Marvel's misguided attempt to scuttle the new Fantastic Four movie
...there’s been some odd drama brewing behind the scenes. Since 20th Century Fox owns the film rights to both the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises (the latter acquired back in 1993), thus excluding them from the tethered MCU ecosystem and granting them limited financial windfall, the Disney-owned superhero behemoth Marvel has undertaken a series of covert actions against these two valuable properties.If you think Marvel's metaphorical attack on the movie's cast and crew inside a comic sounds weird, it sure does. As does their efforts to remove the FF and X-Men from covers and t-shirts. That doesn't mean it'll determine the movie's box office receipts. What should is the movie's merits.
Last October, Marvel Comics announced at New York Comic-Con that it had abruptly canceled the Fantastic Four comic book series. “We had heard that Marvel wanted to use the Fantastic Four characters in future Avengers films, so it could be a way for Marvel to put pressure on the studio,” wrote Deadline at the time. The Avengers’ two-part film finale, dubbed Infinity War, hits theaters in 2018 and 2019, and in the comics, the Fantastic Four play a substantial role in the apocalyptic proceedings—as does Spider-Man, though Marvel managed to strike a deal in February to share custody of the web-slinger with Spidey’s licensee, Sony.
If that weren’t enough, last November, Marvel decided to kill off most of the members of Trank’s Fantastic Four movie ensemble—Teller, Mara, and Bell—in a Fantastic Four comic. Yes, they literally blew up the actors in the comic, right after they referred to their director as “Trang” and speculated on the film’s planned sequel, set to hit theaters in 2017. Oh, and Marvel has taken it upon themselves to retroactively erase the Fantastic Four (and X-Men) from comic book covers and t-shirts of its famed ‘80s series Secret Wars.
On the merchandising front, XM Studios Premium Collectables was mid-way through producing beautifully-rendered sculptures of Fantastic Four and X-Men characters, but earlier this week announced (and then deleted) from their Facebook page that, “due to reasons we aren’t at liberty to disclose, we have been asked to put a hard stop to all X-Men characters for now” and “Fantastic Four too” due to the “same issue.”
But Marvel still isn't doing any good by acting so vindictive about Fox's refusal to give up movie rights to whatever property they sold in the past. At worst, it only bodes worse for their own comics output, making them look censorious over peanuts. In the end, it's only Marvel's publishing arm and merchandise division that's going to suffer, a situation that isn't really new.