As The Walt Disney Company closes in on its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, it looks increasingly likely that Marvel Studios will soon have the X-Men at its disposal. This is of course great news for fans hoping to see all of the publisher’s roster of superheroes under the same roof (and same shared universe), although it appears that we may still have one omission.
According to Slash Film, there’s some confusion as to whether the Fantastic Four will fall under the deal, given that the production rights to Marvel’s First Family actually belong to Constantin Film, rather than Fox itself.
The German production company first acquired the rights to the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer back in 1986, producing the unreleased low-budget 1994 movie in order to hold onto said rights before forming a partnership with Fox in 1999 which ultimately led to Tim Story’s two Fantastic Four movies, and the failed 2015 reboot.
CBR offers further details on the situation, reporting that “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.” Therefore, should the Disney deal go through, one would assume that Disney and Marvel would hold the distribution rights to Fantastic Four movies, but not the production rights – in effect, a reverse of The Incredible Hulk situation with Universal.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily prevent Marvel from incorporating the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s possible the studio could work out a deal with Constantin Film (similar to what they have done with Sony for Spider-Man), purchase the production rights outright, or perhaps even utilise the characters in other movies, as they have done with The Hulk. Hopefully things will become a little clearer if and when the takeover goes through.