Christmas has come early for the comic book and superhero movie fans around the world, as Walt Disney has officially closed a $52 million merger with 20th Century Fox. With this deal comes all of Fox’s film properties including its Marvel brands like the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Deadpool. Other properties Disney will now envelop include the Die Hard franchise, both the Alien and the Predator franchises, the upcoming Avatar films, and the Simpsons. With Disney owning Marvel, this is a huge deal, with so many more opportunities opening to include the wealth of X-Men characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will be seeing some huge shifts following its next “Avengers” film. It also opens up the possibility to bring the Fantastic Four back to an acceptable state as Fox has been unable to do so on three different occasions. One of the biggest worries from fans in this merger is whether films like “Deadpool,” which just started to hit their stride in the R-rated world, will now be watered down to be more family friendly like the rest of their product, but Disney CEO Bob Iger has already stated that this can all stay the same as long as fans now what to expect and are duly informed. What this means for the upcoming slate of X-Men films, including “New Mutants” and “Dark Phoenix” are anyone’s guess at this moment. I also wonder what will become of things like Simpsons-Land at Universal Studios, as Disney may want that to be apart of their parks instead, now that they own that property. Will James Cameron be fully on board for producing his “Avatar” sequels for Disney? What will Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool have to say about all of this? Some are even speculating whether or not “Avengers: Infinity War” will be altered to include any of the possible new recruits. Others are stating that we likely won’t see this inclusion until after the current Marvel slate. We’ve seen them change up their line-up for a new acquisition before, when they borrowed the rights to Spider-Man and added “Spider-Man: Homecoming” to their line-up on somewhat short notice and now he’s a full-fledged member of their team. One also has to wonder if perhaps Disney will use one of the other intellectual properties like “Die Hard” or “Alien” to entice Sony to give up the rights to Spider-Man an his universe completely. All I do know is that the MCU is about to get a whole lot bigger and even more unpredictable. Whether the same actors and actresses that played the X-Men characters will continue to do so in the MCU is also unknown. But if Hugh Jackman was officially retiring his Wolverine anyway, what a perfect time to recast.
With the merger, Disney now has a majority share in the streaming service Hulu, which it shares with Comcast’s NBC / Universal and TimeWarner. Major changes to that service could also be on the horizon. Also, reported by Dark Horizons and Walt Disney Pictures, now falling under the Disney umbrella are the 20th Century Fox movie studio and the 20th Century Fox Television production company, along with media assets like Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000, FX Networks, FX Productions, National Geographic Partners, Fox21, Fox Regional Sports Networks, and Fox’s stake in Star India, Endemol Shine Group, and Sky. Some things that did not come with the merger due to anti-trust restrictions are Fox News, the FOX broadcast network, or Fox Sports, which all remain a part of the Fox empire – as will the Fox studio lot in Century City. Among the other properties announced, Disney will now also have the rights to the “Planet Of The Apes” films and the “Kingsman” films which both saw releases this past year. The also get back the rights to the original Star Wars: A New Hope, which was owned by Fox, which opens up possibilities in Disney’s “Star Wars” avenue as well including the ability to re-release the original cut of the film to which the fans have been begging.
Disney’s upcoming streaming service, which will tout original content as well as Disney’s back catalog of television and films, will also benefit with the addition of a ton of Fox content, which will likely include shows like “The Simpsons”and “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Dark Horizons also reports that it will likely take “12-18 months to gain the necessary approvals to fuse the companies” which means those upcoming films from Fox will likely not be influenced by Marvel nor will Marvel take on any of the newly acquired characters until after that time period. I personally cannot wait for Marvel to do the X-Men justice in a way they have never been done before. I believe this will launch the next phase of the MCU into directions we could never possibly have predicted. With many of the current actors looking to retire their roles in the MCU and with Marvel looking to bring new and interesting properties never before brought to the screen, I feel like the sheer number of properties they now own allows them to do almost anything they want. It is like being a child again and receiving a wealth of new action figures to play with. The possibilities will be endless.