Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox’s film and TV studios in a landmark $52 billion deal. This means that the door is open for Disney to incorporate the Marvel properties previously controlled by Fox — including X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool — into its Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In its statement, Disney says the agreement will allow it to reunite these characters “with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.” Marvel is already planning to overhaul the MCU after the studio’s “Phase Three” arc. That will finish with a fourth and supposed final Avengers film in 2019, which will end the Infinity War story. “There will be two distinct periods. Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after,” Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has previously said.
The X-Men series, which started in 2000, spans nearly two decades’ worth of backstory. While Days of Future Past reset everything that happened in X3: The Last Stand, Marvel will still have to figure out how to integrate the already-convoluted plotlines, or totally overhaul the series for continuity’s sake. There’s also a bunch of TV show canon to contend with, like Legion and The Gifted. With the upcoming Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants movies around the corner in 2018, Disney might stay put with the X-Men characters for now.
Fantastic Four, meanwhile, has a bad rap, and the deal gives Disney a chance to restart their story with a clean slate. The 2005 Fantastic Four film and its sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, both starred Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Chris Evans, and were received with average reviews at best. Josh Trank’s 2015 reboot was widely panned by critics and fans. Given those films’ lackluster showing, the Fantastic Four characters may be Disney’s most buzzworthy MCU acquisition. Chris Evans (who has played both the Human Torch from Fantastic Four and Captain America) previously tweeted:
As for Disney’s sprawling theme parks, the company is already working on adding Marvel properties, and the acquisition means it has even more options. Disney’s California Adventures theme park in Anaheim opened a Guardians of the Galaxy ride in May, and there are already permanent meet-and-greets with characters including Captain America and Spider-Man. Disney has also added Avatar to its war chest, though it did open a Pandora section earlier this year at its Animal Kingdom park. “Disney will be able to offer more ways than ever before to bring kids and families the world and all that is in it,” the company said today.