Recently, the conflict between Marvel Studios and Fox and Sony over Marvel Comic character film rights has become increasingly public. For the sake of clarity (and placing bets), this article will attempt to explain how the Hollywood infighting will affect the characters in contention, namely The Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-Man.
The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four are Marvel’s oldest and longest running series. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961, the title launched the Marvel Revolution and ushered in a new age of comics. So it came as quite a surprise when Marvel announced that it would cancel the book for the foreseeable future. It seems that Marvel’s CEO/Overlord Ike Perlmutter really, really, really doesn’t like the fact that Fox is making a Fantastic Four movie. Marvel Headquarters has apparently been stripped of all FF related paraphernalia, and artist aren’t even allowed to sell sketches of Marvel’s First Family for the company’s 75th Anniversary.
Marvel’s dealings with the X-Men, however, are a different matter. Being very popular, Marvel can’t really cancel the X-titles without seeming incredibly petty. However, the X-Men are allegedly being hindered in other ways. According to Chris Claremont, the definitive writer for the X-Men, writers and artists are no longer allowed to create new mutants because that would give Fox more movie characters. Marvel has also chosen not to merchandise any Fox-related comic properties, or produce any X-Men or FF cartoons. Hell, there’s even rumors that Marvel plans on replacing the word “mutant” in the comics because they can’t legally use that word in the movies (if you remember, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were referred to as “miracles” at the end of The Winder Soldier).
In comparison to Marvel’s relationship with Fox, their relationship with Sony is all sunshine and lollipops. The rumor is that Sony and Marvel have discussed the possibility of Spider-Man making some sort of appearance in a future Avenger’s movie. This was partly inspired by the Amazing Spider-Man’s less than ideal success, making some believe that Sony is eager to boost Spider-Man’s mass cinematic appeal by pairing him up with the biggest superhero franchise is town.
Why all the fighting?
So by now you’re probably wondering how this whole mess came about. Well, during everyone’s favorite decade, the 1990’s, Marvel was in serious financial trouble. In an attempt to mitigate its situation, the company sold many of its character film rights to various companies. A few, like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor reverted back to Marvel. The only three franchises that Marvel Studios currently have no access to are Spider-Man, the X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. Now that Marvel has become the King of Superhero movies, it must really annoy them that their two most popular titles, Spider-Man and the X-Men, are being used by other studios. The Fantastic Four are no exception, since the franchise contains Marvel’s two biggest super villains, Doctor Doom and Galactus.
All This Fighting Might Be a Good Thing
Marvel and Fox’s current feud isn’t all bad. For one, it gives us some variety in our superhero movies while DC plays catch up. Cancelling The Fantastic Four is kinda a dick move, but it wasn’t like the title was flying off the shelves. Speaking as someone who has actually read every issue of The Fantastic Four (yeah, I know who Aaron the Watcher is), a hiatus might do the title good in the long run. The cartoon stuff isn’t that bad either, seeing as the FF hasn’t had that good of a show anyway, the X-Men have already had X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men: Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-Men. With the X-Men out of commission, it gives other Marvel characters a chance to shine for once.
As for the comic stuff, well, let’s just say that nothing is forever in comics. Marvel can try to erase the word “mutant” from its universe, it can try to turn Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch into inhumans, it can try to kill off the Fantastic Four, and I can practically guarantee you that somewhere down the line all those changes will be retconned back to normal once all this silliness dies down.
Plus, if you’re more of a DC fan, then you can revel in the fact that all their superhero film properties are owned by the same studio. Suck on that Marvel.