News

How Does Disney's Fox Acquisition Affect Marvel?

The massive merger is now official: Find out where Deadpool, Wolverine, the Defenders, the New Mutants, and others stand in the new world order.

by | March 20, 2019 | Comments

© Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

After the nearly two years of corporate courtship, a rival suitor in the form of Comcast, and a long stroll through regulatory scrutiny, The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of nearly all of 21st Century Fox’s media holdings closed at 12:02am EDT Wednesday night. The roughly $70 billion deal changes the landscape of media in several drastic ways. For starters, there are now only five major movie studios, with analysts predicting there will be five to seven fewer major releases in a given year from now on. Additionally, Disney now own tons more popular intellectual property, including Star Wars, Alien, The X-Files, Avatar, and, of course, the Marvel Comics characters.

Until Wednesday, that last asset existed in a split state. Two of Marvel’s high-profile properties — the X-Men and the Fantastic Four — have been under Fox’s control since the mid-1990s. According to the terms of the deal Marvel Comics made during a particularly bad financial time, Fox would control the media destinies of both properties in perpetuity as long as it continued to make and develop films based on the characters. From the moment Disney’s acquisition of Fox was announced, fans assumed those properties would end up part of Marvel Studios’ wide range of characters, which appears to be the correct assumption; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that the company will now have access to the characters previously held by Fox.

Now that Disney’s Marvel and Fox’s Marvel are one entity, what will that joined vision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe look like and how soon will it happen? Here are six answers to questions you may be asking about Marvel’s role in Disney’s Fox acquisition.


RELATED: 


1. How soon will Wolverine show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Throughout 2018, people including Feige insisted Marvel could not even begin to cook up ideas for the X-Men or Fantastic Four until the deal for the merger officially closed. There was also some talk about keeping the Fox-controlled Marvel assets separate, but that notion was later dismissed by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

“There shouldn’t be two Marvels,” he said back in September.

Since we previously assumed a lingering Fox contingent might delay Marvel Studios’ control of the characters, we counted out an X-Men stinger in Avengers: Endgame. Instead, we predicted Logan’s adamantium claws might appear in a 2021 mid-credits stinger scene. Now, we think it is possible — though still highly unlikely — the characters might be referenced in a singular image or a word. (It would have to be something easily shot in the next week or two as the studio could not use any of the characters or iconography until now.)

But even if Marvel manages to add a Fantastic Four or X-Men tease to Endgame, that stinger moment is all we will see of the characters for some time. Marvel Studios’ 2020 output inches closer to production even if the company declines to reveal their schedule until after Endgame’s release. At this point, we know The Eternals, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and sequels for Doctor Strange and Black Panther are in the pipeline. Presumably, three of those projects will fill the 2020 release dates. Of course, the studio has altered its plan before, bumping Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and a proposed Inhumans film to secure a place for Spider-Man: Homecoming. With that in mind, it is possible the first Marvel Studios X-Men or Fantastic Four film could happen in 2021, particularly if Feige ever gets back to Legion’s Noah Hawley about his Doctor Doom script.


2. Will Dark Phoenix and New Mutants Still Be Released?

While Dark Phoenix will hit theaters this June, the fate of New Mutants is more tenuous. Though still slated for an August 2 release, the film’s planned 2018 reshoots (that would change more than 50 percent of the film and introduce a new character to the story) reportedly never took place and are no longer scheduled to occur.

Until the deal closed, Fox had to abide by its original agreement with Marvel Entertainment and release X-Men films at regular intervals. It also had to plan for a future in which it and Disney remained separate entities just in case the deal fell through or was delayed beyond the summer. Around this time last year, both films were pushed back to accommodate reshoots. But considering New Mutants’ additional photography never took place, it is fair to wonder if Fox delayed both films to save on development costs for other X-Men projects Marvel may eventually cancel. There is plenty to suggest this was the case and it may lead to New Mutants losing its theatrical release.


3. What Other Marvel Films Did Fox Have In Development?

Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand (Mary Evans/Twentieth Century Fox / Marvel Comics/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)
(Photo by Mary Evans/Twentieth Century Fox / Marvel Comics/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

Under the spirit of “business as usual” in the event the deal fell through, Fox planned to expand its output of Marvel-based films to three projects per year. The plan included more X-Men sequels while branching out with lesser known characters.

