Back in the day when Marvel comics almost went bankrupt, it did something really stupid. It held a fire sale of its flagship characters and sold off their rights to different movie production houses. Sony bought Spiderman, 20th Century Fox got the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and the Silver Surfer. It was a stupid move but a necessary one. Had it not been for Marvel’s utter act of desperation, we may not have had a Marvel Cinematic Universe in our midst. Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk would never have seen the light of day had it not been for that fire sale.
It was the right move at that moment but it was going to have serious ramifications later on. More than a decade later, Marvel’s stupidity has come back to haunt it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full swing but it does not consist of Marvel’s Flagship characters. Believe it or not, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are not A-List superheroes. They were not even that popular in the comics. Fox and Sony were the ones holding the strings to the characters which are fan favorites even today. Spider-Man and Fantastic Four are the golden geese that helped jumpstart two different franchises other than the MCU. The MCU could have been much different if these superheroes could have joined the Avengers.
But all is still not lost. Sony sold back the rights to Spiderman to the Marvel Studios after making a franchise and milking it as much as they could. When the latest Sony Pictures Spiderman movie The Amazing Spiderman met with lukewarm responses, Sony decided to sell the rights and quit while they are ahead. Turns out, 20th Century Fox is also following the same route.
As the rumors of the Disney-Fox deal come to light, fans are excited to finally see the X-Men get back to the home team. 20th Century Fox has already made a franchise out of it. With more than half a dozen movies, the X-Men are already established as a premium fighting force within the superhero community.
The theaters have known the X-Men movies for long. This fame could be something the Marvel Studios could use to jumpstart the X-Men franchise within the MCU. The day is not long when Wolverine and Tony Stark share screen space in the same movie.
Every cloud has a silver lining. And we just told you about the silver lining. Now let’s get to the bad news. While Disney might be getting the rights to the X-Men franchise back, one prominent superhero team will reportedly not be part of the said deal.
The Fantastic Four may never be part of the MCU.
Given the new rumors that abound, Slash Films has given new intel regarding the deal which creates serious confusion as to whether Marvel’s First Family will get to join the MCU. Part of the reason being that Fox does not wholly own the rights to the Fantastic Four. The Superhero team is actually owned by Constantin Pictures, a German movie production company.
Constantin Pictures were sold the rights to the team in Marvel’s yesteryears on the condition that they make a movie out of it. Which they did in 1994. But it was just a hurried attempt by the company to hold on to the rights since the low budget movie never ever hit the movie theaters.
Our pals at CBR help provide us necessary insight into the deal itself:
“Constantin retains the production rights first sold to them in 1986, but that Fox has exclusive distribution rights as part of the 1999 deal with Marvel.”
This essentially means while Marvel will hold the rights to the Superhero group but Constantin Pictures will hold the distribution rights since Fox never had them in the first place. So basically the very reason we won’t ever get a Hulk movie is the same reason the Fantastic Four movie won’t be happening. Because of a different Production households the distribution rights.
There is still a ray of hope for the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios faced a similar problem with Sony and Spiderman. Marvel could outright buy back the rights from Constantin Pictures like they did with Spiderman or work out a deal with them. The Hulk is owned by Universal Pictures but still is a part of the MCU. The Fantastic Four could be incorporated into the MCU in a similar fashion.
It will not be the same as a standalone movie. But hey something is better than nothing!!