Disney’s $52.4 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is great news in geekland. And it probably means we’ll all get that all-too-elusive great Fantastic Four film.
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
Press material was quick to tout that the Disney-Fox pact provides Marvel with the opportunity to reunite the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool with their comic-book counterparts, under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories. For many, it means that Wolverine could snikt his way through the next Avengers film, and the Silver Surfer could zoom by in the next Guardians of The Galaxy installment. But for me, it means one thing: We fans of the Fantastic Four, could very well have that most-elusive of movies, a great FF movie.
It’s no news that the first Fantastic Four movie in 2005 (I’m going to be a total snob and ignore Roger B. Corman’s unreleased B-movie version, heh-heh) tanked at the box office. While I had no problem with the cast (Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and a pre-Scandal Kerry Washington), many fans screamed blue murder at the line-up. It birthed a 20017 sequel, surprisingly, which also tanked, unsurprisingly. Even the Silver Surfer’s appearance could not save that hot mess. I mean, Galactus was an energy cloud there!
Anyways, fast-forward to 2015, and the Josh Trank-helmed reboot sputtered and died from early days at the box office. The cast, to be honest, didn’t help matters. Consisting of Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell, all excellent thespians, the casting was off, way off even. Then the story, an exercise in body horror and sibling rivalry, didn’t quite connect with fans of the FF’s comic-book family adventure shtick.
Fans, desperate for a good FF movie, even saw in Pixar’s The Incredibles, a tone which would have been pitch-perfect for Reed Richards and co. But now, with the Disney-Fox merger finalized, a collective sigh of relief could be heard across FF fandom: After all, Kevin Feige’s MCU has mostly done right by the Marvel properties translated to the big screen so far. And for me, the Fantastic Four is a family adventure superhero family movie, and whoever will develop it would do good to note that. Yes, toss in some laughs, but please don’t make it a comedy.
Fox has had access to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men for long, through licensing deals made before Disney’s 2009 acquisition of the comic-book company. With the deal for Fox, that leaves Sony as the only outside studio currently licensing major Marvel characters. Sony makes films around the Spider-Man universe, though Marvel has been able to insert the character into a Captain America installment, and upcoming releases. On the film front, Disney was also quick to point out the addition of Avatar, another major film franchise to its kitty. The deal also unifies the Star Wars universe, as Disney owns the rights to almost all of the Jedi films thanks to its 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm, but Fox, which produced the 1977 original picture, retained rights to the first chapter in the series.
Disney boss Bob Iger, in a call with investors and analysts shortly after the deal was unveiled, referenced the possibilities. “Bringing Disney and Fox together will combine some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises.” But for me, mostly, just give me a great Fantastic Four movie already. Thank you.