One project centering on fan-favorite mutant Kitty Pryde was announced and would see Deadpool director Tim Miller returning to the X-fold. Said to be based on Uncanny X-Men #143, the film would focus on Kitty’s struggle against a N’Garai demon while spending a lonely Christmas night in the X-Mansion. Comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis was said to be adapting the issue into a feature script for Miller. Neither has commented on the project’s prospects.

Though little has been said since word first broke about the project, James Franco was set to star in a film focusing on X-Factor favorite Jamie Madrox, a.k.a. The Multiple Man. Franco’s real-life troubles may have sent this one to the back-burner, but considering X-Men characters must now compete with Shang-Chi and The Eternals for one of Marvel Studios’ coveted release dates, expect any solo X-Men outings to be a late 2020s development. Channing Tatum’s long-delayed Gambit film is also more than likely kaput.

As we mentioned above, Noah Hawley signed on to develop a feature film for the greatest of Marvel villains, Doctor Doom. Recently, the Legion FX series executive producer revealed Feige asked about the draft he completed some time ago. Unfortunately, Hawley has not heard from the Marvel Studios boss since. But since we all want Doom to face off against the heroes, we hope this one works out.
Finally, X-Force, the Deadpool 2 spin-off, was expected to begin shooting in late 2018 under the direction of Bad Times at the El Royales Drew Goddard. With cast members like Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, and Ryan Reynolds reprising their Deadpool 2 roles, it seemed set to become the last Fox-produced X-Men film. Sadly, Goddard refused to comment on the project following news of the acquisition’s imminent closure. And with X-Force co-creator Rob Liefeld openly discussing the film’s demise on Twitter, we’re going to assume this one is also toast.


4. What About Deadpool 3?

As Reynolds once joked, they may skip the third film entirely and go straight to Deadpool 4 or 5. The actor, who co-wrote the sequel with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, also said the narrative weight of taking everything away from the character in order to build him up again will only lead to diminishing returns. In light of that, he offered the possibility of playing Deadpool as a supporting character in films like X-Force. Reese and Wernick, meanwhile, have said they’d love to team Deadpool up with Spider-Man — a pairing so popular it had its own comic book.

It is possible Reynolds was just cushioning himself should Marvel Studios choose not to continue with his vision of Deadpool — it is a PG-13 production house, after all — but it may also be a savvy ploy to negotiate with the company for a sweet multi-picture contract in which Deadpool shows up, does something wacky, and disappears again. It is certainly possible to tone down some of Wade Wilson’s antics for the MCU, which is what the Christmas release of a PG-13 Deadpool 2 called Once Upon a Deadpool proved.

Meanwhile, Iger once told investors it is possible to carve out an R-rated niche for Marvel to allow for more Deadpool movies. On Tuesday, Reynolds posted a photo of Deadpool wearing Mickey ears and riding a school bus to celebrate the acquisition. What it means for the future is anyone’s guess.


5. Will Galactus Be the Phase 4 Big Bad?

(Photo by Marvel)

After Thanos presumably gets his comeuppance in Avengers: Endgame, will Marvel Studios sow the seeds of another intergalactic Big Bad? If they attempt such a thing, Fantastic Four antagonist Galactus would be of a size and shape worthy to follow Thanos — even his headgear is more thrilling! But that is assuming Phase 4 will have a Big Bad. And come to think of it, the term “Phase 4” rarely comes up in Feige’s comments these days.

It took three phases and 22 films — now known as The Infinity Saga — to get to Thanos, even if he was introduced in the first Avengers film. So Phase 4, if we’re still using that term, may just see the regrouping of the heroes who survive Endgame and the introduction of the Eternals and Shang-Chi. If that is the case, the new big bad would be introduced in a potential fifth Avengers film in, say, 2022 or wherever Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ends up on the schedule. It would also provide ample time for Feige to plan the integration of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU. And what better way to introduce Marvel’s first family than by the Avengers searching for them ahead of Galactus’s arrival? (We’re maybe getting carried away here, but we’re damn excited.)

