X-Men Spiderman Movie Universe

A couple of weeks ago, we heard that The Walt Disney Company had conversations with 21st Century Fox about possibly buying some of their major assets, including the 20th Century Fox film studio and some Fox-owned TV networks like FX. Those talks ended up not going resulting in any deals, but now a new report says that Comcast and Sony have also had separate conversations about potentially acquiring 21st Century Fox’s assets, which would be depressing for a number of reasons.

But hey, while Hollywood as we know it enters into a possibly unrecoverable downward spiral, at least we might get to see some unexpected comic book movie crossovers! X-Men and Spider-Man in the same movie, anyone?

Following the talks about Disney’s potential acquisition, The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast Corp. (the parent company of Universal Pictures) and Verizon Communications have approached Fox about doing the same thing. Plus, Sony’s entertainment arm has “informally” approached Fox with the same goal in mind.

First things first: if 20th Century Fox is acquired by a rival studio, that’s bad news. It would be one less place creators could pitch their film ideas, and one more way for already-powerful companies to hold sway over an industry that, as you may have noticed, isn’t exactly thriving in 2017. And that’s before you consider the amount of history that would just be going down the drain – Fox has been a part of the film industry for the better part of a century now.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about some of the comic-book movie results that could come from these potential deals. Universal currently doesn’t have any major comic book movie properties under their umbrella, so aside from the possibility of Bruce Willis’ superhero character from Unbreakable and Glass meeting up with the X-Men (which, to be clear, wouldn’t make any sense in the Unbreakable/Split/Glass universe and would also be dumb), there’s not much on the table there.

Sony, on the other hand, has more intriguing options that comic fans might care about. Since they own the rights to Spider-Man and the bevy of characters associated with him, acquiring Fox would mean that we could theoretically see another co-production with Marvel Studios that could include Spider-Man, The Avengers, and the X-Men in the same movie. If Marvel Studios isn’t interested in playing ball, Sony is still on the verge of launching their SMU, the Sony Marvel Universe, which consists of films like Venom and Silver and Black. So if Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is hampered by contracts, the X-Men could meet up with Tom Hardy’s Venom instead.

Speaking of contracts, there’s an aspect to this situation that I hadn’t considered until today. We received the following e-mail from a reader:

When Marvel Studios sold the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man to Fox and Sony, it placed an amendment in the contract stipulating that these characters are not transferable to another buyer and that it be return to the original seller, Marvel Studios.

Since those contracts are not public, we have no way of knowing if that’s true or verifying if any language exists that may prevent the sale or transfer of the rights to different studios. But I would not be surprised if a clause like that was actually in the fine print; if that’s the case and Fox sold to Sony, they would essentially be forfeiting their stable of characters back to Marvel Studios, which would mean that the Avengers and the X-Men could share the screen all under the Marvel Studios banner.

Again, that’s all total speculation, and I can’t stress enough that any acquisition of Fox by a rival would be detrimental to the industry as a whole. But the fact that this wasn’t just a one-time flirtation with Disney and that 21st Century Fox has been engaging in discussions with multiple other companies signals that they’re serious about unloading one of their most historical and revered assets and the decades of film history that go with it. No matter how cool it might seem, an X-Men SpiderMan movie universe would not be worth that loss.

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