To the dismay of comic fans the world over, Fantastic Four has had a tumultuous time finding a home on the big screen. Because of this, everyone seems to has an idea about how to remedy the problem. This week’s idea comes from The Hollywood Reporter. Their piece claims that allowing the Fantastic Four’s supporting characters to fold into the X-Men universe could restore faith in the franchise. This writer isn’t too sure about that.
The Argument For A Fantastic Four And X-Men Co-universe
The essay hinges on the idea that enthusiasm for the X-Men franchise is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a pretty solid argument. Heck, a brand new X-television series just got announced ahead of the premiere of Legion on FX. Fox seems to be putting a lot of their eggs in the X-basket. As such, they have to find a way of keeping the universe fresh. And, for now, the approach seems to be “make stand-alone films.” Deadpool was a gigantic success and the hype train for Logan is chugging along nicely.
However, in a post-MCU world, stand alone films have weaved into a larger narrative. This is where things can get tricky for Fox. The timeline(s) for the X-films are convoluted at best and nonsensical at worst. It would behoove Fox to bring in Fantastic Four villains like Doctor Doom and Galactus to give stand-alone X-Men films a grander scope. This allows the X-Men to have a threat besides Magneto and would give Deadpool some joke fodder by allowing him to take on the sillier baddies. That’s all well and good, but these exact reasons are why a shared X-Men/Fantastic Four universe would not work.
Too Big To Fail?
The X-Men universe is hitting critical mass. At the time of this writing, the franchise boasts ten films, two planned television shows, and innumerable sequels in the works. The addition of the Fantastic Four characters, even with the intention of spinning them off, would over stuff the world beyond capacity. Viewers have a hard time keeping the more cohesive threads of the MCU straight as well as who has the rights to all these characters. Plopping the Fantastic Four into the middle of the X-Men universe would confuse all but the most die-hard fans to no end. The MCU has certainly changed the way we make franchise films, but there needs to be an adjustment period. The Fantastic Four absolutely deserve a spot on the big screen. However, shoe-horning them into an already snowballing franchise is not the way to go.
The easy solution is to say “let the rights go back to Marvel!” And that is a fine solution, to be sure. But, Marvel would have to be careful to not jump the gun with this property, either. The MCU is ramping up to its largest event yet, The Avengers: Infinity War. The film’s directors have already said that between the two halves of the story, they plan on featuring 63 characters. If Marvel ended up with Fantastic Four, the temptation to throw them in the mix would be strong.
My advice would be to wait until the dust settles on Infinity War. Let the Avengers handle Thanos. Let the Defenders clean-up New York on a street level. Certain characters will leave the franchise and a new universe will be built from the ashes of the old one. They could shift focus from Tony Stark to Reed Richards. Provide Doctor Doom the groundwork he needs to truly be terrifying, and wrap it all up with a multi-film Galactus arc. What better way to follow-up an epic war with one of Marvel’s most powerful villains, than with one that literally eats planets? Besides, a Galactus story would allow Marvel to handle Silver Surfer properly. And isn’t that what we all want?
What do you think? Should Fantastic Four have another shot on the big screen? Would they be better suited to an ultra-realistic Netflix series? Or should they be relegated to the pages of comic books? Let us know in the comments!