UPDATE: Disney’s purchase of Fox has been made official. The original article follows.
While the idea of Disney purchasing 20th Century Fox once seemed like a dream that would allow the X-Men to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the prospect now appears to be an inevitability. And while there are many different concerns over what the future will hold for both companies if the deal goes through, one seems to be at the forefront for many fans: the Deadpool franchise as we know it is over.
The reasoning is that the family-friendly Disney brand (and the MCU itself) won’t faithfully translate the violent and foul-mouthed mercenary to the big screen the way Fox has done. Of course, this disregards that fact that Fox itself already ruined Deadpool once during his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Given how crucial Ryan Reynolds was to making Deadpool a reality, it’s clear that he’s far more responsible for the film’s tone than the studio it was released under. It’s also highly likely that Disney will keep Marvel Studios and the X-Men/Deadpool properties separate for the time being.
When you factor in Disney owning Marvel Comics (which have produced countless Deadpool stories in the past few years), Touchstone Pictures (which releases R-Rated content), and the Netflix shows (including the violent and bloody The Punisher and Daredevil), it’s fairly hard to make the argument that Disney will inevitably tone down Deadpool.
Disney’s Track Record
There’s no guarantee how the Disney/Fox deal will shake out, but fans worried that The Simpsons, Alien and Predator, and Deadpool will somehow be softened or dispensed with likely don’t need to worry. For one, many versions of those properties are well underway and are sure to stay on track over the next few years. Fox has a viable business plan for many of these properties, and Disney will hardly want to cut off multiple revenue streams from IPs they just spent billions of dollars purchasing.
In all likelihood, 20th Century Fox will undergo a name change and continue to operate as a separate banner within the Walt Disney Studios family. Disney owns a variety of different companies, from Marvel Entertainment to ESPN, with most fans of Mickey and Dory unaware of just how much exists in the umbrella. And while most fans are familiar with Pixar and Disney Animation and Lucasfilm – all of which have a broader, more family-focused approach – Disney has spent decades releasing all sorts of content under its Touchstone Pictures banner.
Created in 1984 as Touchstone Films, Touchstone Pictures has regularly put out a wide variety of films that all funnel money back into Disney. Included in their filmography are movies like Ransom and Con Air, both of which were R-Rated. It’s not out of the question to think a similar move could be pulled with Fox’s various assets. 20th Century could easily operate as its own studio, independently turning out content based on its properties. We could even see the IPs brought into the Touchstone Pictures family.
Whatever step is taken, these scenarios would allow Disney to continue monetizing Fox’s various properties while keeping the vast majority of moviegoers unaware they have anything to do with the company. After all, most audiences don’t know the difference between Marvel and DC, let alone all the permutations of Marvel characters under the ownership of different companies.
Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox would certainly allow the MCU to use characters like Deadpool and the X-Men, but it doesn’t mean it has to. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige can only handle so many films a year, after all. By keeping the Fox films under someone like Simon Kinberg or Lauren Shuler Donner (Feige’s old boss, incidentally), Disney could put out multiple superhero films a year without stretching the MCU thin. And by doing so, Marvel could finally release R-rated comic book movies without sullying their family-friendly Avengers universe.
Fans may be basking in the glow of Deadpool and Logan, but Fox has a spotty track record at best when it comes to adapting Marvel characters to the big screen. What the two aforementioned movies have in common is the fact that they were both R-rated and both hugely successful. Disney could try to shoehorn those R-rated characters into a PG-13 world, but there’s not a lot of evidence or logic to suggest they’d do so.
It’s especially important to remember that Logan- and Deadpool-centric comics have been pouring out for years under Disney’s ownership of Marvel Entertainment, and the tone and violence has in no way been dialed back. It’s tempting to buy into Disney’s most famous face when it comes to the content they create, but that ignores all the dark, violent, funny, and mature work they bankroll across multiple media.
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