The comic book movie war rages on. As the dust begins to settle among contenders for the Spring/Summer market, the Disney-backed Marvel Studios emerges a clear winner. Captain America: Civil War indirectly competed with Warner Bros. and DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It experienced limited direct competition with 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
When reception and box office numbers are most directly compared, neither X-Men nor Batman v Superman came close. According to Box Office Mojo, Civil War earned over $1.1 billion as of this article. It is an impressive amount considering this is the third movie in a trilogy.
By comparison, Batman v Superman stalled at $872 million. It seems incredible to view such an impressive amount of money to be a failure, but the nature of this film dictated that it should have quickly earned a billion dollars. The DC comic book movie had the big three – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. These characters had never appeared together in film, much in the same way the Avengers characters hadn’t appeared together.
That Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t earn anywhere close to the Avengers was a bitter disappointment.
As for X-Men: Apocalypse, it wasn’t the disaster that last year’s Fantastic Four proved to be. However, its overall reception was somewhat lukewarm. It’s earned about $403 million worldwide, and it’s looking increasingly likely the movie will struggle to break $500 million worldwide.
And with the X-Men film franchise coming full-circle, despite a promised “Old Man Logan” film, it’s hard to feel this franchise has anywhere to go in its current state.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that the “secret weapon” that likely aided Captain America: Civil War’s success was a joint venture by Marvel Studios and Sony. The studio that presently owns Spider-Man had a serious problem. It owned a Marvel character who wasn’t benefiting from reboots, and the brand had no more stories to tell. At least, no stories that interested moviegoers.
To save Spider-Man’s popularity and profitability, Sony thawed its icy relations with Marvel Studios. Because of this, the studio can salvage a Marvel property they control while also expanding their access to characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A definite win-win scenario.
Should Spider-Man: Homecoming perform very well, it could send a powerful signal to 20th Century Fox: If you can’t beat Marvel Studios, it may be better to join Marvel Studios.
Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full swing, but what comes later? It’s possible that the Avengers: Infinity Wars films could tear the fabrics of the cinematic universe to shreds. Rebuilding reality could cause some bizarre consequences, including the creation of mutants and the Fantastic Four.
The bizarre origin of the MCU’s Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch has demonstrated that the Infinity Stones can have severe consequences for ordinary humans. It’s possible that an international or even galactic disaster might spawn a change in members of humanity.
The groundwork for anti-mutant bias already exists in the fear and treatment of the Avengers in Civil War. With the desire of governments to police super-powerful beings, it’s not hard to picture the creation of a “mutant registration act” in this movie universe.
Also, the cosmic element of the Marvel universe could serve as an excellent introduction for a revamped Fantastic Four. With the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain Marvel, the themes of space and space exploration are already there. For all we know, Reed Richards was one of the students who received an MIT grant by Tony Stark at the beginning of Civil War.
Fox does have an alternative “reboot route” in the wildly popular Deadpool franchise for its X-Men franchise characters. The same cannot be said for future Fantastic Four movies. Not only was the previous reboot attempt a complete failure, Michael B. Jordan (who portrayed Johnny Storm) has jumped ship to Marvel. He will appear in the new Black Panther movie.
Sure, Jordan could be replaced, but it would be a reboot within a failed reboot. Fox can’t afford to scrap the sequel because they’d lose the rights at some point. The Fantastic Four heroes, more so than the X-Men, would benefit a Marvel Studios makeover.
Perhaps seeing the X-Men and Fantastic Four “home” in Marvel will ultimately come down to whether Marvel Studios continues to dominate the comic book movie genre and how future Marvel properties perform while exclusively under Fox’s watch.
If things go completely south for Fox, then we might see X-Men and Fantastic Four join the MCU in Phase IV.
What do you think it will take for Fox to join forces with Marvel Studios? Comment below!
[Image via 20th Century Fox & Marvel Entertainment]