With rumors flying about 5-10 possible X-men universe movies in early development, I'd say FOX has been pretty busy. And about time! Marvels own cinematic universe has already taken off, and doesn't seem to be backing out any time soon. Sony and are doing Spider-man, and has already confirmed three sequels to the Amazing Spider-man, which is ama... um... spectacular! Even DC has finally gotten some traction in their plans for a JLA centred universe. The stage is set, the players ready and the spectators murmuring excitedly among themselves. It's nearing an all out superhero blockbuster war on the silver screens where we, the audience, are the great prize. In the meantime, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming on ABC this autumn, with a connection to the Marvel cinematic universe. On this front at least, DC is in the lead.
Smallville made its own universe of heroes and villains during the later seasons, even going so far as to introducing us to the older Justice Society. And with Arrow getting an audience, I hope they'll at least consider giving the lead a cameo in future DC universe movies. So, where is Sony's Spider-man and FOX's X-men in all this? Well... I don't really speak lawyer, but my impression is that Sony and FOX only hold the movie rights, and that Marvel “controls” the TV-rights. I use quotation marks here, because the contracts with the movie deals prevents marvel from actually creating a live action television show based on the Spider-man and X-men franchise because it might undermine the big screen movies. For those who do speak lawyer, here's an excerpt from their 1993 agreement with FOX:
“The 1993 Agreement. In October 1993, Marvel and Fox signed an agreement (the "1993 Agreement") pursuant to which Marvel licensed to Fox all the rights that Fox may require in order to produce, distribute, exploit, advertise, promote, and publicize theatrical motion pictures based on the "X-Men" comic book series. The "X-Men" comic book series, referred to in the Agreement as the "Property," includes the X-Men Characters, specifically the "core" characters and the characters of the "X-Universe"; their origin stories; story lines from individual comic books; and "all other elements relating to the Property and the characters." The rights granted to Fox included "the right to use the title (or subtitle or portion of the title) of the Property or any component of the Property as the title of any Picture or related exploitation." The Agreement reserved all television rights to Marvel, subject to a proviso, critical to Fox's pending contract claim, that Marvel would not "produce, distribute or exploit or authorize the production, distribution or exploitation of any live-action motion picture" without Fox's consent (the "Freeze").”
Unless FOX allows them to do so, Marvel can't produce a live action tv-show based around X-men characters, stories or brands, and I assume the same goes for Spider-man if the deal with Sony is worded similarly. With 5-10 movies for FOX, and at least 3 more for Sony, it goes without saying that there's a lot at stake here, and there's little chance of either of them accepting a request from marvel to allow such a series. Which is a shame, since there's a few really good potential TV series hidden in the X-men franchise. I'll see if I can present my top 3 possibilities here, in no particular order.
Laura Kinney, X-23 – the road to humanity
is a big name. An expensive name. Too expensive and too big for a TV show, but maybe if they got him to appear in just the pilot, and the season finale? X-23 is in many ways Wolverines little sister. She's a clone where Wolverines X-chromosome was doubled because the Y-chromosome the scientists at “the Facility” had was damaged. She's a trained assassin, with expert abilities in languages, disguises, martial arts and several other subjects. She's completely under the Facility's control until suddenly she escapes. The show follows her life after the event, where she discovers what it means to be human. Other cast members include Megan Kinney, the human niece of Laura's surrogate mother, Kiden Nixon, a homeless teen whose abilities include manipulating time, and Julian Keller, an arrogant telekinetic who got kicked out from his parents palace-like home after developing powers. Features dark themes, but with an emphasis on bonds of friendship.
It's basically student life at Charles Xavier's institute for the gifted. Beast is the current headmaster along with Kitty Pryde. The Hellfire Club is in the business of making life horrible for the students. Students are grouped into units or teams lead by an advisor, but we'll mostly focus on one group of students, who has a heavy rivalry with one other unit in particular, so long as they don't have a common enemy to fight. School drama with powers.
It's a detective drama with powers. Jaimie Madrox, Rictor, Strong Guy, Siryn and Monet St. Croix investigates mutant related crimes in New York, when a little kid called Layla Miller suddenly wanders in like she owns the place. They'd kick her out, but... she keeps knowing stuff. Stuff that might save their life, or even more importantly, help them earn enough to stay in business for another month. Unfortunately she also gets them involved in a conspiracy that might lead them down a darker path that they might have wished for. For atmosphere, think Joss Whedon's 'Angel', if Angel could suddenly turn into several identical clones of himself instead of turning into a bloodthirsty monster.
And that's about it for my suggestions. If anyone has suggestions for solving the legal issues, if anyone actually speaks lawyer and read something entirely different from the excerpt than what I did, or if anyone has any ideas for X-related shows that won't see the light of day because of a slip of paper signed several years ago, take it to the comments below.