For the past few weeks rumors have bounced around Hollywood that Disney was in serious talks to buy the film and television divisions of 20th Century Fox. Now, it seems that after weeks of negotiation, this deal will become a reality.
If you’re sharp and pay attention to this kind of thing (and World’s Best Media) you may have already put 2 and 2 together and realized why I might be pretty happy about this news. After all Disney owns Marvel Studios which gives us the Marvel Cinematic Universe and from the beginning, the MCU didn’t have access to key Marvel characters like the X-MEN, Fantastic Four, and until recently, Spider-Man. The film rights to X-Men and FF are held by 20th Century Fox. On paper this would mean everyone is coming home to Marvel. However, I’m not as enthusiastic about this deal as you may think…
After the utter shit show that was Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony who still owns the film rights to Spider-Man, made the very smart move of making their current deal with Marvel Studios, Which means that Marvel Studios has our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging around with The Avengers (at least for a few more films, but something tells me that will be extended) as well as creative control of the Spider-Man movies they’re making.
Now, if Sony had handled Spider-Man pretty poorly before their Marvel Studios deal, then Fox has handled the Fantastic Four like a deliberate train wreck. Fantastic Four and it’s sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer aren’t going to be on anyone’s list of the all time great superhero films. But last years attempted reboot, FF, made those films look like The Dark Knight. For studio’s to retain the rights to these characters they need to keep making movies within a certain period of time before the rights revert back to Marvel. I don’t think anyone thought Fox was going to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars on another sad attempt to develop a film from a property that they clearly don’t understand. My point is that eventually, something similar to the Spider-Man deal would have been worked out with Marvel, if not the rights reverting back to Marvel Studios outright.
(My God, seriously, these movies are SO, SOOOOO bad. Just… What the fuck?!)
When Bryan Singer was making the the 1st X-men film, it was clear FOX that didn’t understand what they had. The movie had a a pretty small budget compared to the Superhero juggernauts we see today. So (even though it was released in July, the heart of tent pole, summer block busters) they didn’t have much faith in the movie. Ryan McDonald (World’s Best Media contributor) once said to me that the first X-MEN film is a science fiction movie and not really a superhero film. I always thought that was a great observation and if you rewatch X-MEN as a sci-fi movie, it works a little better than superhero film. X2 on the other hand felt much more like a superhero film, as well as feeling much more like the X-MEN Comics.
The first X-Men film doesn’t get nearly enough credit for creating the Golden Age of comic book movies that exists today. As the superhero movie making process began to drastically change after X-MEN was released in 2000, The X-MEN films have always been there chugging along. In the 17 years since X-MEN was released there have been 10 X-MEN movies counting Deadpool. This is a series that has had major highs and lows. But lately something really great has been happening to the X-MEN franchise, which brings to my main point: I don’t want the X-MEN part of The MCU (for a couple of reasons).
First, in a time when every damn studio is looking to emulate Marvel’s golden model of a “shared universe”, The X-MEN movies have been doing the “shared universe”-thing without even trying. Anyone who reads comics knows that The X-MEN have so many decades of characters, storylines, spin-offs, crossovers, and events that they’re a universe unto themselves in Marvel Comics. My point is that though they are very much Marvel characters, there’s so damn much going on in the comics to cherry pick from for the movies, The X-MEN films don’t need the MCU to be successful. The X-MEN are a never ending stream of characters and stories. Think about everything that’s happened in The X-MEN film franchise and imagine if that was part of the MCU. It would be a goddamn mess.The X-MEN mythology is too big and unwieldy to dump into the MCU. It would just be too much. Yes, it would be cool to see Wolverine and Beast, two classic Avengers members, on the team. And yeah, sure it’d be cool to have the Avengers face off against Magneto and a cool version of The Brotherhood. In the end, it wouldn’t be worth it though. Even in the comics, The X-MEN are kind of off in their own little corner right now.
(Look at all this! It’s madness!!!)
Second, Fox is doing so many interesting things with The X-MEN in film and TV it would be a shame to stifle and censor the creativity that we’ve seen in the franchise lately. Legion on FX was on of the years best shows and one if the most wildly unique comic book adaptations that I’ve ever seen. Logan could be nominated for or even win an Academy Award with incredible performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart (Seriously, it would be a crime if Hugh Jackman doesn’t get awards attention for this unforgettable movie). Then of course we have Deadpool which would NEVER, EVER, EVER be made if it was in the MCU at the time. Legion, Logan, and Deadpool are some of the best superhero stories ever made. Fox is taking bold risks with their X-MEN properties. With projects like the upcoming New Mutants movie being a straight up horror film with X-Men characters in it, it seem like this studio is willing to do the type of out of the box super hero stories that will keep comic book adaptations alive. Comic Books aren’t a genre, they’re a storytelling medium and the projects I listed above are proof of that. Hell, Logan might as well be a straight up western.
I will admit that the silver lining for me is that Marvel Studios will have access to the Fantastic Four which I desperately want to be part of The MCU. Seeing Tony Stark and Reed Richards, two of the comic book world’s biggest pieces of shit, finally on screen together recklessly causing more problems than they solve would be a delight. Of course, seeing The Avengers fight Doctor Dom would be fucking amazing. But The X-Men and The MCU don’t need each other right now. Maybe someday, but not now.
I will say that I think it’s a good thing that Marvel never had access to their A-list characters like the X-Men and Spider-Man when they first started the MCU. Instead they had to use lesser-known characters like Captain America and Iron Man, which forced them to be more creative and pull more deeply from the rich roster of characters that Marvel has. Which would’ve meant we’d most likely never have gotten something like the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen.
Obviously this is out of my hands, I don’t know if they’re going to somehow make an attempt to put the existing X-Men universe into the MCU or if they’re going to treat the X-Men as brand new characters that we’ve never seen before in this universe. I think if they do decide to make the X-Men part of the MCU, the smartest way to go would be to recast and go in a complete different direction than what’s been done before. It’s going to happen anyway one way or another. At the end of the day I’ll be happy if they finally get fucking Doctor Doom right at the very least.
Thanks for reading !