Is it possible the Fantastic Four could soon return to the MCU? Fans of comic books and comic book movies have been clamoring for this to happen for years now. But there seem to be possibilities that something like this could actually happen at some time in the near future.
— Leighton Trainer (@LeightonTrainer) April 28, 2017
Marvel Lost the Fantastic Four
Years ago, Marvel was not the juggernaut that it is now under the Disney umbrella. In fact, Marvel as a comic book company was on the verge of bankruptcy. The company made the decision to license some of its trademark properties to various film companies to get their hands on some ready cash.
Fox Studios did relatively well out of the deal, getting their hands on properties like the X-Men and Deadpool – both of which have proved to be very lucrative for the company over the years. X-Men movies have not quite made the kind of money that more recent Marvel films have, but they have still done very well. And of course Deadpoolwas a massive hit on a small budget.
However, Fox didn’t do so well with another property it got from Marvel, the Fantastic Four. The company made two Fantastic Four films that had a lackluster response from fans and critics alike. At the same time, neither actually lost the studio money.
— JRod (@Alberti6771) April 28, 2017
An important aspect of the contracts that Fox and other studios signed to use these characters is that they have to be in production on a new version of whatever the property is within a certain number of years. Otherwise, the property reverts back to Marvel.
This may be the reason why Fox studio put so much pressure on quickly churning out to third Fantastic Four film – directed by Josh Trank. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, behind-the-scenes rumors made it fairly clear that Trank had disagreements with the studio about the direction of the movie, with him ultimately being sidelined and an entirely new cut of the film being produced.
Regardless of who had the primary input on the film, the third Fantastic Four movie was an abysmal failure. All thoughts of a renewed franchise went out the window as critics and audiences slammed this movie. This was the first of the three Fantastic Four films to actually lose money.
Because of this outcome – and particularly because of the fact that studios don’t like to lose money on films – lots of people started talking again about the possibility of the Fantastic Four franchise returning to the MCU so they could be incorporated into the overall Avengers universe.
At one point, this kind of thing might have seemed unlikely simply because the studios involved don’t necessarily get along that well and don’t want to give up properties once they have them. But recently, we’ve seen Sony pictures make a deal with Marvel Studios so that Spiderman could appear in the MCU and Iron Man – and presumably other Avengers – could appear in Sony Spiderman films.
If this could be made to work, it’s safe to assume some kind of a deal could be worked out so that the Fantastic Four could become a part of Marvel again. For instance, Marvel still holds licensing rights for any X-Men toys and other merchandise. Marvel could simply offer these rights – or some percentage of them – back to Fox in exchange for the Fantastic Four license.
On the other hand, it’s equally possible they could work out a joint deal with Fox – similar to the one they have with Sony and Spiderman – that would allow Fox to continue ostensibly making the Fantastic Four films, but they would really be produced by Marvel. This would allow Fox to keep making money off the franchise, but would also allow Marvel to introduce the Fantastic Four in their future films. Perhaps even in one of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movies.
[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox]