As the months passed following the release of the Fantastic Four, more and more people have tried to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Almost every actor involved expressed their disappointment in the film’s reception. The director himself had disowned the movie days before it even came out. In the end, the Fantastic Four reboot will go down in history as one of the lowest installments of superhero movies in recent years.
So what now?
The release date for the Fantastic Four 2 (for the second time) was already set before the movie came out. I originally anticipated this as hope that the studio had faith in a great movie. As we can see, that didn’t pan out.
That being said, Fox has not officially cancelled the sequel to this film. Originally rumored to include Namor the Submariner or Galactus (again), there has been no news of any production on this film. In fact, most of the cast is already speaking of the Fantastic Four series in past tense.
So while not officially cancelled, don’t expect another installment by Fox.
Reverting to Marvel?
In light of the recent deal between Sony and Marvel, one would think that characters returning to Marvel wouldn’t be a big deal. That line has been crossed, why not cross it again? Historically speaking, Fox has been more close-fisted about their characters, even going to court in the early 2000’s over a TV show Marvel produced including mutants (they won).
Fox has two options now. They can revert early, or wait out the time. To revert early, Fox might ask for compensation for the rights, basically selling them back to Marvel. If they didn’t, there is nothing to gain for Fox from not waiting out the expiration. If they chose to wait, it will take seven years for the rights to revert back to Marvel.
7 years. That’s 2022. For point of reference, that’s a good three years after Thanos is set to crash Infinity War Part 2. It’s well into Phase 4, possibly even at the end. If Marvel chose to do something with the characters, they could do a FF movie in Phase 5. That’s a long ways away.
Is it the characters’ fault?
Some have ventured that the characters of the Fantastic Four simply don’t work on screen. A giant rock and the eternal candle may seem silly to modern audiences–maybe too silly. These people would say that the group shouldn’t be put on screen, because they’ll flop again and again. The characters worked in the 60’s, but not today. Even Marvel isn’t coming out with Fantastic Four comics anymore (the characters still exist, but no current FF line is available).
That being said, I would point again to the first Fantastic Four movie. Before the times of Earth-eating clouds or rushed plotlines, we had a movie that wasn’t a complete bust. Yes, it was cheesy. Yes, Doctor Doom deserves more. And yes, no one on God’s green Earth knows how to pronounce Ioan Gruffund. But it tripled its budget worldwide. And did well enough to produce a sequel. And is actually kinda enjoyable.
Remember the good times, my friends. Marvel’s first family is supposed to be goofy. It’s really just the audience that’s changed.
The Gold Mine of Characters
One thing to be said about the Fantastic Four film rights is that they have a treasure trove of characters. As Marvel’s first family, they were the first to meet some of the most important characters in Marvel. Consider for a moment, if the rights did revert back to Marvel, who would come along with it:
Doctor Doom, Namor the Submariner, Galactus, The Silver Surfer, Skrulls, Annihilus, and perhaps even Kang the Conqueror (he first appeared in the FF, then went Avengers. He is a grey area of rights).
Wouldn’t these characters be worth investing in for Marvel? Galactus alone could be the best chief villain following Infinity Wars (there’s a reason he’s famous). Doctor Doom, done right, could be a world menace. The Skrulls could unlock the Secret Invasion. Annihilus could unlock the Annihilation Wave for the cosmic heroes to face.
While yes, the rights to some of these are mixed and could be Quicksilvered away, to have the rights of the FF back would mean unlimited freedom.
Furthermore, I don’t know the fine print exactly, but it’s possible that Fox could make standalone films for these characters. Especially those like Silver Surfer or Namor, that have stood alone for long periods of time.
The Fantastic Four are such a pivotal part of Marvel history. Following the failure of their latest film, the big question remaining is what happens to them now? Do they wait in Fox deadlock for 7 years? Does Fox try AGAIN? What happens to these characters associated with the FF? For now, my friends, only time will tell.