Has Fox given Marvel the Fantastic Four rights in exchange for X-Men TV rights?
In what may turn out to be the most predictable news of 2015, Den of Geek is reporting that the critical and box-office clobbering Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie took has spelled doom for the franchise at 20th Century Fox, and now the thing that has caused such a firestorm of controversy for them is finally going back where it belongs: Marvel Studios.
According to the site’s info, which has yet to be corroborated by official sources, rather than trying to integrate the much-loathed FF roster into their more successful X-Men universe, Fox is doubling down on the mutant biz by trading the Fantastic Four rights to the tarnished property (which also reportedly includes rights to key FF side characters like Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom and Galactus) to their Disney-owned rival in exchange for television rights to X-Men. This coincides with the recent announcements of pilots ordered for “Hellfire” and “Legion” at FOX, as well as the three mystery films Marvel just slated for release in 2020, one of which might very well be a Fantastic Four reboot.
While Marvel’s first family coming back into the fold sounds like a great idea, Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige and company have an uphill battle in terms of public perception of the property. If one counts the legendarily terrible unreleased Roger Corman production from 1994, this would mark the FOURTH big screen iteration of the characters, who also appeared in two critically-derided but financially-successful Fox movies in the mid-2000s directed by Tim Story. The 2015 film suffered from a decidedly dour tone, budget restrictions, creative meddling and studio-imposed (and highly-noticeable) reshoots that brought forth a film even its director publicly distanced himself from. It wound up only grossing $166 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest superhero bombs of all-time.
Like Spider-Man, who Marvel recently partnered with Sony to reintegrate into their cinematic universe, Feige already has contingency plans set up in case the Fantastic Four team is brought back to the MCU. Side characters like Galactus, Doctor Doom, The Silver Surfer and The Watcher played critical roles in the original “Infinity Gauntlet” comics stories of the ’90s and could very well be brought onto the board just in time for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War films that the Russo Brothers will direct.
As for now, with no official word from either Marvel or Fox, this may simply be overenthusiastic fan speculation, but food for thought for all the true believers out there.
UPDATE: According to io9‘s sources, the above rumor is just that, a rumor, and that Marvel and Fox have NOT made a trade for FF rights at this time.