Long before the Fantastic Four movie reboot opened in theaters in August 2015, studio Twentieth Century Fox had dated a sequel for summer 2017. There were even talks among its executives and producer of Fox's Marvel properties of crossing over the Fantastic Four with the X-Men franchise to create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe of sorts.
And then the film became a reality. An awkward, ugly reality that didn't deserve to exist. Behind-the-scenes production troubles, fighting amongst director Josh Trank and cast, problematic reshoots, and even the director lambasting the project before it opened were all widely publicized and and well-documented events, that combined with mediocre marketing killed the Fantastic Four's revival. The reboot was a box office failure but still, producer and writer Simon Kinberg said he was already figuring out a sequel.
We didn't understand why, given the current status of the brand. The Fantastic Four reboot was meant to make amends for the last two films, and it did the opposite, losing millions of dollars in the process. No one wants to see this incarnation again, at least not in the numbers to make a big budget comic book film viable. Worse, Marvel Entertainment was doing everything in its power to eradicate the FF from its licensing and merchandise. That meant the FF books were canceled and its characters removed from Marvel encyclopedias. No FF toys, no FF shirts, no FF mentions on key Marvel.com pages. They were indirectly trying to devalue the brand, but Fox did the work for them.
The Fantastic Four have been ruined.
Speaking with CB while promoting Anesthesia, a feature he writes, directs and stars in, Tim Blake Nelson shared his doubts on the possibility of the Fantastic Four reboot cast reuniting to shoot a a sequel.
"I think it’s off the schedule now. I don’t think they’re making one, but I’m not sure."
Of course, given what happens to Nelson's character, Dr. Allen, in the film's third act, perhaps he wasn't going to come back anyway. Then again, Dr. Harvey Allen was originally meant to be Harvey Elder who becomes Marvel's Mole Man, a classic Fantastic Four villain. But none of that matters now.
We knew Fantastic Four 2 wasn't going to happen in 2017 the moment its predecessor began screening for the press, and discussed the possibility of another Fox-Marvel movie taking its place- perhaps even a sequel to next month's hotly anticipated Deadpool feature. Then Fox made it official by removing Fantastic Four 2 from its schedule of upcoming releases entirely. Not a date shift but a complete removal.
Fox could always retool and try again at a later date, but not too later for that would see the rights revert back to Marvel. But can they really re-reboot a franchise no one cares about? And is it even possible using only the properties Fox owns? No. We don't believe it is. The FF need the Marvel Universe to flourish, a universe that only exists at Marvel. And Marvel needs the FF villains - many of whom they very much wanted to include in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Keep in mind, the removal of Fantastic Four 2's release date came just a week after Marvel and Fox announced a joint partnership for a pair of X-Men television shows. This is extremely significant because it shows Fox and Marvel can and are working together. It means Marvel is back to promoting Fox-owned properties on their own official website and are even co-producing the ventures. A similar partnership, as we've explained numerous times before, already exists between Marvel and Sony and this is how Spider-Man is able to get a re-reboot. Because it's within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We suspect something similar will happen (read: needs to happen) with the Fantastic Four. Don't be surprised to see Fantastic Four characters pop up in Phase 4. Marvel's already setting dates... and they're already talking to Fox.
Deadpool opens in theaters February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.