If you believe all the rumors, #Marvel and Fox are locked in a bitter war – with X-Men fans caught in the middle, watching as their favorite comics and characters are cast aside by Marvel! But the last few months have given us some tantalizing hints that the two studios may have reached their own X-Men Peace Accords…
1. The X-Men are going to hit the small screen!
The small screen is, in many ways, where the heat between Marvel and Fox all began. In the early 2000s, Marvel worked with Fireworks Entertainment to launch Mutant X, a series that focused in on a team of "New Mutant" superheroes. Fox promptly sued Marvel, claiming that they had exclusive rights to the X-Men property in this form, and that Mutant X was too similar to the X-Men. Relations between the two companies degenerated into a succession of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits, but were ultimately resolved in a "confidential" manner. According to the LA Times, an official statement declared that the terms of the settlement were "designed to put the lawsuit behind and expand the relationship between Fox and Marvel". If you're willing to believe that, I've got deeds to the Statue of Liberty that I'd be happy to sell you...
Needless to say, fans didn't see much evidence the statement was anything more than a platitude. Relations between Fox and Marvel seemed very much strained for years afterwards - and then, about a year ago, rumors started to emerge that Fox were in talks with Marvel about launching an X-Men TV series. We don't know exactly how these things work out - the terms agreed to after the Mutant X lawsuit are shrouded in secrecy - but clearly Marvel and Fox needed to come to some kind of agreement in order for the X-Men TV series to go ahead.
Finally, in October, fans learned that the companies had come to an agreement. Two series are in development - Hellfire, based around the X-Men's villainous Hellfire Club, and #Legion, centering around a powerful mutant who is, in the comics, Professor Xavier's son.
It's clearly the most agreeable the two firms have been ever since that lawsuit...
2. Fox's attitude towards the comics has changed!
If there’s one thing X-Men fans grumble about, it’s the fact that Fox movies don’t really pay much attention to the source material. Characters and concepts are redesigned at a whim, leaving fans frustrated that their iconic heroes haven’t really materialized on to the big screen. This is usually contrasted with Marvel’s approach, where most characters are true to their comic book origins (let’s ignore the Mandarin, shall we?)
In spite of that, #XMenApocalypse looks set to shake things up a bit. We've all seen the images of Apocalypse, Psylocke, and Storm:
Comic book fans got nicely distracted comparing Apocalypse to Ivan Ooze. They didn't really notice that Storm and Psylocke are more identifiable to comic book fans than most of Fox's versions - Psylocke in particular...
Then Comic Book Resources interviewed Andre Tricoteux about the part he’s playing in Deadpool – namely, the X-Man Colossus! Tricoteux said:
“They really wanted Colossus to be true to the original comic. That was their vision of him in this movie, so that’s what I concentrated on.”
Back when Fox kicked off their franchise, they actively discouraged the actors reading the comics – now Tricoteux is being told to use them as source material? At first it looked like it could be an exception, but then Fox hired director Josh Boone for spin-off movie New Mutants. It didn’t take Boone long to start Tweeting his love for the original comics!
Rumors are building that Boone is very much concerned to stick with the original concepts, which would make not one but two X-Men movies that have tried to honor the comics – pretty groundbreaking!
3. Marvel's attitude to the movies has changed!
When X-Men was released back in 2000, Marvel were caught flat-footed by its success – but wasted no time in changing the line, quickly dressing the X-Men in black leathers. As writer Grant Morrison observed in his (in)famous Morrison Manifesto:
“The movie has already done most of the work for us and there are MILLIONS of new potential readers out there for the taking: including the women who slavered over Hugh Jackman and who should be able to pick up THIS book and get the same sexy thrills from the comic book character.”
Fast-forward to the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Marvel essentially ignored it. Fans were astounded – and outraged.
Then, discussing a new #Deadpool series with Comic Book Resources, Marvel’s Axel Alonso made a surprising statement. Asked why late 2015 / early 2016 was the right time to up the Merc With A Mouth’s profile, he answered:
“There’s a movie coming out”
Sure, it's a pretty obvious response to the question on timing, but we're back to the old Marvel logic again – there’s a movie coming out, so now’s the right time to capitalize on this character! It was refreshing, but at the time it was dismissed by many as an exception. Here is the Deadpool trailer, if you didn't already know.
But just last week, at a Comic Con in Brazil, Marvel revealed their next X-event – a crossover that will tie in Extraordinary X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men! Coming Summer 2016, the event’s title is designed to catch the eye – APOCALYPSE WARS!
You know what X-Men film is coming out next year? Of course you do; it’s X-Men: Apocalypse! The timing’s no coincidence, so it looks pretty clear that Marvel are returning to their older (better) attitude of using the movies to promote their comics!
I’m not saying that these two rival studios have buried the hatchet; let’s face it, Marvel will still be wanting the rights to the X-Men back! But maybe we’re seeing a state of détente, with the studios agreeing to work within the current status quo. If so, the REAL winners are surely the X-Men fans…