For the past few days, the rumors have been circling about the future of Marvel franchises that 20th Century Fox has movie rights for (i.e., Fantastic Four, X-Men). According to the rumor, Marvel is planning to cancel it’s ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ comic series to prevent them from promoting the upcoming Fox-produced Fantastic Four reboot movie.
A few things give this rumor some credibility, although the current proof is somewhat flimsy. An anonymous Marvel artist reported to Bleeding Cool that artists were instructed to stop using the Fantastic Four and related characters in other titles, and that these instructins came from Marvel CEO and Disney shareholder Ike Perlmutter. Comic Book Resources reports several other unnamed sources that confirm a Fantastic Four comic book hiatus.
Thus far, no rumors indicate a cancellation of the X-Men comic line, but there haven’t been any toy tie-ins for X-Men movies since X-Men Origins: Wolverine. No posters, action figures, collector lunchboxes, nothing.
Marvel has a long history of spats with Fox over the movie rights. Separately, these pieces of evidence don’t mean much. Does that mean they’re coincidental? Longtime Marvel contributor and Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld doesn’t seem to think so. Here’s a compiled quote taken from his Twitter feed (edited from Twitter shorthand for easier reading):
X-Men: Days of Future Past will match If not exceed The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s domestic box office, meaning lots of eyeballs, but there are no toy tie-ins. The Fox shut out is real.
It’s not money that matters in this strategy, it’s the hearts and minds of kids/toy buyers, not-too-subtly communicating what’s “important.”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 toys everywhere, X-Men – zippo. No promotions from toy aisles. Starve those properties. Makes X-Men [box office] comeback impressive!
No emotion in these facts/reporting, it’s just numbers and business. But the messages are clear.
X-Men: Days of Future Past toys would get in the way of upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy onslaught of toys.
Bottom line, it’s a ballsy move to downgrade properties with high profile, big budget support in favor of stuff you control wholesale. Gotta respect it. And equal respect to those properties slugging it out without equal support across multiple platforms.
You gotta understand, I love this stuff!! I love the business of comic films/brands and the unique situation Marvel has with their licenses.
My un-informed prediction: Sony will split producing/financing w/Marvel on next Spidey film and open door for inclusion in Avengers 3.
The last part references another separate rumor that Sony will be dropping some of its film division to help alleviate some of its financial issues, and offers the possibility of seeing our well-loved webhead in an Avengers crossover.
Now, I should point out that Rob Liefeld is in no way speaking in an official capacity for Marvel; he’s only offering an educated opinion. A very well-educated opinion, since he’s been in the business for over 20 years. Granted, he’s probably one of the most criticized artists, but he’s been around the business enough to know how the licensing deals can go down. Having said that, Marvel has not released any information officially confirming or denying the rumors.
I’m probably one of the few people who will admit to liking the original Fox Fantastic Four movies, but I’ve wanted Marvel to get the licensing back for the X-Men movies for a while. The latest X-Men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, was enjoyable for the action, but it was a continuity nightmare and did not (in my opinion) do justice to the comic off of which it was based. So far, the Disney-produced Marvel movies have done incredibly well in the story, continuity, and box-office departments. That doesn’t mean, however, that choking the life out of Fox movies by freezing the franchises elsewhere is the good, or right move.
Should Fox forfeit the movie rights back to Marvel? Is Marvel making the right move? Are the Disney-produced movies better than the Fox-produced movies? Let us know in the comments section below!