Did Marvel Really Snag The Fantastic Four Rights Back From Fox For A 2020 Reboot?

Marvel movie fans were shocked by a bombshell rumor last week when reports emerged that the House of Ideas had reached an accord with Fox to bring the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Was there any truth to the rumors, though? Well, Fantastic Four fans might want to sit down for this one.

Since Marvel turned into a seemingly unstoppable box office juggernaut behind the success of its Avengers line of movies, fans have been clamoring for Marvel to get the rights back to its most beloved franchises. Back before the success of Iron Man launched the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel was struggling for cash and had sold off the movie rights to Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Sub-Mariner, and the Fantastic Four.

Fox picked up the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four, turning Marvel’s merry mutants into a reliable franchise that will see the closing of its second successful trilogy next year with X-Men: Apocalypse. Fantastic Four, though, has been another story altogether. Fox has tried three different times to make the Fantastic Four take off on screen. The first two films saw solid returns, but weren’t enough to kick off the kind of franchise Fox wanted. The most recent Fantastic Four film was an unmitigated disaster, with director Josh Trank Twitter-torpedoing his own work the day before it opened to awful reviews and even worse box office totals.

Spider-Man, of course, went on to see a successful trilogy at Sony, followed by two more movies that saw solid box office receipts but a lukewarm overall reception. Sony eventually worked out a deal with Marvel that would see Spider-Man appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Sony and Marvel sharing creative duties and revenues.

Once news of the Spider-Man deal broke, fans were hopeful that Marvel might do the same with the Fantastic Four. Following this summer’s Fantastic flop, hopes were especially high that Fox might be on the verge of admitting defeat and working out a deal with Marvel. The thinking was that Marvel might leverage its TV rights over the X-Men to get Fox to let the Four come home.

Speculation hit a fever pitch over the last few days when reports emerged that those exact hopes had been realized. Marvel, sources alleged, had managed to come to terms with Fox to bring the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a subsequent reshuffling of Marvel’s movie lineup now imminent. Rumor had it that Marvel was looking at a 2020 release date for yet another Fantastic Four reboot, and fans were ecstatic.

Well, about that.

In an update to its initial story, Den of Geek dashed the hopes of fans, revealing that Fox had responded to the reports, saying that the rumors were “completely untrue.” Marvel also apparently issued a denial of the rumors, so it looks like the Fantastic Four movie rights still remain with Fox. Fox apparently remains committed to making Fantastic Four a successful franchise, with writer/producer Simon Kinberg telling MTV News back in September that, despite the abominable performance of the first attempt, he is “really focused on the [next Fantastic Four movie].”

But should fans give up all hope? Maybe not, considering that this sort of dealmaking does take time. Fox will have a hard time convincing fans that they should grab tickets to a sequel to one of this year’s worst-received flops, and the deal that brought Spider-Man back to Marvel took quite a while to finish after initial reports of such talks emerged in the Sony email hack scandal.

Still, fans that were looking forward to seeing the Fantastic Four alongside the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are going to have to keep waiting. They can maybe take some solace, though, in knowing that Josh Trank is unlikely to be let anywhere near the Four in the future.

[Image via Fox]