For Months Fox TV has been in negotiations with Marvel Entertainment for the rights to develop a live-action X-Men television series and yesterday they announced that a deal was made. Marvel TV and Fox will be co-producing two new series, one titled Hellfire for Fox and the other titled Legion for FX.
The partnership involves a team-up between Marvel TV executives and producers from Fox’s Marvel universe (Fantastic Four and X-Men) and represents a monumental moment for the future of Marvel adaptations. For all the effort Marvel has put into blocking and hiding the Fantastic Four and X-Men in licensing and merchandise over the last few years, now Marvel will be helping make and market Fox’s X-Men properties – at least on the TV front. These announcements are appearing on the homepage of Marvel.com so the question is, what does Marvel get in return?
Marvel and Fox are co-producing the two shows with Fox handling the actual physical production but there’s no doubt revenue sharing of some sort in place. But is that enough for Marvel to greenlight a rival studio’s programming?
The obvious wishful answer would be that the larger arrangement between Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment included Marvel’s film division being able to use the Fantastic Four and their supporting villains and cosmic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Realistically, such a deal would not involve Fox selling the rights back, but rather partnering and co-producing something Fantastic Four related just like Sony and Marvel are doing with Spider-Man. We speculated this as an eventual reality since the day Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot opened in theaters in August. For a variety of reasons, that film by Fox’s Marvel team crushed the Fantastic Four property and chances of the already-scheduled sequel coming in 2017 are seemingly nonexistent.
Explained: How Fox & Marvel Can Save The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four brand has not been backed by Marvel, not visible in merchandise or on television, doesn’t even have its own comic series, and now has turned moviegoers against it in the worst way possible. There’s only a bleak future for the Fantastic Four as they currently exist, isolated at Twentieth Century Fox. Yes, the situation is that bad:
- Fantastic Four director Josh Trank responds to critics
- Fantastic Four Box Office Suggests Major Loss for Fox
- Fantastic Four Is The Worst Reviewed Marvel Movie Ever
- Fantastic Four Box Office Opening Weekend a “Nightmare”
So, when the X-Men TV news broke last night, shared by official channels on both Fox and Marvel’s sides, there was a clear reason to be excited. Fox and Marvel teaming up is wonderful on every front. It means more programming on TV and it means Marvel’s now working for instead of against Fox’s properties.
We’ve known for years that Marvel Studios wants to use the cosmic characters and alien races/factions that Fox has (and isn’t using themselves), so logic would dictate that in negotiations with Fox, Marvel would seek the ability to do so. We said as much last night, and this morning rumors surfaced stating that Marvel was successful in doing just that – that they’ve reacquired the Fantastic Four and are planning a film reboot for 2020. It’s not a stretch given the timing of last night’s partnership announcement coming just days after Marvel announced three more MCU films for 2020, none of which have titles yet. We’re told Marvel knows what these three projects are but have yet to make anything official. We can confirm that none of those three are actually the Fantastic Four…
Next Page: No Fantastic Four Deal Has Been Made (Yet)
As we understand it though from multiple sources, Fox has not given Marvel back the Fantastic Four. At least not yet, but we do expect that the Fox-Marvel partnership and Fox programming announcements appearing on Marvel.com yesterday to be just the beginning.
Fox finds itself in the same position Sony Pictures was in last year. Once the infamous Sony hack confirmed that there were discussions between Sony and Marvel about co-producing movies and bringing Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony was in a losing battle. It was either make The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Sinister Six continuing off the lackluster Amazing Spider-Man 2 in an increasingly competitive environment against larger comic book universes from DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios or make a Spider-Man movie where the character could interact with The Avengers and the happenings of the MCU. Which would make more money and which is more exciting for moviegoers? Spider-Man shouldn’t exist in a world where he’s the only hero. Sony and everyone involved with The Amazing Spider-Man agrees.
For Fox, they can make little money (or none at all) with another Fantastic Four movie where the heroes are in a world on their own, fighting a limited library of villains, or these characters can exist as they do in Marvel Comics’ greatest stories where Reed Richards bounces ideas off of Bruce Banner, T’Challa, and Tony Stark; where The Avengers can fight Doctor Doom, and where the Guardians of the Galaxy can team-up with Silver Surfer. Expectations for the future of Fox’s Fantastic Four have to compete against the idea of the FF in the MCU so continuing with them on their own isn’t an appealing option.
Again, keep in mind, insiders from three sources (including Fox in a statement to comicbook.com) claim that the Fantastic Four are not back at Marvel. Such a deal can be made though. After all, with producers Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner involved in the Marvel-Fox TV partnership and exec producing their two new shows, they’re the ones who can work something out with Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige. Don’t expect to see a Fantastic Four announcement for 2020 though. It’s not part of Marvel’s plan, but Phase 3 can shift again (it already has twice) when more deals are made. And there will be more deals made.
The question though is whether or not Marvel Studios even wants the Fantastic Four. We expect not as a standalone feature, but their characters can certainly be used in other movies, especially their villains and cosmic characters.
For Fox, if their X-Men franchise starts to go cosmic after X-Men: Apocalypse ends the universe (and sort of relaunches it) as we currently know it, they can’t give up the Fantastic Four because they need their vast library of non-Earth lore for future movies.
Sources: Fox, Marvel, Comicbook.com