X-Men, Iron Man and the Hulk in one film? Anything is possible since Disney’s huge Fox buyout
Disney’s US$52 billion deal has brought together superheroes from the X-Men universe and the Marvel pantheon under the same umbrella as Star Wars, Avatar and The Simpsons. The team-up possibilities are endless
The US$52.4 billion deal announced last Thursday, under which Disney gains a massive swathe of Fox entertainment and media properties pending final approval, offers specific rewards for fans of nerd culture.
One of the most hopeful developments is that Fox’s X-Men can live with Marvel’s Avengers on the same screen, given that Disney will own both major superhero teams, as well as the group that kicked off modern Marvel Comics five decades ago, the Fox-owned Fantastic Four.
The deal has far-reaching implications for how viewers consume content, especially the boost it provides to Disney’s forthcoming streaming services, given that Disney could amass 40 per cent of the domestic box office once you add Fox’s current share.
Together Fox and Disney own 10 of the top 20 titles on Box Office Mojo’s inflation-adjusted list of the top-grossing films in history domestically, including Star Wars and Avatar, both of which are ongoing franchises. Disney is trying to compete, not just with traditional studios, but also tech titans like Apple, Netflix and Amazon for control of content.
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But in terms of how this could alter what viewers see on the screen, Chris Evans – who starred in Fox’s Fantastic Four films before becoming Marvel’s Captain America – spoke for many fans last week when he tweeted about the exciting prospects of Hollywood team-ups:
“So who do I talk to about a Cap/Human Torch buddy comedy spin-off? I’m thinking Planes, Trains and Automobiles meets Parent Trap.”
Even Hugh Jackman mused recently on how the deal could fulfil what he long hoped for since he debuted as Fox’s screen Wolverine in 2000, telling Collider: “It’s interesting because for the whole 17 years I kept thinking that would be so great, like I would love to see Iron Man and the Hulk and Wolverine together. And every time I saw an Avengers film I could just see Wolverine in the middle of all of them like punching them all on the head. But it was like, ‘Oh well, that’s not gonna happen.’”
Jackman noted that though this year’s Logan marked his retirement from the role, “for someone else I would like to see Wolverine in there.” (Logan, like Deadpool, was violent, R-rated fare, raising the question of whether Disney will decide to use a separate umbrella for new R-rated superhero movies, or instead steer such Fox characters back to PG-13.)
Last week’s deal also provides an interesting bookend to the deal Marvel Comics struck with Fox, 24 years ago. Marvel mastermind Stan Lee and X-Men writer Chris Claremont met with Avatar director James Cameron in the early 1990s; after those talks didn’t gain traction, Marvel Comics – eager to land with a major studio – optioned the X-Universe rights to Fox in 1993.
“They were good deals at the time, in that they got us into the film business. We didn’t have the money or expertise to do it,” said past Marvel publisher Shirrel Rhoades in Reed Tucker’s new book, Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and D.C.
“Now, they’re bad deals because Marvel is doing so well with The Avengers and the other stuff. The people running Marvel wish those [earlier] deals had never been made.” (Worth noting: Fox’s 10 “X”-films have grossed a total of nearly US$5 billion worldwide.) Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, for US$4 billion. Now, though, those regretted deals go by the wayside.
Disney chief Bob Iger says, “Bringing Disney and Fox together will combine some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises.”
Avengers and mutants, assemble.