Of course, we are assuming the next few years of MCU storytelling will use the same momentum as Phases 1-3. But considering Marvel Comics has been using the same narrative conventions in its event crossover comics for the last few decades — to say nothing of the financial rewards the studio established by using the technique — it seems a safe bet that Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, the Guardians, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four will unite to face some universe-shattering threat 22 films from now, if not sooner.


6. What of the Defenders and The Gifted?

Marvel's The Defenders (Sarah Shatz/Netflix)
(Photo by Sarah Shatz/Netflix)

Turning our attention to television, the Fox acquisition comes at an odd time for Marvel’s live-action initiatives. On ABC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a seventh season well ahead of its season 6 debut this summer. Cloak & Dagger returns to Freeform in a few weeks, and reports indicate Runaways second season was successful enough at Hulu for a third year to be all but a certainty. But over on Netflix, all of the Marvel shows were quickly cancelled following the debuts of their most recent seasons (except for Jessica Jones, which was cancelled ahead of its still-unscheduled season 3 debut). And from the way Netflix structures its deals, it will be some time before any of those characters can resurface on Disney platforms like Hulu (which the company now has a 60 percent stake in) or Disney+.

Meanwhile, the new Disney streaming platform indicates Iger’s desire for a single Marvel may not be in the cards just yet. Disney+’s Marvel television series will be produced by Marvel Studios, while all the television efforts to date are works of Marvel Entertainment. Yes, there is a difference, as the former is a division of The Walt Disney Studio, while the latter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. In short: Disney operates two Marvel companies and, sometimes, their interests do not align. This is ultimately why the Defenders did not make cameos in Avengers: Infinity War and why the final seasons of their shows saw no one turning to dust.

From the Fox standpoint, the acquisition offered an incentive to end Legion after three seasons on FX. While Hawley recently said he always saw the program as a three-year story, the changing nature of Marvel TV no doubt helped the executives OK the idea of ending it now. Meanwhile, The Gifteds future on the Fox broadcast network remains up in the air. The network — which was retained by newly minted Fox Corp. — plans to hold onto several popular series now owned by Disney (which acquired Fox’s TV studio branch as well), including The Simpsons. But The Gifted is not exactly popular. Also, there is no telling how it may interfere with Marvel Entertainment’s plans going forward or Marvel Studios’ long-term goals.

Fox later answered the media attention around the completion of the acquistion with a trailer:

In the meantime, Hulu and Marvel Entertainment announced an initiative to create four animated series for the platform, potentially leading to a stronger relationship between the two branches of the Disney empire. As it happens, Disney wants Marvel content to stay in house, so Disney brands like ABC, Disney+, Freeform, and Hulu are the places you will see future Marvel TV shows. Additionally, the newly acquired FX networks may prove a good outlet as well for projects more in the vein of Legion. Maybe the long-lost New Warriors will find a home on one of those channels.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

