X-Men & Fantastic Four Will Join The MCU (Eventually)
Looking further ahead into the future, the biggest ramification of the Disney-Fox deal is that Marvel Studios will have control over the X-Men and Fantastic Four, with a reboot assuredly on the way - even if one hasn't officially been announced so far. There's no timetable yet for when these characters will begin to be integrated into the MCU, but it will happen at some point.
In terms of their standalone movies, the unofficial slate of films Marvel Studios is developing has given fans a decent understanding of what films they'll release through 2021. Black Widow and The Eternals will film this year and be ready for 2020 debuts, while Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, and Shang-Chi all have directors attached and appear to be aiming for 2021. With this timeline, recent reports have backed up the belief that no MCU solo X-Men or Fantastic Four film will hit theaters until 2021/2022 at the earliest.
With Marvel Studios already largely shaping what Phase 4 will look like, any immediate usage of these new toys will have to be folded into existing projects in the meantime. That said, there's no need to rush out these introductions either, and Marvel Studios may very well take a slower approach than many anticipated to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU. They did reboot Spider-Man with Sony just two years after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit theaters, but Marvel has complete control over these characters now, while they still have to share Spider-Man.
Additionally, Marvel Studios may also take a less conventional approach to these properties when they do decide to introduce them. Feige recently met with Noah Hawley about his Doctor Doom movie, and it would fascinating to see Marvel Studios use Doom as their first Fantastic Four character, while also properly establishing him as a supervillain for the future. Even if the studio does take a more traditional approach to the standalone titles, and the first films they make are proper solo reboot films for the X-Men and Fantastic Four, they will likely attempt to make them stand apart from what audiences have seen before. Feige has teased that he's excited to use lesser known Marvel characters, which he's found success doing in the past. This could mean a different X-Men team at the center of the story than fans are expecting or even kicking off the Fantastic Four with the Future Foundation forming.
Marvel Still Doesn't Own Spider-Man, Hulk or Namor
The X-Men and Fantastic Four coming back home to Marvel Studios gives them control over almost every Marvel character ever created. But, previous deals with Sony and Universal still limit what Marvel Studios can and cannot do with some characters - namely Spider-Man, Hulk, and Namor.
As mentioned before, Spider-Man is only in the MCU now thanks to a deal agreed upon between Marvel Studios and Sony back in 2015. The deal allows Marvel to be very involved on the creative side and so Tom Holland's version of Peter Parker can appear in films like Avengers: Infinity War, while fellow MCU stars like Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury can appear in Spider-Man: Far From Home. However, this deal reportedly ends after this summer's sequel, but it's expected to be extended. What could make the extension of this partnership more complicated is Sony's own plans for the 900 Marvel characters they own the big screen rights to. After the success of Venom, they're looking to create even more solo films (like Morbius), and desperately want Spider-Man to exist in the universe these films take place in. The next deal could ask for all of Sony's Marvel productions to be set within the MCU.
Universal owning the distribution rights to Hulk and Namor is a bit less confusing, but still can limit what Marvel Studios can do. Any potential Hulk or Namor solo movie would first be offered to Universal for distribution, but Marvel Studios and Disney like to do that themselves and have distributed all of their own films (except Sony's Spider-Man films) since Iron Man 3. While this may mean for the time being that Marvel Studios won't make solo Hulk or Namor movies, it does allow these characters to be used in other non-starring films. This is how Hulk appeared in Thor: Ragnarok and continues to be part of the Avengers franchise and would be how Namor could be introduced in Black Panther 2 or any number of future projects.
Clearly, the Disney-Fox deal is huge for the future of the MCU and will drastically change it in the years to come. The impact may not be immediately clear, but it won't be too long before mutants and Marvel's first family are running around the MCU and likely crossing over with each other as well as other MCU stars like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019