Let it be known that the newly-unveiled Disney-Fox merger is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, Marvel regaining control of X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four is enough to leave tongues wagging and wallets begging – make no mistake, Marvel Studios was the big winner coming out of yesterday’s historic announcement – but there is now a growing uncertainty over Fox’s broader X-Men strategy.
As things stand, 2018 will herald three movies from the X-family: The New Mutants, an untitled Deadpool sequel, and the hotly-anticipated Dark Phoenix. But look further down the pipeline and you’ll begin to uncover a series of big-name projects still gestating in the formative stages of development – Gambit, X-Force, X-23 and the James Franco-led Multiple Man.
It’s a tantalizing, wonderfully diverse lineup of superhero content, but The Hollywood Reporter brings word that some of those projects may be at risk following Disney’s acquisition. Out of the four films mentioned, Gambit and X-Force appear to be safe as houses. The former has since managed to lock down a February 2019 release date, after all, while Disney CEO Bob Iger has gone on record to rubbish talk that Deadpool was at risk of becoming a neutered, family-friendly hero.
There’s also the small matter of casting. Earlier this year, prominent X-Men stars like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence signed lucrative, one-film deals to appear in Dark Phoenix, so we assume Marvel and Kevin Feige, in particular, will want to recruit some fresh faces before injecting a new lease of life into the MCU, as trying to get those aforementioned individuals back for more would be extremely costly.
It’s the same strategy that Feige and Sony applied before tapping Tom Holland for Spider-Man: Homecoming, though sources close to THR warn that Disney may think twice about some of Fox’s current plans – namely that fabled New Mutants trilogy – once this deal is finalized.
If Disney is an NFL team, then every movie on the calendar is like a Heisman Trophy winner. This raises the bar of what is a theatrical release and insiders are already expecting casualties. [Feige] is going to be asked, ‘Do you want to continues on these developments paths?’
That means future instalments may be relocated to Disney’s planned streaming service, which is due to go live in 2019 with a live-action Star Wars series and, presumably, Toy Story 4. As THR points out though, there’s a very good chance Josh Boone’s New Mutants will resonate with its audiences, thus justifying putting the sequels in theaters.
Truth be told, there’s a lot of uncertainty swirling around this Disney-Fox merger, and that’ll likely continue for weeks (months?) to come. Nevertheless, X-Men composer and editor John Ottman believes Kevin Feige is the only one capable of bringing together both franchises.
Nobody is more passionate about these characters. Everything he touches turns to gold, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Marvel’s mutants.
You could say that Feige has the Midas touch. After 10 years and a ludicrous amount of box office revenue, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become Hollywood’s biggest outlet for competent, expertly crafted superhero movies. So let’s just hope that continues long into Phase 4 when the X-Men and other long-time Marvel characters begin to enter the fold.