With the #XMen series rebooted, Fox are preparing to launch a whole swathe of mutant movies next year! But this year's #FantasticFour flop has pretty much put the kibosh on their idea of expanding beyond mutants - which is a shame, as it only proves how many opportunities they're missing out on.
Here are three properties that Fox ALREADY have the rights to - the building blocks of a much wider (cosmic) universe!
Although you'd never believe it if you only watch the X-Men movies, Marvel's Merry Mutants come with a huge intergalactic range of allies and enemies - and the Starjammers are their greatest allies! They're a ragtag band of space pirates who started out on the run from the evil Shi'ar Empire. They're often allied with Shi'ar Princess Lilandra, who when first introduced was questing to regain her throne from her ruthless brother D'Ken.
The Starjammers are led by Corsair, father of Cyclops and Havok. Other long-term members include Hepzibah, Corsair's sexy feline love interest; Ch'od, a massive hulking mechanic; and Raza, a skilled warrior. Over the years, they've frequently allied with mutants such as Havok, Polaris, and Rachael Summers, and Fox could even potentially take the 'Binary' character (a version of Captain Marvel with cosmic powers who was most notable as an X-Men / Starjammer ally).
It's not hard to imagine what could be done with this idea; the Starjammers are essentially an intergalactic version of Pirates of the Caribbean, with a hint of Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars. As Marvel are currently proving, there's nothing to fear in taking your superheroic adventures into space - in fact, there's massive potential payoff.
The Silver Surfer
Yes, I'm referring to that weird alien dude who appeared in the disappointing Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The #SilverSurfer was one of Marvel's most unusual inventions - a cosmic character who symbolised the hope of redemption. Agreeing to serve the world-eater Galactus as his Herald in order to save his world, the Surfer traversed the skyways finding planets for Galactus to devour. Until, of course, he reached Earth...
Marvel have really struggled to make a Silver Surfer book work. Even Stan Lee's first attempt floundered beneath the competing need to have something absolutely psychedelic and simultaneously meaningful. But recently, Marvel have hit upon a top-rate strategy - and it's all thanks to the skills of Dan Slott and Mike Allred. With a book carrying the caption "Anywhere and Everywhere!", this team has paired the Surfer with a potential love-interest, a normal and everyday human named Dawn. The fledgling romance between the two is beautiful, and her sense of wonder provides an excellent counterpoint to the Surfer's own familiarity with the cosmic. The story is infused with joy.
This is how Fox could make a Silver Surfer film series work; after all, the Surfer comes with the Fantastic Four property, and so they have the right to use him (and Dawn). Introduce the Surfer as Dawn's hero, show the romance build, drop the hints that the Surfer has a dark past - and show worlds reacting to him with horror. Then, in a dramatic twist (maybe even in a sequel) reveal Galactus himself, and have Dawn learn the true history of her knight in shining armour. Don't bother showing the iconic introduction scenes; we already know Fox have messed the Fantastic Four up so badly they'd be wise to steer clear of them for a while. Instead, just jump straight in, and let the viewers have fun as they watch an intergalactic action-romance.
Another of #Marvel's more unique concepts, the Exiles are a band of mutants from a wide range of timelines who are on a quest to keep reality stable! Now that Fox are abandoning the more 'grounded' style of their movies - with time-travel in X-Men: Days of Future Past and global mayhem in X-Men: Apocalypse - why not go all-out and enjoy the craziness?
The comics began with the Exiles recruited by the Timebroker to restore unstable realities, so that the entirety of reality wasn't destabilised as a result. There's the potential for some really fun sci-fi superheroics here, not least because the Timebroker was eventually revealed to have been overthrown by one of the Exiles' enemies, King Hyperion (his rights might be a tad more complicated, so Fox might have to create a new 'big bad').
The real fun here is that Fox can mix the familiar with the fresh; they can incorporate older X-Men actors (say, for example, Anna Paquin's Rogue) and newer (perhaps bringing back Fan Bingbing as the popular Blink, who was a longrunning Exile in the comics). They can pretty much tell whatever tale they want, building a new world in each movie - or even building a few, as the Exiles find their feet. Again, the concept has long-running potential.
I'm not saying these ideas are perfect. I'm saying that Fox need to think outside the box, and realise that they own much more than just the X-Men and the Fantastic Four - a whole wealth of characters come alongside them, and they're fools not to explore some of those opportunities.