One of the most hopeful developments is that Fox’s X-Men can live with Marvel’s the Avengers on the same screen, given Disney will own both major superhero teams, as well as the group that kicked off modern Marvel Comics five decades ago, the long Fox-owned Fantastic Four.
The deal has far-reaching implications for how viewers consume content, especially the boost it provides to Disney’s forthcoming streaming services, given that Disney could amass 40 percent of the domestic box office once you add Fox’s current share. Fox and Disney combine for 10 of the top 20 titles on Box Office Mojo’s inflation-adjusted list of the top-grossing movies in history domestically, including “Star Wars” and “Avatar,” both of which are ongoing franchises. Disney is trying to compete not just with traditional studios but also tech titans like Apple, Netflix and Amazon for control of content and how it gets to people’s living rooms and mobile devices.
But strictly in terms of how this could alter what viewers see on the screen, Chris Evans — who starred in Fox’s “Fantastic Four” films before becoming iconic as Marvel’s Captain America — spoke for many fans last week when he tweeted about the exciting prospects of Hollywood team-ups:
Even Hugh Jackman mused recently on how the deal could fulfill what he long hoped for since he debuted as Fox’s screen Wolverine in 2000, telling Collider: “It’s interesting because for the whole 17 years I kept thinking that would be so great, like I would love to see, particularly, Iron Man and the Hulk and Wolverine together. And every time I saw an Avengers movie I could just see Wolverine in the middle of all of them like punching them all on the head. But it was like, “Oh well, that’s not gonna happen.”
Jackman noted that though this year’s “Logan” marked his retirement from the role, “for someone else I would like to see Wolverine in there.” (“Logan,” like “Deadpool,” was violent, R-rated fare, raising the question of whether Disney will decide to use a separate umbrella for new R-rated superhero movies, or instead steer such Fox characters back to PG-13.)
Today’s deal also provides an interesting bookend to the deal Marvel Comics struck with Fox a quarter-century ago. Marvel mastermind Stan Lee and X-Men writer Chris Claremont met with “Avatar” director James Cameron in the early 1990s; after those talks didn’t gain traction, Marvel Comics — eager to land with a major studio — optioned the X-Universe rights to Fox in 1993.
“They were good deals at the time, in that they got us into the movie business. We didn’t have the money or expertise to do it,” said past Marvel publisher Shirrel Rhoades, as quoted in Reed Tucker’s new book, “Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and D.C.”
“Now, they’re bad deals because Marvel is doing so well with ‘The Avengers’ and the other stuff. The people running Marvel wish those [earlier] deals had never been made.” (Worth noting: Fox’s 10 X-films have grossed a total of nearly $5 billion worldwide.) Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, for $4 billion. Now, though, those regretted Fox deals go by the wayside.
In the ever-sprawling kingdom of Disney, so many geek streams now flow to the same dominant river. Or, as Disney chief Bob Iger said on a conference call today: “Bringing Disney and Fox together will combine some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises.”
“Now characters such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four can come home to the place where they belong,” Stan Lee, who co-created so many of those Marvel characters, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “It’s vitally important to have [them] under one roof. And now, as great as they were before, I can’t wait to see the wonders that will unfold.”
Avengers and mutants, assemble.
This post has been updated.