony should have the final say for a SPIDER-MAN film, but Marvel gets to dictate his usage in The Avengers.

  26. The reason why Marvel would put the Fantastic Four comic on hold is most likely due to the comics not selling well. Marvel will have an event (or two) and then reform the Fantastic Four and give them a whole new series which becomes the top selling comic that month.

    However, if I am wrong and Marvel is doing it to get their characters back to use in their own movie universe, they have a big battle with Xmen because of their success. I think that Sony and Disney will agree to have Spiderman join up with Avengers because FOX owns the movie rights to every mutant, which is about half the comic characters, and Disney/Marvel owns the rest besides Spider man and his villains. So to have Spiderman join Disney would be awesome.

    After all, Warner Brothers is trying to give us the entire Justice League because they own every DC character DC did not sell their characters to other companies. Marvel is thinking ahead and taking away DC’s only advantage before it becomes a problem.

    Either way, I predict that Marvel(/Disney) gets more money because of it.

  27. Another possibility: Fox is becoming a threat in the movieverse.

    In the past, you could say that Fox had no clue about how to handle their franchises (ie. Tom Rothman, FF1, FF2, X3, and X:Wolverine), but they’re now adopting the same shared movie universe as Marvel. If the X movie franchise continues to do well, and if the new FF movie knocks it out of the park, watch out.

    Finally, I believe this self promoting crap to be true. You see this all the time in the tech industry. In the end, it’s the content that matters, not an allegiance to one studio.

  28. maybe marvel got a hold of the script (and saw the horrible cast) and is trying their hardest to hide the abortion that will be the FF reboot movie ;) :P

    i can see that marvel really wants their rights back to everything, now that they’re owned by disney and can afford the money to make ‘decent’ entertainment mediums for their characters (to in turn make even more money). my only gripe with marvel is that their movies are bland, kid friendly and very unoriginal (script and action wise), hopefully guardians does well and deviates from the norm of marvel movies… though i doubt that granted how every character seems ot crack jokes and act like an idiot (from what i’ve seen so far).

  29. Tho I’m no big fan of cutthroat biz politics & practices, in this case, I have to side with Marvel; as said b4, Fox truly has done d*k squat when it comes to doing these IP’ justice; at best they can be credited for 1- kicking off the modern superhero film boom; 2- making 3 very good films: X2, DoFP & X-Men or The Wolverine (they can’t count as one, because neither garnered unanimous approval, but both have very strong elements – The Wolverine for being both bold & personal/intimate & X-Men for being The 1st modern superhero flick which hit more than it missed). But that’s it. 3 good films in 20 years. If nothing else, this example should help inform any future licensing deals cuz if they’d put in a clause about “Must be judicious enough in producing said properties often & successfully enough to continue/warrant IP License ownership”.

    Bottom line; the fact is that as a business strategy, Fox could well strategize “hey, Marvel films is big enough to threaten other studios (incl. us) more & more; let’s make sure they never get the rights back to their stuff cuz that would be such a big game changer considering how it would blow the doors right off the hinges to an even much much bigger shared Cinematic Universe than any have dared to fathom. Marvel could end up with a small m monopoly of the year by year movie board. Let’s do just enough so they can’t get it back”

    Seems like that’s what they’re doing, or have done so far, intentionally or not.
    I really believe that Marvel has to get these rights back. For them, the stories & the fans.

    OK, 2nd route: Come to an agreement, share the rights & produce them together. That’s the only solution that won’t prove to be messy down the line. The stories, the films & the fans will be well served by a solution like that.

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