Marvel Shorting ‘X-Men’ Due To Fox Deal Means More For ‘Avengers’ And ‘Guardians’

X-Men: Days of Future Past was one of the biggest movies of an otherwise disappointing summer movie box office for 2014. It, along with Captain America: The Winter Soldier,The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy, make for quite the collection of Marvel comic-based movie characters, but why do the X-Men seem to be getting short-changed compared to the others when it comes to outside promotions? Marvel editor Tom Brevoort gave his thoughts on the question in response to a fan question.

Brevoort was confronted with the following question about the lack of X-Men on his Tumblr page (via Bleeding Cool).

“Why isn’t there any X-Men cartoons? Why wasn’t there any licensing for [Days of Future Past]. WHY isn’t there Goldball toys or any new X-Men toys? Oh and of course No real X-News at the Cup o Joe panel. Thanks foe{sic] your time.”

It’s a fair question. The Avengers are now on their second cartoon, the Hulk has his own cartoon, and a Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon was just announced at Comic-Con. That’s not to mention the plethora of toys and other items currently available.

Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series
Guardians of the Galaxy is coming to Disney XD.

Brevoort made clear where Marvel’s efforts are focused though when it comes to animation and licensing and why in his response.

You’re talking about issues involving licensing and animation, and those are questions you’d need to ask to our people that oversee those areas. I will say two things, though, both of which are pretty self-evident, I think.

1) There are only so many hours in the day, and so many initiatives you can have going at once. So you need to pick and choose where you want to spend your time and your efforts.

2) If you had two things, and on one you earned 100 percent of the revenues from the efforts that you put into making it, and the other you earned a much smaller percentage for the same amount of time and effort, you’d be more likely to concentrate more heavily on the first, wouldn’t you?

This of course refers to the licensing deals that Marvel struck with Fox for X-Men and Fantastic Four, plus Spider-Man with Sony. Both deals were made when Marvel was going through bankruptcy in the mid-1990s due to a run of bad business decisions and the popping of the comic book bubble. The deal with Sony was eventually re-negotiated to give Marvel more favorable terms, which is why you still see Spider-Man cartoons and products on store shelves. The same can’t be said for Fox and X-Men.

As commenter Jeremy Wurm reminded me, the Wolverine and the X-Men animated series that aired on Nickelodeon was cancelled not long after Walt Disney purchased Marvel. It’s understandable that Disney didn’t want a property on a competitor’s channel but The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series was brought over to the Disney XD channel from The CW.

All New X-Men #13
The cover of All-New X-Men Issue #13.

The different X-Men comics are still among the best-selling Marvel comic books, according to recent sales figures (via ComicChron). The recent All New X-Men series is only surpassed by Amazing Spider-Man and the Original Sin event series for April, May, and June. Other series from the Marvel comics library such as The Avengers regularly sell less.

So the popularity of the X-Men is still strong based on the performance of Days of Future Past and comic book sales. Marvel’s decision is based solely on the current deal with Fox. The question now is whether that deal will ever be renegotiated or how much Marvel will de-emphasize the merry band of mutants from its universe including other characters that Fox owns like Deadpool and the Fantastic Four.

What do you think? Is this just a smart business decision on Marvel’s part or are they giving the short shrift to X-Men fans?

[Images via Marvel, 20th Century Fox]

[Update: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was mistakenly left out as part of the summer of Marvel character movies. That’s been fixed.]