Fantastic Four debuted in theaters only a week ago, yet it’s already considered an embarrassing flop. The film earned about $26.2 million in the U.S. during its opening weekend, a total that was barely half of what was originally anticipated. It’s very likely that the latest Fantastic Four reboot won’t pay for the $120 million in expenses accrued during filming.
This situation is somewhat familiar to comic book movie fans. When the Amazing Spider-Man sequel tanked, it left Sony in a desperate position. In a move that many dreamed of (but few saw coming), Sony decided to play nice with Marvel Studios and let Spider-Man debut as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Some wonder if this move will open the door for Marvel to eventually bring the popular web-slinger completely back into the fold.
— MovieWeb (@MovieWeb) August 10, 2015
In fact, a slew of properties returned to Marvel recently. The re-acquisitions were due to Fox’s failure to effectively capitalize on the properties. Returned characters included Daredevil, a hero that recently starred in a critically-acclaimed Netflix series.
Some view Daredevil‘s success as proof-positive that Marvel deserves to get all of their properties back, including the Fantastic Four.
— Polygon (@Polygon) August 11, 2015
It’s easy to argue that the Fantastic Four team is even worse off than Spider-Man. The reboot strayed far from the series’ familiar back story and offered nothing in the way of action or entertainment (a serious “no-no” when dealing with summer comic book blockbusters).
The easy answer is to send the Fantastic Four home to Marvel, where with a bit of TLC, they’ll be reintroduced as the characters known and loved by many. However, that solution is neither easy nor necessarily the answer for the Fantastic Four movies.
Remember, the MCU is in “Phase 3” right now. Marvel is preparing to introduce a host of new characters to their budding cinematic universe. Such heroes include the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, and (thanks to Sony) Spider-Man. Marvel was happy to push back the release of certain films to make room for Peter Parker because, as Marvel fans know, he did play an important role in the Civil War story arc.
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) August 11, 2015
No such justification exists that would allow the Fantastic Four to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The events due to unfold during Phase 3 could justify such an opening. But it will probably be a decade before Marvel would bother to re-introduce the Fantastic Four. That’s actually long enough for Marvel to passively regain control of these characters.
The genius of the MCU is it gives Marvel all the time in the world to construct a universe where a Fantastic Four movie makes sense, while at the same time allowing Fox to crash, burn, and then crawl over to the table to hash out a deal.
Marvel is no longer the nearly bankrupt company that gave away its properties in the 90s. Marvel Studios has worked with Disney to build a successful, self-sustaining universe packed with characters. Presently, the MCU doesn’t need the Fantastic Four or X-Men.
Compare this to the faltering Fantastic Four franchise, which is so far-gone that many are skeptical linking up with the X-Men or Deadpool can save it.
— Complex (@ComplexMag) August 10, 2015
For the Fantastic franchise survive, something has to be done with the property and fast. The danger for 20th Century Fox is that by the time the studio gets around to compromising with Marvel/Disney, they will be in a genuinely vulnerable position — The sort of position where they have to give up far more than they bargained for to turn a profit.
— Indy Film (@TheIndyFilm) August 12, 2015
If that’s what Marvel and Disney want, don’t expect them to step up to rescue Fox and the Fantastic Four anytime soon. Marvel went so far as to cancel comics to prevent Fox from getting any assistance with Fantastic Four. It’s doubtful good will will suddenly materialize after such a horrific flop.
If this mess gets cleaned up at all, it will probably be entirely on Fox to save the Fantastic Four franchise. Whether the studio has the patience and intelligence to do so remains to be seen.
Do you think Fox should send the Fantastic Four back to Marvel? If Marvel takes the characters back, how will they even fit into the existing universe?
Share your thoughts and theories below!
[Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox/Screen-capture from YouTube]