It’s a question fans have been asking for years: will the Fantastic Four ever get a good movie? After Fox’s first efforts back in 2005 and 2007, the Fantastic Four got a poorly received reinvention last year, which crashed and burned so badly that many people wondered if Marvel’s first family could ever rise from the ashes of this short-lived franchise reboot.
And yet, there's potential solution posed again and again by the media and fans alike — Marvel could buy the rights to the Fantastic Four back from Fox. But will that ever happen?
Thanks to almost going bankrupt in the ‘90s, Marvel sold off the rights to many of their characters to movie studios — the X-Men and Fantastic Four went to Fox, while Spider-Man swung across to Sony. The comics company was by no means in a fit economic state to finance film franchises, although with help from Universal and Paramount respectively, Marvel released The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man in 2008. Suddenly, their coffers were overflowing, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born. A year later, and the deal with Disney was done, with Marvel Entertainment flourishing ever since.
Why Would Fox Sell Fantastic Four?
Just because fans want to see the Fantastic Four in the MCU doesn’t necessarily mean the studios want the same thing. Obviously, this popular superhero team was a potentially lucrative franchise for Fox, or at least it used to be.
Now that the latest attempt to reinvigorate the franchise has tanked, it’s entirely possible that Fox could decide they have more to gain from selling the property back to Marvel, or trading it for a property they want to use in their ever expanding X-Men franchise. The latest word from Simon Kinberg, who wrote both X-Men: Apocalypse and Fantastic Four, is that the sequel to the 2015 is still on the table. Apparently.
“We want to make another Fantastic Four movie. We love that cast - I mean if I were to say to you now Michael B Jordan and Miles Teller, and Kate [Mara] and Jamie [Bell] are great actors - we love that cast. I love the comic, I mean I love it almost as much as X-Men.”
That being said, Fantastic Four 2 hasn’t been given a new release date since it was removed from Fox’s schedule back in November of 2015.
It’s most likely that Fox needs more than a year to organize the sequel to a film which was so universally panned. But there is another option — Fox could be in talks with Marvel to make a coalition deal similar to the Spider-Man deal with Sony. That way, a sequel could be in the works but as an MCU crossover. Alternatively, Marvel and Fox could jointly release an entirely new version set in the MCU, although that conflicts with Kinberg’s latest comments.
All we have right now is smoke and mirrors, and a lot of this rests on what Marvel has to gain from such a deal.
How Could This Happen?
Although the MCU is already following a pre-set path, there’s a bunch of story potential that they could explore with the Fantastic Four, allowing the MCU to expand even more.
The Fantastic Four have often worked with the Avengers in the comics, and most of their stories are interlinked with the narratives of the other characters, especially Black Panther and Ant-Man. Freeing up the rights to Fantastic Four properties like the Negative Zone, the Micro-Verse (which is basically the Quantum Zone from Ant-Man), and the villainous Doctor Doom, could be very interesting for the MCU. And then there's the Silver Surfer, an exciting and popular character in his own right, who Marvel have been trying to buy back from Fox for years.
Not to mention the fact that the Fantastic Four, as astronauts, have many cosmic storylines, which could be very interesting when Infinity War rolls around.
So much for the story, what about the practicalities? There's actually a free slot in Marvel's Phase 3, now that the Inhumans movie has been indefinitely shelved. This is perfect for an MCU Fantastic Four movie (among other things). The team could also be introduced in Ant-Man & The Wasp, considering their connection to the micro-verse / Quantum Zone.
And then there's the cast, which is when things get tricky. Any MCU/Fox collaborative deal would have to include a new cast, as Michael B Jordan is set to star in 2018's Black Panther. Considering Kinberg's latest comments, this might not be the direction Fox want to go in. All in all, there's a lot that both parties have to gain from sending the Fantastic Four into the MCU, but the complications could be too much of a stumbling block for such a deal to go through. We'll just have to hold out hope!