The Mouse wins again.
As CNBC first reported early this morning, The Walt Disney Company has reached a deal to purchase 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The acquisition will give Disney ownership of the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with several other cable, streaming, and international businesses.
For comic book fans, this deal is particularly exciting as it effectively brings the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Deadpool home to the MCU. Massively expanding the Studios toy chest leading into phase 4, which begins after the release of Avengers 4 in 2019, and legally allows Kevin Feige and his team to play with some of the biggest stories from the pages of Marvel Comics. Including those with characters such as Wolverine, Galactus, and the Silver Surfer.
Over the past few days, there had been rumors that the rights to the Fantastic Four could remain with Constantin Film, the company that had previously shared the rights with Fox. But, that issue, if it ever really factored into this, has clearly been resolved given that the Fantastic Four franchise was specifically named among entertainment properties joining Disney and, more specifically, the Marvel family in the official announcement.
Part of the official announcement stated:
“Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s critically acclaimed film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, which together offer diverse and compelling storytelling businesses and are the homes of Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool..”
“The agreement also provides Disney with the opportunity to reunite the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love. The addition of Avatar to its family of films also promises expanded opportunities for consumers to watch and experience storytelling within these extraordinary fantasy worlds.”
While the X-Men franchise still has a number of films on the horizon independent of Disney’s creative control, with Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and New Mutants on the way in 2018, Marvel Studios will likely be looking to work these new additions in to the fold pretty quickly. How the currently slated projects for 2019, and even 2020 are impacted will depend largely on how quickly this deal is completely finalized. It’s also possible that Disney may want to give certain characters a rest before they are likely rebooted in the MCU.
Another big question for many fans is whether Disney will continue to release R-rated movies featuring Marvel characters, particularly Deadpool, the way Fox has been over the past few years. If not, it will likely mean large scale changes for X-Force and Multiple Man, if they aren’t dropped from the slate entirely. It would also mean a very different Deadpool 3 than we might have gotten under Fox.
In a conference call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger did leave the door open for additional R-rated Marvel films by saying, “there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming.”
However, at some point, the future of Deadpool will likely move to the PG-13 realm, and that really isn’t a bad thing. The character has plenty of PG-13 source material and honestly has more to offer moviegoers than F-bombs and frat house sex jokes.
Deadpool learning to operate within a PG-13 universe, with his signature self-aware breaks in the fourth wall, could actually be pretty funny. Ryan Reynolds, if he’s willing, could use his quick wit to take shots at the move to Disney and the MCU. In fact, his hilarious response to todays announcement is the perfect example of this.
Apparently you can’t actually blow the Matterhorn. pic.twitter.com/2bEAAcZrUv
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 14, 2017
There are still many questions to be answered, and the Marvel portion of this deal is only a small piece of Disney’s much larger acquisition overall…but I’d say it’s a safe bet that Kevin Feige is smiling big tonight.
Read the official release in its entirety here.