Hardly a month goes by where we don’t hear a rumor that the elusive movie rights to Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four, are returning home to Marvel Studios, only for said rumor to be quickly debunked by either 20th Century Fox or Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Alas, the sad fact is that Fox has owned the rights since 2004, and despite recent talks of Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox (talks that have apparently fallen through), it still seems as though there's no end in sight.
Nevertheless, despite Fox’s insistence on clinging to the Fantastic Four rights like a balding man clings to his last few wisps of hair, there’s certainly an argument to be made that it would be in the studio’s best interest to bid them farewell. This isn’t a comic book fan’s checklist of reasons it’d be awesome to see the Fantastic Four in the MCU, though. These are 5 reasons Fox should give the Fantastic Four rights to Marvel Studios:
Fox Clearly Doesn’t Understand The Characters
Believe it or not, there’s already a template for how to make a good Fantastic Four movie – it’s called The Incredibles. However, for whatever reason, Fox doesn’t seem to know how to make a good film about a foursome of familial crime-fighters, and that seems to stem from the fact that the studio doesn’t understand the characters, themselves. Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben are a dysfunctional, eclectic family who, despite their differences, love one another dearly. Unfortunately, this aspect of the team doesn’t seem to come through in the films, particularly in Josh Trank’s 2015 abomination.
Perhaps even more infuriating, though, it the way the villains are handled. The all-powerful Devourer of Worlds, Galactus, was turned into a giant cloud of gas in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and neither iteration of Doctor Doom has managed to capture the essence of the fearsome, vain ruler of Latveria from the comics.
These are characters that are practically as old as Marvel, itself, so it’s utterly baffling that Fox has such a hard time grasping them. After three failed attempts, the studio should simply accept the fact that these classic characters might be better off in someone else’s hands.Advertisement
Fox Already Has Its Hands Full With The X-Men
Speaking of hands, Fox already has theirs full with their ever-growing, more successful (to varying degrees) X-Men Universe. Sure, the core X-Men films are hit or miss, but since Deadpool and Logan helped reignite the franchise, it’s seemingly been all hands on deck as far as cranking out new movies. In 2018, alone, we’re getting New Mutants, Deadpool 2, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which is rumored to be a two-parter (take that with a grain of salt, though). Plus, in 2019, we’ll finally get the long-awaited Gambit film, starring Channing Tatum and directed by Gore Verbinski.
In addition to those films that have already managed to secure release dates, we also have X-Force, which will once again pair Deadpool with Cable and could essentially function as a Deadpool 3. It’s unclear when that film will hit theaters, but Fox has no shortage of mystery release dates already lined up: June 7, 2019, November 22, 2019, March 13, 2020, June 26, 2020, October 2, 2020, and March 5, 2021.
If that isn’t enough, Fox is currently two for two when it comes to entertaining, well-received television series. Season 1 of FX’s trippy, captivating series Legion quickly led to the announcement of a second season, and The Gifted has proven that Fox at least knows how to handle family superhero dramas on the small-screen.
Given Fox’s massive X-Men slate, the last thing the studio needs is to have to produce a half-hearted, obligatory Fantastic Four film every few years. Speaking of which…
It Would Eliminate A Heavy Financial Burden
The current understanding is that in order to maintain their license to the Fantastic Four movie rights, a new FF film needs to go into production every seven years. That means, regardless of whether or not Fox has an idea in mind, a director lined up, or even any interest in doing something with the property at that time, the studio NEEDS to begin producing a film, lest the rights revert back over to Marvel.
Considering Fox’s track record with the FF franchise, that’s a pretty big financial ask. Fantastic Four (2005) grossed $330.6 million worldwide on an estimated $100M budget, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer grossed $289M worldwide on an estimated $130M budget, and Fantastic Four (2015) grossed a measly (by Hollywood standards) $168M worldwide on an estimated $120M budget. With such diminishing returns, why does Fox insist on retaining the rights to the Fantastic Four, especially when the studio is currently in a position of power over Marvel? (Power, you say?)
Fox Has Leverage Over Marvel
When it comes to profiting off of the Fantastic Four movie rights, Fox could certainly sell the rights back to Marvel. However, that doesn’t mean the studio needs to approach Kevin Feige with its tail between its legs – quite the opposite, actually.
Consider the current state of the MCU. You’ve got actors whose contracts will soon be expiring, a depleting (though still far from empty) well of new, big-name superheroes to draw from, and let’s not forget Marvel’s ongoing villain problem. With all this in mind, with the potential for Marvel Studios to acquire the rights to such iconic villains as Doctor Doom, Galactus, and Annihilus, the ball is really in Fox’s court on this one.
Still, Fox doesn’t necessarily have to outright sell the FF rights back to Marvel to reap similar benefits…
It Could Be Mutually Beneficial For Both Studios
Marvel Studios fought tooth and nail to reacquire the rights to Spider-Man from Sony. What Marvel ended up with was a unique arrangement in which both studios share the rights to the character, which is why the web-slinger was able to appear in Captain America: Civil War. For Spider-Man: Homecoming, though, despite the project being a collaboration between Sony and Marvel, Sony was the sole studio to pocket the film’s profits. Meanwhile, Marvel (or rather Disney) earned money off of all the toy and merchandise sales. Still, in the end, both sides got what they wanted: Sony wanted a successful, profitable Spider-Man film, and Marvel wanted to be able to use Spider-Man in the MCU.
Could such a deal work with Marvel and Fox when it comes to the Fantastic Four? Why not? After all, for all intents and purposes, Fox would still be “giving” the FF rights to Marvel, but rather than receiving a single payday, the studio would be able to continue pursuing projects such as the aforementioned Doctor Doom film while also allowing the creative (and more capable) minds at Marvel Studios produce good Fantastic Four movies, which Fox would profit on, as well. It would be the ultimate win-win for both Fox and Marvel, and for fans, it would finally put an end to what’s been a vast wasteland of untapped potential and missed opportunities.