On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Disney is buying most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. That's certainly a lot of money, but Disney is going to get a whole lot in return — especially when it comes to superheroes. When it comes to how the Disney/Fox deal will affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe, well, many superhero fans will be happy with the way this universe is expanding, especially if they've been waiting for an opportunity to see the X-Men or the Fantastic Four fighting alongside the Avengers. However, there’s also a lot about this news that’s concerning for reasons having nothing to do with what you’ll see on the big screen.
In the deal, Disney will get the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool. In a statement, representatives of the company explained that the landmark deal will reunite these Marvel characters with the rest of the Marvel family "under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love."
That reunion will come in handy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) overhaul, which is set to take place after Disney releases the fourth — and believed to be final — Avengers movie in 2019. The release of that film, which would end the Infinity Story and is slated to be Marvel's 22nd, would end "Phase Three" of the MCU. But Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Vanity Fair recently that there's another phase of Marvel films still to come: “We’ve got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that’s come before — intentionally."
These new additions — which Disney previously didn't own due to licensing deals Marvel made in the '90s — would certainly help send the MCU in a different direction including new crossover stories. On top of that, fans would likely get more reboots of Fantastic Four; after all, previous attempts to revive the series in 2015 and 2005 were unsuccessful. The latter version starred Captain America himself, Chris Evans, who recently tweeted his own idea for a Cap/Human Torch crossover that could happen now.
It's Fantastic Four which is the most promising of the Fox properties, according to The Verge. Disney can them a clean slate to start all over by re-casting and re-thinking the direction of siblings Johnny and Sue Storm, along with Reed Richards and The Thing. Meanwhile, The Inverse wonders if this deal will mean the next phase of the MCU will include a film based on the 2012 comic Avengers vs. X-Men. The popular comic was not unlike Infinity War, in that the two sides go head to head, but will Disney execs really turn down a chance to get this gang together? Probably not.
While it's unclear what exactly Disney has planned for these new characters, with this deal on the table, they're at least now able to make those plans. But there's still a big problem with Disney having unfettered access to the Marvel Universe: they also have a monopoly over the superhero market.
As io9 reported, this deal will have a serious effect on the film industry moving forward, since Disney would basically be taking down one of the biggest film studios to become even bigger. Without counting Marvel Studios, Disney already holds the keys to some of the biggest franchises, including the Pixar films and Star Wars. With this deal, Disney gains rights to the original 1977 Star Wars movie, which was produced by Fox. That, according to a statement from Disney CEO Bob Iger, “opens new opportunities” for the franchise. And Disney also earned the rights to franchises like Ice Age, Planet Of the Apes, Die Hard, and Avatar, which is scheduled to release four more follow-up films.
Disney would have a huge stake on these huge franchises, and that could earn the attention of anti-trust regulators. Iger said in his statement that the deal isn't really about the money, but "reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before.” But io9 wonders how diverse a film industry can be with only one studio calling the shots.
It's a good question and one that should be asked by everyone — even those who are happy to see Marvel characters reunited.