In what could have been an awesome turn of events with Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four joining the Avengers in a very well-knitted Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has proven to be merely a wild rumour. Fox recently announced that it would be joining hands with Marvel to develop two new TV shows, Hellfire and Legion based on the X-Men comics. Although rights to the X-Men franchise have been licensed out to 20th Century Fox; the television rights of X-Men stands with Marvel. The Joint collaboration sparked rumours that as a trade-off Fox maybe handing over the rights of Fantastic Four to Marvel and work something similar on the lines of Sony’s partnership with Marvel for Spiderman.
Sadly as per the latest update, both Marvel and Fox have denied such rumours and Fox continues to tightly guard the rights to the entire Fantastic Four universe.
Marvel Studios has undoubtedly been spinning gold with its movies in Phase 1 and 2 grossing nearly $9 billion across 12 big-budgeted movies, the studio proudly has been brandishing its roster of superhero slate for the coming few years as part of Phase 3.It was only a matter of time that other studios followed suit with their own comic-book properties. Warner Bros. took cues and spun the idea of the entire Justice League with its DC Comics and the upcoming tent-pole in that direction, Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice promises an epic DC Comic to screen adaptation.
However same couldn’t be said for Fox Studios which is although doing well with its mutant clan in the entire X-Men franchise, but is staggering and limping with the other Marvel owned properties in its kitty. The recent debacle of Fox’s Fantastic Four (2015) raised a lot of hopes that perhaps Marvel’s First Family should be roped into the better-looking MCU of Marvel Studios.
As per comics, the Fantastic Four have played a vital role in the entire Marvel comic universe. Constant references of both the teams have been a part and parcel of Marvel comics, so much that the Fantastic Four have even had their headquarters at the Avengers Mansion. Some of the best-read comics include cross-overs between the characters of both Fantastic Four and the Avengers battling side-by-side with a bunch of super-villains.
However something as cool as that is far from being plausible on-screen considering the fact that two different studios have licensed rights to them. Back in the 1990s when Marvel wasn’t commercially stable, it had to chop off its properties and license them out to other studios. Sony for one acquired the rights to Spiderman which at long last has found a route back to Marvel and fans could not be more excited to see a third teenaged-Spiderman on-screen, Tom Holland after Tobey Mcguire (Spiderman trilogy) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman series) portraying the web-slinger. On the other hand 20th Century Fox acquired the license to the entire mutant clan of X-Men which is by far the only Marvel comic movie franchise successful at the box-office outside Marvel studios.
Following an independent approach Fox has time and again failed to revive the other acquired Marvel commodity, The Fantastic Four. Back in 2005 Fox released a big-budgeted tent-pole Fantastic Four starring Loan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Chris Evans as Johny Storm (before his Captain America days) and Michael Chiklis as The Thing. The original along with its sequel failed miserably at the box office with not as much as domestically grossing over $300 million altogether.
With 5 years of no-show and then subsequently in the post Avengers landscape, Fox decided to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise considering the craze for superhero flicks, however there again Fox’s recent Fantastic Four too debunked at the box office with a world-wide gross off $168 million as against its budget of $120 million excluding marketing. In spite of having burnt its hands twice, Fox seems quite sure in holding on to the rights of Fantastic Four. One of the reasons attributed to the repeated failures could be the independent nature of directing the movie. Unlike Marvel’s master-plan of a shared universe, Fox in spite of having the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four never strung a relation between the two. The idea of a shared universe between X-Men and Fantastic Four is not out of the box, considering the comic books like Onslaught, X4, Ultimate X4, X-Men: Future Foundation and Fantastic Four vs X-Men have ample of stories where the mutants cross-over with these bunch of scientists turned superhumans.
Unfortunately the license agreement between Fox and Marvel extends not only to the leading characters of Fantastic Four but also to the villains directly involved in the Fantastic Four comic-lore. While Marvel may not need a new team of superheroes considering they have their own Avengers on Earth and the Guardians of the Galaxy across the cosmos, it is the villains from these licensed-out commodities especially the sinister master-mind Doctor Doom that perhaps Marvel needs to spice things up a bit.
Marvel movies spell success, no doubt with a right concoction of action, blended with the right amount of humour; however the one factor all Marvel movies have lacked are its super-villains. Apart from the brilliant portrayal of Loki by Tom Hiddleston, no other character has left a defining dent on the Marvel superheroes and going down the line, we sure are waiting to see Thanos and his Infiniti Stones come into action, the absence of a strong villainous presence will be felt. Critics and fans alike do hold on to the hope that somehow Fox and Marvel come to terms with sharing the Marvel characters on-screen. The meaty collaboration of Marvel’s heroes and Fox’s licensed villains such as Doctor Doom and Magneto could indeed steal the thunder from Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ upcoming DC Cinematic Universe as, it has always been evident that Marvel may have great heroes on-screen, but the DC Comics have had better villains in their backyard.
With Spiderman already in the MCU and having his own solo movie now in 2017, could the Fantastic Four, Marvel’s first family be revived successfully if blended into the MCU? Surely there’s a possibility that Fantastic Four could be Fox’s loss and Marvel’s gain.