2017 stands to be the biggest year in recent memory for films inspired by comic books. DC has a lot to prove this year with both its WONDER WOMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE films. The Marvel cinematic universe continues its strong lineup of comic book films with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. TWO, as well as its stand-alone film SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. And Fox is reaching the end of an era with its X-Men film titled LOGAN, as Hugh Jackman has stated that this movie is the last time he will portray the iconic character Wolverine. While Fox has not indicated that LOGAN will be the final film in its X-men franchise, it only seems appropriate to make it so, as Hugh Jackman is the franchise’s breakout star. And while it seems like a bit of wishful thinking, this possible end represents the perfect opportunity for Fox to sell its distribution rights of the X-Men back to Marvel and allow them to reboot the team into their cinematic universe.
The plot of LOGAN seems to acknowledge that this film will be the franchise’s last. An IMDB or Wikipedia search reveals that this movie draws heavily on Marvel Comics’ OLD MAN LOGAN storyline, in which an older, aged Logan has ditched both the Wolverine persona and the use of his claws in a post-apocalyptic world. With the world seemingly at its end and the apparent lack of X-Men in this film besides Wolverine and Professor X, the question is…. Where does the franchise go from here? Do they continue with the cast from DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and AGE OF APOCALYPSE? If that were the case, they would have to recast Wolverine, which at this point would be like recasting the role of Luke Skywalker.
Besides the X-Men franchise coming to a logical conclusion, another reason to believe that an X-Men to Marvel deal is possible is that there is already precedent in place for two studios to share a character. By now everyone has already heard of the Spiderman to Marvel deal that Sony agreed to. Long story short, the basis of the deal is this; Marvel and Sony both get to share the character, both studios have a say in the direction of the character in the others films and Sony gets to use other characters that Marvel allows them to. So Sony now has total access to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as long as the vehicle they use is a Spiderman film. Financially, whoever distributes the film gets the proceeds of the movie. Since AVENGERS: CIVIL WAR wasn’t a Spiderman film, Marvel was allowed to use the character and collect the money from the film. Since SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a Spiderman film, Sony will be receiving the money.
While it can be confidently stated that Marvel is the dominant force in the comic book film niche, there was a time when Fox’s X-Men ruled the cinematic landscape, and Fox still remembers those glory days. This mindset could become a roadblock to a potential deal, as Fox could come to the conclusion that they are better off holding on to the characters they have in their control and try to re-establish the dominance they once had. Realistically this seems to be Fox’s mindset, as LEGION is set to debut February 8th and another mutant show featuring the X-Men is in the pipe. While that doesn’t sound bad, it seems as though Marvel and Fox have been playing story telling politics for years. For example, Marvel has stopped producing comics of The Fantastic Four as to not give Fox any new material to work with. Fox counters this by simply rebooting the franchise every once in awhile, so they do not lose the rights. Same goes for the X-Men, as Marvel seems to be promoting the Inhumans over them whenever possible in the comics. While this wouldn’t hurt a franchise like X-Men for the foreseeable future, it helps Marvel that the X-Men franchise will eventually run out of source material.
Although the relationship between Fox and Marvel seems to be chilly, this is the world of business. If there is a way for both studios to make money off a deal with each other, then the possibility remains. While a potential deal such as this could be good for the X-Men, it also makes sense for another Fox-controlled character, DEADPOOL. Limiting Deadpool’s interactions with the X-Men was all right for the first film, but the possibilities of having the entire Marvel ensemble (Tell me an interaction between Chris Evans’ Captain America and Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool wouldn’t be hilarious) is something worth exploring. Hopefully, Fox can come to the same conclusion that Sony did and reconcile with Marvel. Then, we as viewers can come one step closer to seeing what we really want to see: all of the Marvel comic characters in the same cinematic universe.