The rumor is that Fox is planning to shove the X-Men and the Fantastic Four together into a single movie in 2018. This also seems like common sense. With the manic consolidation of superheroes into massive teams, it’s only natural that Fox would want to combine forces in an effort to inject more Mutant Growth Hormone into the equation.
It’s essentially what they were trying to do when they started making stand-alone movies, starting with Wolverine. That X-Men Origins tag at the front wasn’t just set dressing, but when the expansion hit a huge speed bump with a laughably bad first installment, the Reverse Marvel collapsed. In an alternate universe, there are already Origins movies for Gambit, Deadpool and Professor X (alternate universe Fox is even considering a female superhero-led Origins!).
Which is sort of funny when you think about it. We give Marvel so much credit for revolutionizing the superhero team-up movie when X-Men was the first modern superhero team-up film. There were a ton of superheroes in it, all using their crazy powers in different ways that strengthened (or mortally wounded) the group. They just didn’t build up to it with individual movies that created or enhanced a fanbase for that single, specific character. The X-Men are a team to begin with, so Fox needed to spin-off their characters instead of spinning them in.
(This is also the best argument for why Warners and DC are fumbling the ball by rushing to put as many big name heroes as possible in Dawn of Justice. Groundwork. Turn several characters into stars, then lump them all together.)
Fox has been attempting to turn their team-superhero franchise into an expanded universe for a long time. They’ve also, quietly, been renewing that effort by rebooting the Fantastic Four’s movie hopes and looking to individual personalities to lead stand-alone films alongside an X-Men team that survived some bad years.
In his piece reporting on the rumor that the Four would join the X-Men in three short years, Da7e lays out a lot of things that need to happen in order for the universe to get that much bigger.
If Josh Trank’s reboot of Fantastic Four can manage not to suck and Fantastic Four 2 in 2018 isn’t a complete disaster in the production phase AND assuming X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t nose dive the entire franchise, the current plan is to have 2018’s Fox comic book movie be a crossover film that features the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
First of all, the key here is that Trank’s movie needs to “manage not to suck.” Da7e gets the wording right there, because even if Fantastic Four isn’t a runaway hit, the impetus for using them to balloon Fox’s comic properties will still be there. It needs to truly tank in order to kill this idea, and even then, a studio executive (at least one) will smartly argue that injecting them into an X-Men story might still be a great way to save a property they own the rights to. That voice might ultimately be shouted down by other executives (and shareholders) eager to sell Fantastic Four back to Marvel for Sony-bargain rates. If the movie is a big success, putting the two mutated groups of heroes together will be a genuine event.
The thing I don’t get is why Fox would double down so hard on the franchise. A Fantastic Four sequel in 2017 and a team-up movie featuring The Fantastic Four a year later? Three Fantastic Four-featuring movies in three years?
I understand that they don’t own a lot of superheroes, but that seems ridiculous, especially for the relatively tepid enthusiasm for the team. Gambit, Deadpool and the next X-Men are all due next year, and we should get a final Jackmanized Wolverine outing in 2017, too. In that sense, it feels like Fox is finally pulling its separate Marvel titles together on a bit of a down-slope. As if Marvel had waited until Robert Downey, Jr. was done playing Iron Man before they brought The Avengers together.
On the other hand, they have a lot of new characters emerging with the potential to find their own audiences and help bolster an extended universe. This goes back to Da7e’s list of Ifs. A lot of movies have to succeed (and/or not suck) in order for this concept to have any weight.
I hope they do succeed, though. As much fun as it is to fantasize about Marvel properties failing enough to fly home to Marvel’s arms, the likelihood of all Marvel properties being under one roof again is slim, and it would be fun to inject the X-Men world with different players, especially to expand the scope and stakes of what they’re fighting. Magneto has been the villain for too long. Plus, on a more basic level, I hope to be entertained by the non-hypothetical movies that are slated for the coming years. It seems strange to actively root against them for abstract reasons like the small possibility of seeing Reed Richards shake hands with Tony Stark in 2022. Still, since Fox is lacking on the superhero numbers front, maybe they should consider a team-up film with the X-Men, Assassin’s Creed and Independence Day. It’ll probably make sense.