Well it is official. What seemed at one point impossible has now become possible. On November 6th, 2017 Disney shocked the world with its announcement that they were going to take steps towards acquiring 21st Century Fox and Fox assets. Many believed that this wasn’t going to end up happening, but now as of March 20th, 2019, and $71.3 billion dollars later, Disney now owns the rights to 21st Century Fox and its assets. What that entails is Disney now owns 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, including movie studios and their full movie catalog. Marvel Studios regains the rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, Fox Television Studios, FX Network, National Geographic Channel, as well as 30% more control in Hulu bringing them to 60%. They also get International TV assets including Star India T.V.
The thing that most people seem to be excited about is Disney now has the rights back to Marvel’s X-Men and Fantastic Four, meaning that any MCU movies from here on out set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe can now use any character the is in the X-Men catalog as well as the Fantastic Four. That is a pretty big deal because there are some HUGE characters in both of those franchises that can play major parts going forward in the MCU timeline. So let’s breakdown what this means moving forward for Disney and Marvel and what we can expect to see in the years to come.
Scarlett Johansson has made herself known as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow ever since she first stepped on the screen in Iron Man 2. The character and her seem to have been made for each other, as she has brought a lot to the character as well as contributions to the MCU timeline. Her presence in the MCU is almost to the point where she may not have super powers, but it feels like she has a hand in every movie. So with a character like that you would expect her to have her own movie right? Well it’s been 11 years since the beginning of the MCU and we still don’t have a Black Widow solo movie, but after patiently waiting, we know we are finally getting a Black Widow solo movie.
We don’t know much about it other than we can expect it after Avengers: Endgame as well as Spider-Man: Far From Home. We know that Scarlett Johansson will be reprising the role and most recently actress Florence Pugh has been cast to play opposite Johansson in a mysterious role that is said to resemble Black Widow. While this movie doesn’t have any direct correlation to the Disney-Fox merger, who knows if it could or could not.
One of the most exciting news about the Fox/Disney merger is definitely the fact that the X-Men have made their way back to Marvel/Disney. The X-Men catalog is a huge part of the Marvel Comics with a bunch of famous characters and storylines that are certain to get fans excited about their return. Although Disney now has the rights to the X-Men, there are still some projects that were either in development or ready to be released soon that Fox had.
So we know that Fox had two scheduled X-Men movies on the slate and either finished or in-production at the time of the buyout. Those movies were Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants. The Dark Phoenix movie had already been in development and production at the time that this was going on leaving uncertainty about whether or not the movie would be made in time before the buyout. We obviously now know that it will be released, due to the fact that the trailers have been released as well as the release date for the movie being June 7th. The movie will star its previous cast that has been going since X-Men: First Class, and will close out that franchise and timeline for the X-Men characters. Disney and Marvel has already stated that they will be creating a whole new cast for future X-Men movies as well as the fact that we wont be seeing any X-Men characters before 2021. So this being said, this will be the last time we see these actors and their portrayals of their characters.
When it comes to The New Mutants movie, the situation for that film is kind of up in the air at the moment. The movie was originally supposed to be released on April 13th, 2018, and a trailer for that cut of the movie was even released which had fans absolutely ecstatic as the film looked really good and an awesome take on the X-Men characters in what seemed like a horror movie. Unfortunately, the movie was delayed after it seemed the excitement about it being a horror movie left Fox uncertain if there was enough of an actual horror aspect to the movie. Its release date was then pushed to February 22nd, 2019, but again the movie was pushed back, with now a current release date of August 2nd, 2019.
It finally seemed like we would officially be getting this movie but the trouble for the film didn’t stop there. Unfortunately it seems like the film may have really hit a snag this time as the Disney/Fox buy out may change the whole production of the movie. Right now the film is in a sort of purgatory as nobody really seems to know what is going to happen to the project. The rumors have been going that Disney may choose to release the movie on a streaming service instead of a release in theaters. Disney now owns 60% of Hulu leaving that as an option, or they could choose to release the movie on their future Disney+ streaming service as well. The other more dramatic option is that they scrap the movie entirely and not release it, which would be a shame due to how good it actually looked.
One of the movies that Marvel has announced in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is The Eternals. By now you might have heard of The Eternals because of the movie announcement, but before that they were a pretty obscure and not quite that big comic book series created by Marvel Comics. The series was created in 1976 and are described as a “offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth. The original instigators of this process, the alien Celestials, intended the Eternals to be the defenders of Earth, which leads to the inevitability of war against their destructive counterparts, the Deviants.” Also, in the comics the Celestials experimented on the Kree and Skrull race, which could lead to more involvement from those races in the MCU.
