Avengers-X-Men MCU hopes still alive as Fox accepts new Disney offer

Image credit: Marvel
Image credit: Marvel /

Seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Children of the Atom together on the big screen is a dream that has been a roller coaster ride for fans who want to see it happen, but it’s trending the right way again.

With the first decade-plus era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe winding down next year with Avengers 4, the question of what Marvel films will look like going forward is an open one. One of the easier ways to inject new life into the MCU for Phase Four and beyond would be to open it up to the X-Men, something that has long been impossible because the movie rights to those characters have long been held by Fox.

It appeared that Disney and Marvel might get them back in an unexpected way when reports of Disney buying 21st Century Fox became public, but that courtship hit a snag when Comcast jumped in and made its own offer for the content side of Fox. However, the latest development in that saga is a good one for fans who want to see the Avengers and X-Men together, because Disney has upped its own bid to the tune of $71.3 billion, and Fox has accepted it.

Though nothing is final yet, this is a sign that it’s very likely that Fox’s movie and TV content and rights will soon be in Disney’s hands. While there are larger discussions that can be had any time media consolidation occurs, the possibilities for Marvel are both obvious and exciting.

Having the X-Men back under Marvel’s control would bring an end to a strange journey that began in the ’90s when superhero movies weren’t the dominant box office genre and Marvel was in much rougher financial straits. It made sense at the time to sell off the movie rights to many of its characters, though it was the biggest ones who left: Spider-Man (to Sony) and the X-Men, at the time the biggest comic book franchise Marvel had, to Fox along with the Fantastic Four.

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To its credit, Fox turned the X-Men into a multi-billion dollar film brand before the MCU was even a gleam in anyone’s eye. Though it never attempted anything as ambitious as Marvel Studios has with the Avengers and other heroes in one coordinated universe, Marvel’s mutant heroes have remained fairly bankable at the box office for some time while giving rise to memorable and popular casting decisions like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Professor X.

Though Marvel never admitted it, the success of the X-Men also may have led to the company downplaying the team and its spinoffs at the comic book level for fear that it would only be helping to fuel their rival’s film efforts. The only way for Marvel to even have a shot at getting the film rights back was for the X-Men to fail so that Fox essentially was forced to give up on them or work out a deal like Sony did to share Spider-Man.

That never happened, but the sale of Fox to Disney, unthinkable even a few years ago, will accomplish the goal of getting the X-Men back under the same umbrella as the Avengers in a much more direct fashion. While Marvel Studios never adapts stories for its movies straight from the comics, it does use the source material for inspiration, and from Avengers vs. X-Men to House of M, there is a multitude of series and stories starring both teams from which to pull ideas for the MCU projects of the next decade.

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It can only happen if the deal goes through, but with Disney willing to outbid Comcast, that appears to be more sure than ever to happen. Don’t expect to see the Avengers and X-Men squaring off for several years, but it’ll soon be safe to ponder what it will be like for them to share the spotlight just like they always should have.