It’s only been three days since the news first broke that Sony and Marvel Studios would no longer be collaborating on the Spider-Man franchise, and already there are countless conspiracy theories making their way online about the details behind the split. Yet, while official statements have been released and fans have been rallying behind Marvel in signing petitions, as well as trying to enlist Ryan Reynolds as peacemaker, we’re still no closer to finding out the specifics.
Disney’s D23 Expo is taking place this weekend though and couldn’t have come at a more unfortunate time for Marvel. Spider-Man’s face is plastered all over the convention area, and unless Kevin Feige has some earth-shattering announcements planned for when he takes the stage later today, the ongoing issues with Sony will continue to dominate the headlines for the foreseeable future.
Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is heavily rumored to be a big part of Feige’s presentation, and perhaps in an effort to deflect focus away from the tension between themselves and Sony, the President of Marvel Studios could bring out the big guns: the X-Men and Fantastic Four. The properties recently acquired from Fox are already in active development in their new home, and a recent insider report on the inner workings of the Sony/Marvel split hinted that Disney wanted Feige to focus his full attention on the MCU’s newest additions, which may have resulted in them walking away from the negotiating table.
“Disney was partly motivated to walk away from the negotiations because it wants Feige’s full attention on the newly-acquired Fox properties. After Dark Phoenix bombed, one person familiar with Walt Disney Studios said co-chairman Alan Bergman insisted talks with Sony end. Another insider disputed Dark Phoenix as a motivator, but said Bergman led the charge on the deal.”
This makes total sense when you think about it. The X-Men and Fantastic Four are instantly-recognizable properties that Marvel Studios now has full autonomy over, whereas their involvement in the Spider-Man franchise required a lot of negotiation. If Sony are intent on playing hardball regarding the future of the character, then Marvel are entitled to walk away and focus on their own in-house projects.
Not only are the X-Men and Fantastic Four two properties that Kevin Feige has been dying to get his hands on for years, but both are in desperate need of rehabilitation. Dark Phoenix was both a box office disaster and the worst-reviewed movie in the entire franchise, while nobody seems to have a clue what’s happening with The New Mutants, which originally finished shooting almost three years ago.
As for the Fantastic Four, the superhero team have yet to be the subject of a decent big screen movie after four attempts and it will take a lot of work on the part of Marvel Studios to erase the memories of Josh Trank’s infamous 2015 disaster from the minds of audiences.