Again they are not the most known Marvel characters, but in the description there is one thing that could connect the MCU to The Eternals: the Celestials. We met the Celestials in the MCU first in Guardians of the Galaxy. The collector explained that they are an ancient race of entities that possess vast matter and energy manipulation abilities. They were present long before the dawn of the galactic communities and even the Asgardians. They were notorious for their utilization of the Infinity Stones, which of course is what the MCU has centered around currently.
We don’t really know much about the movie at this point, but using the Celestials as a connection into the MCU might be the best bet at this point. We have already seen them in the MCU as the floating head of Knowhere, Ego played by Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and in various flashbacks. The most interesting thing is that Thanos is actually the son of an Eternal named A’lars, who was name dropped in Avengers: Infinity War by the Red Skull on Vormer. In the comics he carries the Deviant gene, which is the reason he doesn’t appear human looking like his race. This also could mean that the planet Thanos is from, Titan, is the home world of the Eternals. What is interesting is that The Eternals don’t necessarily need to fit into a specific spot in the MCU, as they could span over millions of years, so any guess about when it could take place is up in the air.
One of the coolest things The Eternals is going to bring to the MCU is a very diversified cast. Ever since the massive success of Black Panther, which featured almost an entirely black cast, Kevin Feige has made it clear that the MCU is going to be a very diverse franchise moving forward. One of those examples is that Marvel is looking for its first openly gay actor to lead The Eternals movie. Many fans have already started suggesting who they want to see casted with Luke Evans leading fan petitions. Other actors include Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, and Sophia Boutella. All fantastic casting that would be perfect for the MCU.
Fantastic Four: With the merger of Fox to Disney, another major property has reverted back into the Marvel family, that being the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four of course is the popular Marvel franchise that has brought the characters of Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and The Thing. The franchise has made several attempts on the big screen starting in 2005, with a sequel in 2007. Most recently the franchise tried to start again in 2015 and failed miserably, producing one of the worst comic book movies in recent memory. Nothing has been announced, but Fantastic Four has one of the best catalogs of villains in all of comics including: Doctor Doom, Super Skrull, Galactus and Annihulus. Other major characters involved with the Fantastic Four include Silver Surfer and Namor the Submariner.
Deadpool: One of the biggest questions that comic book movie fans were worried about with the Fox/Disney merger was that if Disney planned on rebooting everything, does that mean that the extremely popular Deadpool movie franchise would be rebooted completely with even a new actor? Well to the many cheers and joy of comic book movie fans, it was announced that Ryan Reynolds Deadpool would be the ONLY movie and actor/character that is going to survive the merger. Whether or not he shows up in the MCU and what they have planned for him is unknown, but Disney doesn’t see the need to fix what isn’t broken when it comes to Deadpool.
Shang-Chi: Continuing with the theme that Marvel is going to start making more diverse movies, Shang-Chi was announced by Marvel to be in future development. The movie is reportedly on the fast track for development with Marvel, and more news is sure to be released at some point. Interestingly with this character, Shang-Chi does not have any type of super powers, and instead is a Master of Kung Fu, meaning we could get a type of classic Kung-Fu movie that we haven’t really seen in Hollywood for a long time, but with a Marvel twist.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: At one point this movie seemed to be on a crash course with the firing of James Gunn, the man behind the film franchise. The film left many people divided as Disney fired Gunn for inappropriate tweets from years ago, especially Dave Bautista who stood up for Gunn. After Gunn’s firing, Warner Bros. made a swift move to hire Gunn for the reboot of Suicide Squad, leaving many fans thinking Gunn returning to Guardians was all but lost. Fortunately Disney seemed to come to their senses as they rehired Gunn who will direct the third movie but also stay on for The Suicide Squad reboot. Right now the expected release date is 2021.
The Fox/Disney merger was one of the most historic buyouts to ever take place in media and it shows the power and money Disney is willing to spend on their quest to dominate the world. Many fans thought that we would never see the likes of the X-Men or Fantastic Four anywhere near the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it goes to show you that nothing is impossible for Disney. No one thought Spider-Man was going to find his way into the MCU and some how Disney pulled that off with Sony. The MCU has a very exciting future ahead of itself and with the addition of all these characters, fans everywhere can be excited about what the future holds for comic book movies moving forward.