The enormity of Disney’s acquisition of the 20th Century Fox film studio cannot be overstated. One of history’s biggest and most lauded movie studios is no longer independent, and is now simply a subsidiary of a larger conglomerate. Not to mention the fact that this acquisition will result in thousands of jobs lost as Disney looks to cut down on overlap. It’s sad, ultimately, and even though there are some interesting creative possibilities on the horizon, it’s important not to overlook the human and artistic cost of such a deal.
Much of the creative conversation surrounding Disney’s acquisition of Fox has been related to the Marvel Comics characters and properties that Fox had licensed. Until now, Fox has been producing films based on the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises as an independent entity, free of Marvel Studios’ creative oversight or having to fit into the overarching MCU plans. There are both positives (Logan) and negatives (Fantastic Four) to that, and we’re now about to see what happens when Marvel Studios has control over all of it.
But for those salivating at the idea of a rebooted Wolverine showing up at the end of Avengers: Endgame, it’s best to cool it for a bit. While Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is the only character expected to carry over from the Fox movies without being rebooted, Fox has two Marvel Comics adaptations still to release this year. There’s Dark Phoenix, which is the next film in the main X-Men franchise and marks the directorial debut of franchise writer/produdcer Simon Kinberg. And then there’s New Mutants, the horror/teen-focused adaptation directed by Josh Boone.
All signs point to Dark Phoenix serving as the swan song for the X-Men franchise as we know it, which began all the way back in 2000 with Bryan Singer’s admittedly groundbreaking first film. Disney-owned Fox will likely let Dark Phoenix’s release go by as planned, with the film poised to hit theaters this summer, but since deals for the principal actors—namely Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy—are up and the franchise is showing signs of aging, Marvel Studios is likely to reboot the X-Men series once that’s over with.
As for New Mutants, THR reports that not only is the film said to be troubled, but long-promised reshoots to give the film more of a horror tone haven’t even happened yet. The trade notes that while the film has a theatrical release date of August 2nd, it could end up on a streaming platform like Disney+ or Hulu, the latter of which Disney now holds a serious stake in thanks to the Fox deal.
But don’t expect reboots of anything in the immediate future. THR reports that any new Marvel Comics adaptations of Fox-held characters/properties produced by Marvel Studios won’t arrive until 2021 at the absolute earliest, owing to the length of time a traditional development process takes. Moreover, the future of previously announced Fox-Marvel adaptations like X-Force or Multiple Man are in doubt, as Feige will only now get a chance to check out the scripts, speak to the filmmakers, and decide how to proceed. Laws regarding the Disney acquisition mandated that Disney/Marvel could not become actively involved in these projects until the deal officially closed.
Further complicating matters are complex deals wrapped up with producers relating to the X-Men franchise. THR says series producer Lauren Shuler Donner is said to have a deal that calls for her to receive an executive producer on any and all X-Men movies whether she’s actively involved (she’s been with the franchise since the original X-Men), and THR notes that Kinberg could have a similar deal. Before a new film can be developed and released, Disney and Marvel Studios will have to untangle those deals or buy them out.
It should also be noted that Marvel Studios has been working these last couple years as if the Fox deal won’t happen, and thus has plenty of projects in development. While Feige and Marvel won’t announce their upcoming slate until after the release of this summer’s Spider-Man: Far from Home to keep spoilers under lock and key, the studio has been quietly developing a number of films, and THR says the Black Widow movie and the Chloe Zhao-directed The Eternals movie are expected to start shooting this year, likely for release in 2020. The Shang-Chi movie, which just landed a director, is expected to follow close behind, while sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy are all in active development.
All of this to say, while the Disney-Fox deal is now closed, it’s going to be a few years until fans can see the X-Men the Fantastic Four get rebooted. Marvel Studios has plenty ready to get in front of cameras in the meantime, and beyond all of this, the folks actually working at 20th Century Fox—the same people responsible for groundbreaking comic book adaptations like Deadpool and Logan—are now in fear of losing their jobs. So, you know, it’s important to maintain a little perspective about the whole thing.