There’s a plane full of alien technology, Asgardian wizardry and Stark innovation in Spider-Man: Homecoming that Michael Keaton’s Vulture wants — and in a bad way. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark sold Avengers Tower, you see, and he has to move those artifacts to the superhero team’s new upstate New York HQ in a hurry.
The plane is the movie’s MacGuffin, driving the plot to its logical conclusion. However, behind the MacGuffin lies the movie’s subtle Marvel Cinematic Universe mystery: Who bought Avengers Tower?
There are a few probable purchasers — Oscorp, for one. The business that fuels Norman Osborn and his quest for power as the Green Goblin might benefit from a high-tech building like Avengers Tower. However, if Oscorp is home to the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker, wouldn’t the company already have a high-tech HQ in the MCU?
The other, of course, is The Daily Bugle. J. Jonah Jameson might love to sit at a desk once owned by Stark, hurling expletives at journalists in the bullpen. Though, we have to assume The Daily Bugle is a well-established New York newspaper, likely headquartered in an historic downtown building, right? Of course.
This makes neither Norman Osborn nor J. Jonah Jameson the likely future tenants of Avengers Tower. No, the new owners of Avengers Tower are the Fantastic Four (and Fox Studios).
Fox, Reed Richards Buys Avengers Tower
OK, I know what you’re saying. Fox owns the cinematic rights to the #FantasticFour, and as recently as June 17, 2017, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said there are no plans for the FF to join the MCU.
However, that was in June, and a month has passed since then. In that month, Spider-Man: Homecoming has grossed nearly $300 million worldwide in less than a week, as well as a slew of positive critical reviews. By comparison, Fox’s latest Fantastic Four grossed $168 million worldwide during its entire run and it enjoys a 9 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Ouch.
Sony and Marvel Studios' partnership was an experiment that paid off. With that in mind, there is little doubt Fox executives’ Outlook calendars include a meeting to discuss teaming with Marvel Studios — like, yesterday.
Because why not? Fox’s X-Men franchise is doing relatively well and, by all accounts, its television partnership with Marvel is all wine and roses. As it stands, it either has to make another Fantastic Four film by 2022 or let the rights revert back to Marvel. With Sony’s successful partnership and the gobs of money it’s collecting, why wouldn’t Fox consider a similar deal with Marvel?
Well, There Is That Marvel Versus Fox War
It would take a thousand words to document all the political shenanigans that have occurred between Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, Kevin Feige and Fox. Here are the important bits.
After failed attempts to negotiate a return of both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to Marvel Studios in 2014, Perlmutter allegedly ordered the cancellation of the Fantastic Four comic, a reduced profile for the X-Men and a cessation of marketing for all those characters.
Soon after, Feige wrestled control of Marvel Studios away from Perlmutter, essentially creating an entity set apart from Marvel’s TV and comic book worlds (another reason why, perhaps, you’re not seeing TV characters like Phil Coulson playing on the big screen).
Around the same time, Sony and Marvel Studios negotiated Peter Parker’s return to the MCU and Fox and Marvel Television negotiated a joint effort to produce both Legion and The Gifted.
While there is no love lost between Perlmutter and Fox, there are also no ties between Perlmutter and Marvel Studios. There also seems to be little love between Perlmutter and Feige, which leaves the door open for a Feige and Fox pairing. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all of that. Do you see the door open up slightly?
Marvel Comics Is Our Soothsayer
Still unconvinced? Then look toward Marvel Comics and you’ll find the answer. In March, I wrote a post about the Prowler and Spider-Man: Homecoming. In it, I argued that Prowler’s sudden prominence in the Marvel Comics universe (he had his own title during the Spider-Man: Clone Conspiracy comic event) suggested he’d pop up in Homecoming. “This Prowler isn’t Hobie Brown, though. It’s Aaron Davis, the brother of Jefferson Davis, #MilesMorales’ father,” I wrote.
And, lo and behold, who turns up in Homecoming?
While ostensibly separate entities, #MarvelComics and Marvel Studios rely on one another to market both books and movies. More often than not, you’ll see this synergy manifest itself when, say, Captain America gets a shiny new uniform after The Avengers storms the box office, or how comics today prominently feature Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and every other Netflix Marvel superhero. Heck, even Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat, from Jessica Jones got a solo title.
What’s Happening With The Fantastic Four In Marvel Comics These Days?
Not a whole lot. After Secret Wars in 2015, the Fantastic Four disappeared. The long-running book was canceled and half of the four — Reed Richards and Sue Storm — are completely gone from Marvel’s comic panels (They’re off creating new worlds and universe because, comics).
In a meta way, Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four are lost, broken apart, disconnected from the Marvel Universe, just like how the Fantastic Four are disconnected from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — on both the Fox and Marvel side.
However, there are rumblings that Reed and Sue will return to Marvel Comics — eventually; that the Fantastic Four will find their mojo once more and become the critical players they are meant to be — eventually.
Right now, Johnny Storm, the Thing and Dr. Doom are around. Lately, they’re spending a whole lot of time in the Avengers line of comics. Doom is a complicated version of Iron Man. Thing is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. The Human Torch is flitting between the Inhumans and the X-Men. Additionally, Marvel is reconnecting at least two of the four, when the Thing and Torch team up in Marvel’s “Two-In-One” relaunch this fall.
Could their return to the comics rack signal an on-screen return or an announcement that the Fantastic Four will join the MCU at a date to be determined? Possibly.
Fantastic Four Tangled Up In Spidey’s Web
Politicking aside, the biggest reason to bring the Fantastic Four into the MCU is the team’s storied history with Spider-Man. It began with The Amazing Spider-Man #2, which debuted in 1963. In the issue, Spidey tries to join the Fantastic Four by breaking into the Baxter Building, the FF’s famous HQ. He wants to join the team, but after discovering it pays no money, he declines the gig.
From there, Spidey and the Torch would form a fast friendship; one with some poignancy in the early 2010s, when Torch dies (for awhile anyway, because, comics) and Spidey joins the FF, taking Johnny Storm’s place.
Allowing the Fantastic Four to make an appearance in the Spider-Man sequel would take the MCU one step closer to being whole. It would also be an amazing entryway for Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben to join Pete and all his friends.
There’s plenty of time to make it happen. The Spidey sequel comes out in July 2019. After that, there are three unannounced mystery films on the docket, all in 2020. One is likely Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. The other two? A Doctor Strange sequel, perhaps, and most likely another original film. Could it be Fantastic Four?
One More Fantastic Four Easter Egg
Before we finish, we should mention the Fantastic Four Easter Egg in Thor: Ragnarok. In the trailer, during the scene with Loki and The Grandmaster sitting on the couch, about to watch Thor and the Hulk throw down, you can see a drawing in the window behind them.
The drawing matches a device from the Fantastic Four comic book, drawn by Jack Kirby. The device itself is used to draw creatures out of the Negative Zone (again, comics) into our world. One more subtle nod to the FF in the MCU. It's likely only a matter of time.
Do you think the Fantastic Four will join the MCU? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below!