At this point, Marvel Studios is an unstoppable force! Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) continue to march on as a global pop culture phenomenon. With the release of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) in a few months, it's easy to see that Marvel has no plans for slowing down anytime soon.
Before Marvel Studios became the prototype for superhero movies, the comic book entertainment company was on the verge of bankruptcy and folding altogether in the mid-90s. One of the reasons why Marvel is currently where it is today in pop culture is because it sold off the movie rights to some of its more popular properties as a way to generate more revenue. Marvel sold off X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil to Fox, The Hulk went to Universal, while Spider-Man found a new home at Sony. The early superhero movies of the late 90s and early 2000s crashed and burned, while we're currently experiencing a new era of superhero movies with mature themes, darker tones, and complex storytelling. With Marvel leading the way for modern superhero movies, does the comic book movie studio need Spider-Man or the X-Men anymore?
It's unclear how Josh Trank's [The Fantastic Four](movie:34667) reboot will turn out, but I'm more than willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. He's an interesting up-and-coming young director, so seeing his follow up to Chronicle should be something worth watching. Everything we've seen from the film from its casting to leaked set photos points that it has something more to it than the first two Fantastic Four movies put together, so for the time being Fox has carte blanche with the struggling franchise.
As for the X-Men, I really think Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer are doing a great job with the franchise, so I think it should stay with Fox. X-Men: Days of Future Past really surpassed my expectations, as I consider it one of the best in the series. The future does look bright for the franchise, but doesn't have that same kind of success as a Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. Could Marvel Studios do a better job with the X-Men than Fox?
After eight years of inactivity, Fox let the film rights to Daredevil lapse, so the man without fear returns to Marvel Studios. While the comic book movie studio has no plans to make a big screen version of Daredevil, they are planning a new TV series on Netflix for 2015. Marvel will also expand Daredevil's universe with The Defenders mini-series, which will include Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. If Marvel gets the film rights of Spider-Man (or the X-Men) back, I can easily see them do the same thing with introducing lesser known characters with more popular ones.
Universal Pictures once had the film rights to The Hulk, but the big guy's film rights reverted back to Marvel after Universal failed to make a new movie after Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003. Universal also partially own the rights to Namor the Sub-Mariner, but those are expected to expire and return back to Marvel. At the moment, Universal has no superhero movies or possible franchises in development.
Now the big one, Spider-Man. Sony released the first Spider-Man movie back in 2002 and completely re-invented the superhero genre with Sam Raimi in the director's chair. While the movie studio failed to capitalize on the Raimi/Tobey Maguire era of films after audience backlash against Spider-Man 3 in 2007, Sony rebooted the film franchise only five years later with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. While Andrew Garfield was an upgrade to play Spider-Man, his Peter Parker seemed too confident and self-assured for purists. The franchise's new director Marc Webb was a decided step back from a director like Raimi and it shows with the reboot's two films.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a weaker franchise and who would've thought back in 2002 that an unknown and obscure property like Guardians of the Galaxy would completely out gross Spider-Man in domestic movie markets. So does Marvel need Spider-Man these days? It certainly seems like it's the other way around, Spider-Man needs Marvel Studios.
With the success of Marvel's film franchises, the comic book movie studio is practically printing money when it comes to introducing new characters to its cinematic universe. Marvel has the Hulk and Daredevil back, and its only a matter of time before the have less popular characters like The Punisher and Ghost Rider back too. For now, X-Men seems like it's in good hands, but Spider-Man on the other hand needs an overall boost in quality and marketing. However, if Spider-Man joins The Avengers on the big screen, the sky's the limit for Spidey and friends.
What do you think? Does Marvel Need Spider-Man or the X-Men Back?