Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rumor Has It... X-Men TV Series

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Rumor has it that FOX is actively developing its own TV answer to Arrow, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the rest of the comic book TV series.  According to the rumor, this is a “long-running” series which may be based on the X-Factor, a team of mutants who run a special investigations office.  However, there is one slight problem with their plan:  They don’t actually own the live-action rights to their characters.  No, those rights rest with Marvel Studios.

So what does that mean for FOX’s plans?  Simply put, it means that they need to make nice with Marvel.

Yeah, good luck with that, guys…

But in the spirit of optimism, let’s talk about our ideal results for the ongoing negotiations between Marvel and FOX.  The goal here is to come up with a scenario which would be mutually beneficial, meaning that both studios gain something they can use.  We’re not talking about FOX kneeling, kissing Kevin Feige’s ring, apologizing for destroying the Fantastic Four (again), and begging him to accept their humble offering of all the Marvel rights FOX currently owns!

So without further ado, here are two possible proposals for what I think would be a fair deal between Marvel and FOX.

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Option #1:  The Simplest Deal

This may be the easiest deal for Marvel and FOX to swing.  Neither side gets everything they want, but both sides gain pieces that they can use moving forward.

FOX Gets:

FOX Studios would receive sole small-screen rights to a couple dozen mutants, just the ones that they want for their X-Factor Investigations (my title) TV series.

Members of the team/villains:

  • Butterfly
  • Damian Tryp
  • Darwin
  • Fixx
  • Forge
  • Greystone
  • Havok
  • Longshot
  • M
  • Multiple Man
  • Mystique
  • Pip the Troll
  • Polaris
  • Quicksilver
  • Random
  • Rictor
  • Sabretooth
  • Shard
  • Shatterstar
  • Siryn/Banshee
  • Strong Guy
  • Wild Child
  • Wolfsbane

In addition, FOX would also receive the TV rights to a few of their biggest characters if they want to further cross-pollinate their TV and movie franchises:

  • Cyclops
  • Deadpool
  • Jean Gray
  • Magneto
  • Professor Xavier
  • Storm
  • Wolverine

Note:  These are just 30 examples; they might decide they want different characters.

Oh, and FOX would also get shared rights to the term “mutant” on the small-screen.

Marvel Studios Gets:

Marvel doesn’t get quite as much from FOX as FOX seems to be getting, but when I lay out what Marvel gets, I think you will agree that they’re getting some good pieces out of it!

Sole big-screen rights to the following characters for whom they have plans and FOX probably does not:

  • The Marvel Cosmic mutants which James Gunn wanted to use in Guardians of the Galaxy
  • A select few minor mutants that Marvel wants to use in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (for crossovers)

Shared big-screen rights to the following characters with close ties to both studios’ teams and characters:

  • Storm (I mean “Mrs. The Black Panther”)
  • Wolverine (after all, he’s got a long history with the Avengers)

Why these characters?  These characters would fit well within the MCU and help to expand their existing stories—they could be used pretty much immediately in one movie/TV series or another.

This is the minimum deal which could let FOX get started with their TV series and give Marvel some fair compensation.  However, 30 mutants probably wouldn’t hold FOX over too long on TV, meaning that before long they would be returning to the bargaining table with Marvel to gain rights to a few more mutants.  Now let’s look at an alternative deal which would give FOX substantially more mutants to play with on their TV series.

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Option #2:  The Complex Deal

This would probably be the most challenging deal for the studios to work out, but it would definitely benefit both studios.

FOX Gets:

FOX essentially receives sole live-action TV rights to all the mutants, with Marvel retaining shared TV rights to a few mutants for use on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their other TV shows.

Additionally, FOX receives rights to use “mutant” on TV.

Marvel Studios Gets:

Marvel would receive sole rights to all of the cosmic characters, races, and the like which are part of either the X-Men property or the Fantastic Four property.  This may or may not include Galactus and the Silver Surfer.

