fantastic four movie rights

Update: As we expected, it’s starting to look like this rumor was just that – a rumor. Find additional details after the jump.

It’s the kind of story that, for many superhero movie fans, sounds too good to be true. According to a new rumor making the rounds, Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox have reached a deal that will see the Fantastic Four characters return home to Marvel, with the company’s “First Family” leaping into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a film in 2020. So if this is true, find a comfortable place to sit down. It’s going to be a while. Then again, that much time is necessary to wash away the confusion and disappointment that accompanied this year’s Fox-produced reboot.

Ponder the new Fantastic Four movie rights rumor after the jump.

The news comes from Den of Geek, who cite an anonymous source and admit that they were unable to verify this rumor with anyone else. In other words, they are asking you to take all of this with a pinch of salt. As a third party relaying the news, we’ll ask you to grab a fistful of salt. Fox has held onto the Fantastic Four movie rights with a death-grip for all these years. The studio giving them up now, in a scenario that feels custom-built to please the internet, seems awfully convenient.

However, there are a few shards of actual evidence floating in the ether to back this up. It was recently revealed that, after years of testing the waters, Fox is finally diving into the world of X-Men TV shows with new series based on the Hellfire Club and Legion. However, due to the ever-tangled mess of legal red tape that is superhero licensing rights, these shows required the permission of Marvel Studios, who still had ownership of the TV rights for the X-Men characters. If we are to believe this new rumor, Marvel gave Fox what they wanted and named their price: the Fantastic Four movie rights.

If this is all true, you can see the logic at work. Fox has had tremendous success with the X-Men movies and, well, less success with the Fantastic Four. It makes sense that they would want to double down on what works. Giving up the rights to a property that was the source of genuine, cringe-worthy embarrassment for them this summer doesn’t sound too crazy right now.

Then again, we’re talking about a studio that was so desperate to hold onto those rights that it pushed that disastrous film into production solely to beat the deadline that would force the rights to revert to Marvel. This is, in so many ways, a pride thing. Fox and Marvel Studios have never gotten along particularly well and Fox’s cold, dead grip on the Fantastic Four felt like a message. Then again, the thought of two potentially lucrative TV shows that could tie into those well-liked X-Men movies may be enough to loosen it.

Although we’re not buying this rumor quite yet, it is worth considering, especially since Marvel and Sony managed to reach a deal that will see Spider-Man enter the MCU. Plus, Marvel’s new schedule does have a handful of untitled films hanging out in the early ’20s. The Fantastic Four may get to chill out alongside the Avengers after all. Better late than never. Maybe they’ll finally get Doctor Doom right.

Update: io9 is reporting, via their own sources, that this story isn’t true. If Marvel is getting the Fantastic Four back, it’s not happening today. For all we know, there is a plan in place and Marvel Studios does want these characters in one of their 2020 release dates, but no actual deal has been made and everything is staying as it is for now.

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