Disney’s Hollywood dominance will soon expand, and with it, Marvel’s reign over the superhero genre.
Comcast announced that it was backing out of its bid for Fox assets on Thursday, leaving the door wide open for Disney to finally acquire the Fox film studio and other assets for $US71.3 billion.
There are a lot of questions that arise from this merger, notably how it will affect the Hollywood and box-office landscapes. But it also means big things for the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe, which now has a chance to incorporate Fox-owned properties into the franchise.
Characters like the X-Men, Wolverine, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four will be at Marvel’s disposal once the deal is finalised. Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that the MCU may try a “new franchise beyond ‘Avengers’” in the future, and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called next year’s “Avengers 4” a “conclusion.”
On top of that, veteran actors of the franchise like Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, have teased that they are ready to retire after “Avengers 4.” “Avengers: Infinity War” set up a reunion between the original Avengers in the sequel, and I’ve written about why that could mean some of those characters’ last hurrah.
With all of that in mind, Disney’s merger comes at a perfect time if the MCU is planning to head in a new direction after “Avengers 4,” but it could also have huge ramifications for all of the characters involved.
Below are 11 heroes, villains, and events that could be introduced to the MCU after the Disney/Fox merger, and what it could mean for the franchise:
The “X-Men” franchise is nearly two decades old, and has more films scheduled for release next year. But both “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” and “The New Mutants” were pushed back, which might signal trouble. The timeline of the franchise has also become a convoluted mess, so it might be the perfect time for Disney to swoop in.
While the franchise has generated successful entries recently, such as “Deadpool” and “Logan,” those movies were loosely connected to the larger universe, either mocking it or ignoring it.
It’s impressive that the X-Men movies have been able to succeed, for the most part, the last 18 years and counting. But the Disney/Fox merger would mean the characters could be introduced into the MCU and given new life. If Disney wants to focus on another franchise beyond Avengers, then the X-Men is the logical next step.
The MCU has already introduced characters tied to both the X-Men and Avengers’ history in the comic books with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver – it just couldn’t refer to them as mutants. Now the franchise might be able to use that word, which would open up many story options, particularly with Scarlet Witch.
The most popular X-Man, Wolverine was played for 17 years by Hugh Jackman. It might be hard for audiences to get used to another actor in the role if Marvel were to re-introduce the character.
In fact, it might be wise to not introduce him at all. Wolverine was always the backbone of the “X-Men” movies, but with the support of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the X-Men may not necessarily need its star player. The MCU has managed to make lesser-known characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange popular among general audiences, and with the added benefit of already being a popular franchise, the rest of the X-Men could have their chance to shine.
If the MCU were to introduce Wolverine, though, perhaps the character could be more involved with the Avengers than the X-Men. Even though the MCU may focus on another franchise in the future, Iger also said that that wouldn’t mean the end of “Avengers” movies. In the comics, Wolverine is a member of the New Avengers, a team that forms after the original Avengers disband. If the MCU is going to focus on its newer characters after “Avengers 4” – like Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel – then this wouldn’t be too far out.
In the comics, Scarlet Witch is the daughter of Magneto. Since Magneto was owned by Fox, Marvel hasn’t included this storyline in the MCU, and we know little about Scarlet Witch’s past other than she was experimented on by Nazi scientists and given her powers through an Infinity Stone.
But what if that’s not the whole story? Introducing Magneto in the MCU would open up possibilities for Scarlet Witch beyond her minimal role thus far.
Deadpool and the X-Force
As the movies have indicated, Deadpool isn’t a character that would translate well into the MCU. He’s foul-mouthed, murderous, and regularly breaks the fourth wall. There’s no telling what Disney would do with the character – if it would try to, ironically, insert him into the MCU or if it would continue his films separate from the universe.
Ryan Reynolds has indicated he’s not sure if a “Deadpool 3” will happen, which gives Disney an out in that regard. But Fox is developing a spin-off about X-Force, the mutant team seen in “Deadpool 2.” It remains to be seen how the merger will affect that movie, which Drew Goddard is set to direct.
The Fantastic Four, Marvel’s “First Family,” have gotten the short stick the last few years. The 2015 film reboot was a huge misfire, bombed at the box office, and was torn apart by critics. The team has even been absent from the comics. But they’re set for a return this August, so it may be as good a time as ever to reintroduce them to the big screen, as well.
The Fantastic Four and all of their fun, cosmic weirdness are perfect for the MCU, and if anything can make them worthwhile on film, it’s this franchise.
“Fargo” and “Legion” creator Noah Hawley is currently developing a solo movie about the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis Doctor Doom for Fox. He told Business Insider last month that Fox would like to “move quickly” on the project but there is “some uncertainty” due to the Disney deal.
Silver Surfer and Galactus
In the comics, the Silver Surfer is a “Herald” of the world-devouring cosmic entity known as Galactus, and is responsible for finding Galactus planets to consume until he eventually turns on his master. Galactus is not only an enemy of the Fantastic Four, but the entire Marvel Universe. If Marvel eventually wants its new franchise to build up to events like “Infinity War,” Galactus is a worthy villain.
Both characters previously appeared on screen in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Surfer was actually depicted well, but Galactus was nothing more than a non-threatening giant space cloud.
Alpha Flight is basically the X-Men of Canada. It may sound silly, but if Guardians of the Galaxy can work, then so can Alpha Flight – and there would be a couple different ways they could be introduced.
First, Wolverine is from Canada, so if Marvel introduced the X-Men/Wolverine, they could also introduce Alpha Flight. Second, Captain Marvel currently leads a rebranded Alpha Flight team in the comics, which is now a space-based team that defends Earth from alien threats. Seeing that Captain Marvel is starring in her own movie next year, it wouldn’t be difficult to introduce some version of this idea.
The MCU has been built around “phases,” each one ending with a different “Avengers” movie, and it has all led to next year’s “Avengers 4,” which is a concluding chapter in this era of the MCU.
Going forward, Marvel will likely use new characters to build up to different events, similar to “Infinity War.” It’s also loosely adapted events/storylines from the comics and scaled them down, such as “Civil War” (“Captain America: Civil War”) and “Planet Hulk” (“Thor: Ragnarok”).
“Annihilation” is a 2006 Marvel Comics event about a war involving Marvel’s space-based characters, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Silver Surfer, Galactus, and the shape-shifting alien Skrulls.
The Nova Corps, a galactic police force, was already introduced in the MCU in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and were said to be wiped out by Thanos in “Infinity War.” But that sets up Nova’s origin story as the final Nova Corps officer.
The Skrulls will likely be introduced in “Captain Marvel” next year.
With Fox-owned characters like Surfer and Galactus, the MCU could build up to an event similar to “Annihilation.”
House of M
“House of M” is a 2005 Marvel Comics event in which Scarlet Witch alters history to create a reality where mutants no longer exist.
If the X-Men and mutants are introduced into the MCU, then this could be a potential event to build toward. And if her connection to Magneto is brought into the equation, she could easily be pushed to a point emotionally where she loses control of her powers.
Civil War II
“Civil War II” is a 2016 Marvel Comics event in which Iron Man and Captain Marvel are on opposing sides of a debate surrounding the ethics of changing the future. They discover a young Inhuman who has the ability to see the future. Captain Marvel thinks the heroes have a responsibility to use the gift to stop crimes before they happen, whereas Iron Man is opposed.
Marvel’s “Inhumans” TV show bombed, but after the Fox acquisition, Marvel could easily swap out “Inhuman” with “mutant.” And if Iron Man has a limited role in the MCU’s future, then a character like Black Panther could take his spot in this conflict for the big screen.
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