“Give the rights back to Marvel!”

Not in defense of that shitty phrase, unfortunately.

Fantastic Four hit movie theatres last week. The latest Fox superhero movie was panned by critics and the film is already considered one of the worst superhero movies of all time. Which brings again that phrase that many fanboys shout to the sky everytime a movie with Marvel characters not owned by Marvel Studios bombs: “Give the rights back to Marvel!”

Unfortunately, for those fanboys, this article is not written in defense of that overly used phrase that is flooding social media. I’m here to give the unpopular opinion.

Fox can’t “give” the rights back to Marvel Studios. Just imagine that for a second. Fox knocks Marvel Studios’ door and says “Sorry guys, this was our third strike. It’s better if you own the Fantastic Four. There you go. Bye.” We are talking about an IP. Fox can’t give the rights back to Marvel, they have to sell the rights to Marvel… and that’s not cheap at all.

It’s fun to see how this blew up in the last few days after Fantastic Four opened in theatres. Instagram was flooded with pictures of the movie poster with captions that always included “give the rights back to Marvel.” I thought that the subject will end up there, and would stay as nothing more than an opinion and not an actual request. I was clearly wrong. There was a Change.org petition asking Fox to sell the rights back to Marvel Studios. The petition says:

Josh Tank’s Fantastic Four was a major disappointment. Critics and fans of the film panned the movie and performed poorly at the box office. Please sign this petition so we can have a great adaptation of Marvel’s first family once and for all. Sign this petition also because WE DON’T WANT ANOTHER SEQUEL!!!!! Let the fans have what they want and MAKE FOX SELL THE RIGHTS BACK TO MARVEL!!!!

Fans can’t always have what they want, that’s just crude reality. I want to see Magneto sharing a scene with Scarlet Witch in an Avengers sequel, but that’s not possible right now, and I don’t compain. Fans do actually get what they want. Captain America: Civil War footage will be dropped at D23. It’s almost hard to believe that a loose adaptation of Civil War is happening. I understand that we are talking about the Fantastic Four, but getting a movie with this characters is already too much. The problem is that the studio handling the property haven’t found a proper screenwriter and director – I like Josh Trank a lot, though – to bring life to these characters on the big screen.

Also, studios are not chess pieces. I don’t know if the person who started the petition dimensions the size of these big studios. At this moment I don’t know if that person knows that this is real life and not a nerd’s wet dream. You can’t make a studio sell the rights of some property to another studio.

Okay, let’s pretend Fox saw the petition signed by almost 29,000 people and they decide to sell the rights of the Fantastic Four to Marvel Studios. Then what? Marvel Studios takes a checkbook and pays for whatever quantity of money Fox is asking? No.

Listen, if there’s something I learned with the years is that Marvel Studios doesn’t know what “impossible” means. They’re not only moving on with Captain America: Civil War, they were able to add Spider-Man to their cinematic universe. The difference between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four is that they felt the need of having Spider-Man in their films, so they made a deal with Sony.

I’m sure Kevin Feige sometimes thinks about X-Men or Fantastic Four, but it’s more useful to focus on Phase Three. I know it would be great to have The Thing meeting the Inhumans or Reed Richards being the third science bro, but we have to be realistic over here.

There’s three things that Fox can do:

  • Make a sequel: Follow up the movie, fix the problems. Make a better movie and rescue the franchise.
  • Soft reboot the Fantastic Four: There’s no need to make another origin story or a standalone movie with a different cast. It’s enough to have one of the characters show up in an X-Men movie. Hank McCoy contacts Reed Richards and Sue Storm. New actors show up playing those characters and now you have a different cast portraying the Fantastic Four.
  • Let the rights die: Stop making movies and just do the same thing you did with Daredevil. You can let the rights slowly die and revert back to Marvel. If this happens maybe we could see the Fantastic Four again sometime after Phase Four.

I believe that at some point Fox knew they screw up and thought on making an offer to Marvel Studios. The problem is Marvel doesn’t need the Fantastic Four right now and I doubt they will just spend millions in this IP. But who knows? Marvel Studios showed us that there’s no impossibles.


5 thoughts on ““Give the rights back to Marvel!””