In addition, Marvel also receives sole rights to several specific minor mutants with close ties to the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. (such as Abigail Brand for use in S.W.O.R.D.) and which they will work into future movies/TV series.

Finally, Marvel receives shared rights to certain popular mutants with close connections to the Avengers and other Marvel-owned properties.  This would include Wolverine and Storm, of course.

Oh, and Marvel would also receive the right to use “mutant” both on the small screen and on the big screen.

That’s a lot of stuff that Marvel is receiving from this deal… but FOX is not really giving up anything that fits with the direction their movies seem to be going.  And on the other side Marvel is putting a lot of effort into their cosmic properties with Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Avengers: Infinity War all looking cosmic.  Simply put, Marvel can get a lot more use out of these cosmic characters than FOX ever will.  Additionally, allowing Marvel to use a couple of popular mutants will not hurt FOX’s brand any more than having 2 different Quicksilvers did.  In fact, that may actually help both studios by keeping the characters in the public consciousness on a more regular basis.  The same holds true for FOX allowing Marvel Studios to use “mutants” in their movies and TV series.

So why would FOX be willing to make this deal?  I think that FOX has been looking at Warner Bros. and Disney for the last few years, seen how their respective comic book-based TV series have taken off, and decided that they really want to get in on that.  And the X-Men really lend themselves well to a TV show format.  However, if they really want their series to take off and spawn spinoffs to compete with the big boys, they will need a lot of characters—and not just the minor one-off characters but the major players like Cyclops and Professor X.  And in order to get the kind of firepower they need to create a good series, they will need to be willing to give up some things that Marvel Studios wants to use.

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Bonus—Option #3:  The Pipe Dream

Okay, so I guess I sort-of lied.  Originally I was only going to give the two previous options, but after seeing reviews for Fant4stic I decided to add another one.  I don’t know if this is really an option, but after the Sony deal anything’s possible.

FOX Gets:

FOX receives the same things included in Option #2:

FOX essentially receives sole live-action TV rights to all the mutants, with Marvel retaining shared rights to a few mutants for use on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and their other TV shows.

Additionally, FOX receives rights to use “mutant” on TV.

Marvel Studios Gets:

Marvel receives back the entire Fantastic Four IP in its entirety—which really isn’t worth all that much after this weekend, in all honesty.  At this point in time I think the Fantastic Four brand has been damaged so seriously by FOX’s four big-screen attempts (especially this last one—I actually liked elements of the 2005 movie) that FOX really can’t expect to get that much in exchange for returning it to Marvel.

Consequently, I think Marvel should also receive sole movie rights to select minor mutants (as outlined under Option #2 above) and shared film rights to Storm and Wolverine (for the reasons outlined previously), as well as the right to use “mutant” in the movies.

Essentially, this is the same as Option #2, but with the earth-based elements of the Fantastic Four property replacing the cosmic elements of the X-Men property.  I think that if Marvel gets the rights to use “mutant,” they can create new mutants to use on the big screen.

Note:  Another option may be for FOX to throw a few more things into the deal (some of the X-Men cosmic elements) in exchange for Marvel forming a similar arrangement with them with respect to the Fantastic Four as they have with Sony with respect to Spider-Man.  In other words, FOX would produce Fantastic Four movies in conjunction with Marvel and as part of the MCU (instead of their own X-Men universe or another "parallel universe").  That would be good inasmuch as it allows Marvel to focus on producing their movies while FOX produces a new FF movie.


These are just my three ideas for how Marvel and FOX can come to a mutually beneficial deal, allowing both studios to move forward with their respective plans both on the big screen and the small screen.  I think that my favorite option here is #3, simply because it gives us a chance of seeing a good Fantastic Four movie sometime in the next decade.  However, I think that the most likely is #1 or #2 because FOX really wants to hold onto the Fantastic Four for some unknown reason (I mean, seriously, if they can’t manage to do it right, what’s the point of keeping it?).

Which of these deals do you like best?  What would be your perfect deal between FOX and Marvel?  Let me know in the comments!

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