Thomas Roach on whether Marvel Studios needs X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man back…
One of the things Marvel fans keep asking is when are the rights for all the characters going to return to Marvel Studios? In order to save itself from bankruptcy in the 90s, Marvel sold off the movie rights to many of its properties. Now some of their most iconic and favourite characters belong to other studios and cannot be used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As much as everyone would enjoy seeing all these characters share the same universe and appear in films with one another, Marvel may not actually need the characters back from the other studios.
For those of you who aren’t aware X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man are currently with different studios and not associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and characters such as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. The rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four are owned by Fox and Spider-Man is owned by Sony. These properties tend to make a lot of money, so its unlikely that Fox and Sony would ever give them up, and would only sell them back to Marvel at a high price.
For me, it’s good that Marvel Studios doesn’t own everything, otherwise they would control a large majority of the box office and the competition between the studios would be diminished. As studios aim to out do each other, this pushes for better quality films. It doesn’t always end up being the case, but competition is good for business. Not to mention the fact that their so called A-Team being unavailable allowed Marvel to be more creative with the properties they did own. And it has turned out great so far.
Many people are hoping that Fox and Sony do a poor job with their properties, allowing Marvel to buy back at a cheap price. Recently X-Men: Days of Future Past was released and was well received, and there has already been a sequel announced – X-Men: Apocalypse will be released in 2016, as well as another X-Men associated property Deadpool. It doesn’t look like Fox will give up the rights as they seem to be on a winning streak. X-Men will likely stay with Fox for good with the chances of spin off movies and even an eventual reboot.
Spider-Man belongs to Sony and there have currently been two movies in their latest attempt at tackling the character – The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the latter of which came out this year. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not do as well as the studio had hoped both financially and critically. Even their lead actor Andrew Garfield, who plays the titular character, criticised the movie. The next instalment is not due until 2018, but Sony is also attempting to build its own universe by introducing The Sinister Six in their own movie as well as rumoured standalone films for Venom and Black Cat. Some will argue that Sony has messed Spider-Man up now, but the studio would likely reboot it again rather than selling the rights back to Marvel.
Fox also has the rights to The Fantastic Four, which is getting a reboot next year, although it is off to a rocky start. Fans are not pleased with the casting. Everyone is too young, Johnny Storm is played by Michael B Jordan who is black, people are upset with the new origin story and fans have even blasted the appearance of Doctor Doom. Fantastic Four is the most likely property to return to Marvel if the new movie fails like many people want it to, however if it is a surprising hit then the rights won’t revert. Simple as. This is a shame, as the Fantastic Four would fit in the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe out of the non MCU properties in my opinion.
Frankly Marvel has planned years ahead and know they won’t get the rights back to these other popular characters anytime soon. Even if by chance all the rights returned to Marvel tomorrow, the characters probably wouldn’t get films immediately. Maybe not for another five years. Marvel claims to have an idea of films running till 2028 and have announced release dates up until 2019. Whilst the majority of these films have not been revealed, it is highly likely the studio knows which characters will fill these spots.
Marvel could get the rights to these other properties back at some point in the future, but they are not part of the current vision for the MCU and therefore not necessary for the franchise to move forward. Marvel has plenty of characters that can be used, and with the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, more obscure characters may get the chance to be on the big screen. As well as the existing roster of characters we are expecting to see Doctor Strange, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther and The Inhumans appear on the big screen and Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist appear in their own Netflix series. Marvel has no need for these other characters, and we should get behind the properties they do own and get excited about them instead of dwelling on the “what ifs”…
Do you agree that Marvel doesn’t need X-Men, The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man? Let us know your thoughts…