Posted by Alisha Grauso @Alisha
Editor-at-large here at Moviepilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

If we were to look at any of Marvel's existing properties on the big or small screen — whether or not the live-action rights to those characters belong to #Marvel or another studio — then it's clear that the one struggling the most right now is #FantasticFour. Even the most die-hard fans had to admit that Josh Trank's reboot last year was a little south of "disaster" on the sliding scale of flops.

Part of that was — let's not kid ourselves about this — the racist backlash to the casting of Michael B. Jordan, part of it was massive studio meddling changing Trank's vision for it, and Trank himself didn't help when he popped off on Twitter on opening weekend about his disappointment with the finished version.

Since then, fans have been chanting (you know, metaphorically) to give the rights back to Marvel - so much so that "Give the rights back to Marvel!" has become a meme in and of itself.

Though, with Marvel and Fox being long embroiled in their own version of the Cold War, it seemed unlikely. Still, anyone with any modicum of common sense about how the industry works would have known it was likely that a deal would be worked out sooner rather than later, with Fantastic Four's brand value being at an all-time low. Last year around this time, rumors about a deal got quickly shot down. But with recent events unfolding, revisiting the rumors might not be so crazy after all. Here's why.

The Recent(ish) TV Developments

Legion and Hellfire
Legion and Hellfire

Last year came the word that both a Legion and Hellfire series were in joint development. If you were a savvy fan, this immediately piqued your "Wait a second..." button, because, well, why would Marvel have handed over the TV rights to the X-Men without gaining something major in return?

I imagine this is what the portal back to Marvel looks like
I imagine this is what the portal back to Marvel looks like

Last year, according to Den of Geek, Marvel did indeed get something in return: The movie rights to the Fantastic Four. Marvel and Fox both quickly debunked the rumor, but again, as more time passes, it seems to be more than less likely for a few reasons:

  • Fox gaining the TV rights to X-Men characters, which Marvel previously held
  • The Marvel TV and Fox TV end of things getting more and more integrated over the last few weeks. Legion is confirmed to be part of the Fox X-Men universe.
  • While Hellfire was scrapped, another mystery joint Marvel show was greenlit
  • 20th Century Fox being in a similar situation that Sony was with Spider-Man just before Sony and Marvel worked out a joint deal
  • Those three announced but as-yet-untitled Marvel movies heading our way in the next five years
More TV-ready mutants?
More TV-ready mutants?

Add that all up and, well, even though Fox and Marvel have since denied the deal has happened, it just doesn't make much sense from both a branding and business perspective that this deal would not be in place, or at least being worked on. It's just common sense.

See Also:

The Mystery Surrounding The Next Two Avengers Movies

The word on the street last year was that Fantastic Four was to and will be one of those three mystery movies heading our way in 2020. But the inclusion of the Fantastic Four — at least its villains — makes even more sense in the aftermath of the change-up in the MCU, namely the sudden announcement that Infinity War would no longer be two parts but would instead be one part, Avengers: Infinity War, and then an untitled Avengers 4 film. At the time, there was no reason given for the sudden decision, but as we all know, Marvel doesn't do anything without a reason. Once again, if we look at the evidence, it can tell us a few things:

  • Marvel always has multiple plans based on whether or not they get certain characters: Plan A if they work out a deal, Plan B if they have to make concessions, Plan C if no deal happens, etc.
  • Most of the major changes they've made to the MCU without warning has involved the inclusion or exclusion of certain characters
  • The timing of the decision came a month after X-Men: Apocalypse was released and did mediocre box office business but left critics and audiences feeling underwhelmed
Way to f*ck it all up, Wade
Way to f*ck it all up, Wade

Adding that all up, and if the time were right for Fox to finalize a deal with Marvel, it would have been this summer. Had Apocalypse done big business, it might have been a different story. But with Deadpool killing it and audiences only being lukewarm on the current X-Men franchise, Fox is surely considering going in an entirely new direction, and it's one that would more than likely require the Fantastic Four to be jettisoned.

It really makes you wonder if a deal has been worked out and if we'll be seeing any of the characters, especially the villains, before that film — say, in the untitled Avengers 4? Just yesterday, we learned that Evangeline Lilly will be reprising her role of Wasp in that film. The cast and characters are starting to fall in line, so the timing makes sense for it. Once again, we can look at the clues:

So where are those characters coming from? Even with the addition of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few other additions into the Avengers world, like Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel, there are still a lot of characters to account for. If working out a logistical deal between the television and movie end of Marvel is understandably too difficult, then it stands to reason that those characters have to come from elsewhere — say, from Fox. It would actually be easier, in many ways, for Marvel to work with them than characters from their preexisting TV shows because the characters can be recast and they wouldn't have to worry about the logistical nightmare of trying to maintain continuity between TV and film.

The Lack Of And Need For Strong Villains

Along with regaining the rights to the Fantastic Four themselves, last year's rumor indicated that their villains are coming along for the ride, too: Silver Surfer, Galactus, and most importantly, Doctor Doom were all reportedly included in the deal. This was exciting, because, let's be honest, Marvel needs all the help it can get with its villains on the movie end of things.

And since Avengers 3 is going to be Avengers: Infinity War, it will be the culmination of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline started in 2008. So you'd wager that Thanos will be vanquished and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will need another big bad to take his place — who else but Galactus or Doctor Doom?

The bottom line is, Marvel just doesn't have that many big-name villains to take his place: Loki has already been used, Magneto is with Fox, and while Mephisto may show up around Doctor Strange, well...we just don't have many well-known, global-to-galactic villains to choose from.

The Galactus Engine
The Galactus Engine

Again, so far, every time a rumor has popped up about a deal, both Marvel and Fox have denied it. But if my instincts and common sense about how Marvel handles its business are right (and they have been in the past), I wouldn't be surprised if that changes in the near future.

Poll

Do you think there's something behind those original rumors after all?

[Source: Den of Geek]