obituary blaxploitation Television Critics Association Apple TV Plus Lionsgate E! scorecard cancelled Emmy Nominations parents unscripted ghosts worst movies DC Comics Hulu Acorn TV ABC El Rey zombies Martial Arts Columbia Pictures Certified Fresh name the review composers Universal MTV concert Box Office book Musicals travel Sneak Peek Women's History Month cops south america Writers Guild of America Action zombie Family disaster Valentine's Day spanish romantic comedy HBO Max Star Trek series mission: impossible Food Network USA Network Chernobyl jamie lee curtis Vudu Disney+ Disney Plus spinoff Mindy Kaling justice league Interview laika BBC America cancelled TV shows Freeform TCM best Pride Month films TV renewals Paramount Network comiccon ABC Family Sci-Fi Esquire Pop natural history game of thrones classics japanese dragons romance chucky doctor who Biopics Tarantino Heroines Rock WarnerMedia Mary Poppins Returns emmy awards Rom-Com Infographic Best and Worst mockumentary Western BAFTA Fantasy Black History Month HBO Go Crunchyroll all-time TCA Awards die hard dceu X-Men FX on Hulu Oscars Captain marvel crime 4/20 joker Fox News true crime sequel social media zero dark thirty PlayStation Pop TV slashers Disney Syfy Polls and Games politics spain universal monsters Peacock toy story Brie Larson Music Awards Tour television Tumblr cults American Society of Cinematographers Cannes 72 Emmy Awards Spring TV foreign Hallmark cancelled television 2020 Marvel Studios YA screenings medical drama remakes New York Comic Con FOX Toys Trivia NYCC blockbuster Summer venice directors Epix GLAAD fast and furious thriller Disney streaming service 2019 binge cancelled TV series Reality Ellie Kemper MCU space Amazon Prime Video BBC mutant Podcast Red Carpet TCA 2017 The Academy ratings dark Star Wars VICE TNT LGBT VOD Binge Guide Paramount Photos PaleyFest DirecTV kids singing competition Starz AMC Set visit crossover Nat Geo Marvel SDCC worst psychological thriller A&E theme song psycho Mary Tyler Moore The Arrangement tv talk Watching Series BET police drama movie President sitcom LGBTQ golden globes FX Fall TV football USA San Diego Comic-Con hollywood CNN 2016 spanish language harry potter WGN war serial killer 2018 OneApp Amazon Prime what to watch DGA Election hist discovery TruTV Sundance Now rotten Rocketman 2017 werewolf Teen asian-american halloween tv streaming Cosplay TBS documentary IFC ESPN Logo YouTube Red satire based on movie child's play Masterpiece renewed TV shows Amazon Studios Drama Arrowverse RT21 Comics on TV ITV Shondaland canceled anime Quiz stand-up comedy Turner documentaries critics Elton John spider-man game show Amazon Sony Pictures Mudbound BET Awards finale Musical Marvel Television strong female leads Awards Dark Horse Comics 007 Hear Us Out National Geographic reviews nfl independent Apple cinemax Funimation TCA Rocky comic CMT MSNBC Spectrum Originals casting supernatural boxoffice reboot TIFF 45 stoner Superheroe Nominations indiana jones toronto Britbox rotten movies we love halloween TLC revenge Netflix Christmas movies sag awards festival Kids & Family nbcuniversal transformers Opinion The Walking Dead green book Video Games APB Character Guide cats Classic Film Christmas Superheroes E3 DC streaming service Showtime 20th Century Fox Creative Arts Emmys Endgame aliens hispanic Baby Yoda festivals adventure science fiction children's TV Apple TV+ indie Trailer Marathons crime drama BBC One HBO Grammys italian elevated horror Comedy Central See It Skip It Netflix History Discovery Channel Stephen King CW Seed Turner Classic Movies animated crime thriller Thanksgiving richard e. Grant GIFs archives First Reviews Holidays stop motion Black Mirror Walt Disney Pictures Hallmark Christmas movies Avengers Film Premiere Dates DC Universe Television Academy quibi 21st Century Fox video news 71st Emmy Awards Warner Bros. CBS Schedule dogs Winter TV Lucasfilm Adult Swim Calendar cars Disney Channel Horror versus period drama Cartoon Network PBS Song of Ice and Fire teaser Fox Searchlight cartoon facebook Pet Sematary First Look Film Festival franchise Lifetime Christmas movies Pixar french movies a nightmare on elm street 2015 YouTube Premium free movies australia scary movies batman screen actors guild Spike Travel Channel spy thriller criterion OWN IFC Films Crackle Reality Competition 24 frames YouTube Sundance TV dc Tomatazos Bravo comics Academy Awards TV Emmys Anna Paquin miniseries Animation witnail Super Bowl superhero comedies Mary poppins TV Land FXX The Purge talk show Countdown Lifetime RT History breaking bad historical drama technology political drama Winners TCA Winter 2020 Holiday vampires award winner canceled TV shows Shudder adaptation robots Nickelodeon A24 NBC GoT Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt The CW twilight Country Pirates docudrama Trophy Talk Tubi SXSW Comedy anthology diversity The Witch Year in Review Sundance biography sequels nature video on demand VH1 christmas movies cooking Extras Disney Plus latino Mystery CBS All Access Ghostbusters SundanceTV sports Comic Book Ovation dramedy