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Rumor: Is Marvel Canceling FANTASTIC FOUR to Snub Fox?

Classify this one as rumor with a capital “R”, but Bleeding Cool has reported that Marvel might actually be canceling the title that started it all for them back in 1961* — The Fantastic Four. The reasons for this apparently have less to do with the comics themselves, and a lot more to do with the movie business. Twentieth Century Fox has the movie rights to both the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, and it has them in perpetuity (that means forever, basically, as long as they keep churning out movies based on these characters. If they don’t, then Marvel Studios gets the characters back, which is what happened recently with Daredevil.)

According to Bleeding Cool, a source within Marvel says that the company is intending to put the Fantastic Four comic books “on hold,” both the 616 regular Marvel Universe version and the Ultimate version of the team. The characters will still appear, only guest starring in other character’s titles. Their sources even said that artwork featuring the Fantastic Four is even being taken down in the company offices. The supposed rationale behind all this is that by Marvel promoting these properties in comics, it only benefits Fox’s movies at the expense of those from Marvel Studios.

So why would canceling Fantastic Four be a big deal?  After all, Marvel cancels titles all the time, and Fantastic Four is a mid-range seller at best. Here’s why: Fantastic Four is the original Marvel title, the book the entire Marvel Universe is founded on. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run on the title changed the way American comic books were done forever. It launched characters and concepts like the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther and Inhumans, to name but a few. It’s one of the founding Silver Age books that has basically never been canceled (or at least not canceled for long.) The others of course being Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, Captain America and The X-Men, although the X-Men were just a reprint book for many years. These books ARE Marvel, and to remove them just to make Fox less money seems petty.

Another reason I think this is baloney? Marvel doesn’t want to lose money, and they would with this move. While Marvel Studios doesn’t control the Fantastic Four or X-Men properties, part of the original deal was that Marvel would get 5% of the grosses from Fox’ Marvel based films. True, 5% isn’t much, but it’s something, so why sabotage Fox? This means that 5% of the grosses for X-Men: Days of Future Past goes to Disney, and 5% of whatever the Fantastic Four reboot brings in. They don’t lift a finger and they still make a profit off those movies, however small. Why ruin that? Expect to hear a confirmation or denial in regards to this one soon.

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*Although Marvel is technically celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year, the company  was originally called Timely (later Atlas) before becoming Marvel with Fantastic Four #1, which is what really launched the Marvel brand and universe. They eventually incorporated Timely characters like Captain America and Namor into the Marvel Universe, but Marvel as we know it was born in 1961.

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27 comments

    • On one hand I am, but on another it scares me a bit.  If Disney/Marvel manages to leverage the rights back to the FF, X-men, and Spider-man I fear that a lot of the lesser known characters (to a general fan) will not get movies anymore.  I doubt Disney will fund 4 or 5 comic book movies a year for fear of saturating the market.  So instead of things like Ant-man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rumored Dr. Strange or Ms. Marvel projects we’ll only see one of those every 3 or 4 years.

  • It may be a maneuver to force FOX to sell it back to Marvel. Like you said, it’s the starting point of the entire Marvel universe. From a comics standpoint, Marvel may be tired of having three separate lines of tie-in continuity and wants to consolidate. 
    Taking FF out of the mix for a while may cool FOX on the whole enterprise, and let Marvel bring FF back into the fold and integrate. Guardians of the Galaxy in a weird way feels like Marvel figuring out how they can do FF without the line, but I’m sure they’d much rather have the original comic in the MCU. 

  • How long do the rights have to be dormant (10 years?) before they revert back to Marvel?  they have claimed to have their slate of movies set until 2020-something. (or was it 2030-something?) 5% for, presumably 3 movies (over a 10 year span…again, I don’t know the length of time it would take for the rights to revert back to Marvel), each avg. $500mil, would give Marvel $250mil over 10 years. if they got the rights back, they could make that on 1 movie… just years down the road– which, might be a good thing, since it’s a fairly recognized property, and by then, no one will want to see Captain America 6.

  • there’s a really simple way to get Fox to stop making these movies. STOP GOING TO SEE THEM!!!!!!! make sure it bombs at the box office and they won’t make more. worked for Daredevil. of course that one was easy,it sucked.

  • This has already been denied by Marvel’s Senior VP of Publishing, Tom Brevoort. He stated on his tumblr, brevoortformspring.tumblr.com, that Bleeding Cool has got this one wrong.

    • The deal for X-Men is much worse than the one for FF. Basically, Marvel is NEVER getting the rights back for X-Men. They did a really bad deal when they were in dire straits.

  • i don’t know if people realize it, but the storyline so far for most fox made superhero movies are shitty and really written by ppl who probably never read the source material.  

    sure there’s money involve, but I believe disney (who currently owns marvel) and marvel both want x – men and fantastic four back to be release under their name because a) disney knows a cash cow when it sees one and b) people do want their creative property back under their control and rather have a partner that sticks by the choices as well.

    and for those disney haters out there, look at avengers, look at thor, look at guardian of the galaxy trailers.  they are doing a better job than fox.

  • i wouldn’t be worried about it…everyone knows the FF reboot is going to suck…(black Human Torch, wtf)…Fox will end up selling the rights back to Disney and keeping X-Men…i mean, what are they going to do at that point? do ANOTHER reboot of the reboot?

  • If Marvel wanted a title back, it would be X-Men not FF. If they were going to tank the team in both universes, they wouldn’t have just launched the team in Ultimate or re-booted the 616 title.

  • That was their own dumb fault for making a deal of that nature. I can understand a 5 picture deal but forever?? What did they expect to happen? FF movies sucked in the worst way I hope they can reach some type of agreement I have no faith in Fox.

    • These deals were done at a time when Marvel was in a very bad position financially. No one involved, no one in the industry, thought that Avengers or what is being done would ever be possible.