  1. Remember when it was revealed that Sony and Marvel actually did talk about including Spider-man in the MCU and the deal fell through? Remember how the fans reacted to that news? And remember what happened then?

    No, Fox can’t simply give back the rights (well, they could, but it would be really bad business sense). But knowing how set the actual fanbase is against them making more F4 movie, no matter what kind, might give them the push to talk to Marvel and come up with a solution which allows Fox to safe face and Marvel to get back something they really want (no matter how much they pretend that they don’t).

    Fans vote with their money. They set a sign by letting F4 bomb, not just critically but also financially. They are now telling the studio firmly “no” to more adaptation. Which puts Fox between a rock and a hard place, because the only thing they can do to keep the rights is making more movie, and movies are always a monetary risk.

    1. Yes, the deal fell through but the deal wasn’t made because of how fans reacted. The deal was closed in November and announced in February.

      Fans vote with their money, that’s why get more Transformers movies, but Fox is a different beast. Sony’s big franchise was Spider-Man. Fox has the X-Men and they don’t want to sell that. Some days ago it was revealed that Fox want to make a live action TV show, but Marvel is not giving green light to that yet. There’s heat between these two.

      Also, Marvel is one of the cheapest studios out there. They take care of their money. That’s why they started making contracts for eight movies for their actors instead of three or some low number like that, so they won’t pay Robert Downey Jr. numbers to all the actors. If these happens with the actors, imagine what happens with an IP.

      They can try pull some kind of Sony type deal, but I really doubt that will happen. Almost at the end of the article I wrote what Fox can do and one of the things is letting the rights die and revert to Marvel. That’s what I think is going to happen, just like it happened with Daredevil, Blade and The Punisher.

      Hey, I – just like everyone else – want the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think we are eight years away from that.

      1. Exactly because Fox wants to make a TV show I see a light in the future for the F4. Because Marvel will never allow that unless they get something substantial in exchange. And yet Fox keeps talking about the show. Which tells me that there is something afoot. And there is only one thing that Fox has and Marvel wants. And if Marvel can get it now in exchange for limited TV rights (I don’t think that they will ever get any right away without a clear cut-off point again), I think they will take it and not risk that Fox delays the rights reverting back again. And Fox has an interest not to wait eight years until they are with their back to the wall.

      2. I see your point. For some reason, I just don’t think that Fantastic Four in Marvel will happen soon. I mean, I hope so. But I don’t think so.I just don’t believe Fox will let Marvel have the rights for Fantastic Four while they have the X-Men.

        However, I see your point. “We don’t really know what to do with the Fantastic Four, but we know what to do with the X-Men. Let us do the TV show and do what you want with the Fantastic Four.”

        But returning to the point of the article, fans don’t always get what they want. Studios like Marvel have a handle of what people want. Some of the Marvel people visit outlets and read comments, but if fans in the comment sections claim that Dylan O’Brien should be Peter Parker, they won’t listen because that’s not the entire audience. The people asking for the Fantastic Four to return to Marvel is not the entire audience (I know A LOT of people who think X-Men, MCU, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four are movies made by Marvel Studios).

        The Fantastic Four issue is something that these two companies should solve, not the fans.

        I can see Fox letting the rights die or soft rebooting the franchise in X-Men. And now that you said that about the TV show, I wouldn’t be surprised if they come to an agreement. That’s a good argument.

      3. Naturally fans don’t always get what they want (especially not when it comes to casting). But there is no harm in expressing their wishes. And there is a big difference between fans jumping on wanting or not wanting a certain actor (because fans are usually not experienced casting directors) and fans saying “we don’t trust you to create a good F4 movie”. With a casting you only have to show some clips of a good performance to bring them around. But trust in a brand is something which has to be built carefully.
        And the fact that so many people can’t discern between Marvel movies and Fox or Sony movies is yet another reason why Marvel has an interest in getting the F4 back as fast as possible. Fox is damaging their brand, especially since they advertised for F4 with a heavy emphasis on the Marvel logo.

        I mean, the question is always what makes sense. The Marvel/Sony deal made sense (I actually predicted that it would eventually happen before the Sony hack, though I expected Sony to take at least a shot at TAS3), and now a deal with the F4 makes sense. However it will look like. One thing for sure, in Fox’s place I wouldn’t wait six years, I would deal with this issue now.

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