20th Century Fox’s weird control over a select few Marvel properties was always an outlier in the world of superhero cinema, but with the company’s impending merger with Marvel parent company Disney, its X-Men and Fantastic Four-adjacent projects now seem like good investments in the greater MCU.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox’s planned superhero projects (including several secret ones) are moving forward, full steam ahead.
A previously unannounced Silver Surfer solo film, reportedly scripted by Saga and Y: The Last Man creator Brian K. Vaughn, is “going 100 miles per hour,” the outlet writes, while Channing Tatum's woebegone and director-less Gambit film has a budget and a new script draft coming in March.
Meanwhile, New Mutants, the AHS: Asylum-like horror film, is supposedly adding a new character with reshoots and will premiere next year after Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix give audiences their mutant fix in 2018. As for those enamored with the Deadpool team, they'll find more to love in Drew Goddard’s X-Force team-up.
The point is, Fox is developing as many superhero properties as possible now that they’ve found greater success. According to a Fox insider quoted by THR, "We actually have way more in development and production in Marvel IP than at any point in the history of the studio. There's been zero slowdown on that front."
Some of these films are far off, like Legion showrunner Noah Hawley’s Doctor Doom movie, and some are even farther away, like that of longtime Marvel writer and current DC flip-flopper Brian Michael Bendis. He’s penning an X-Men project for Deadpool director Tim Miller, which isn’t affected by the merger “in any way, shape or form.”
This is all bet-hedging given the possibility that the merger could be struck down or fall apart at the last minute. No use wasting time developing crossovers to Avengers 4 if you end up not becoming one super-company with the rights to all of Marvel’s heroes.
Until then, Fox will no doubt continue pushing its own properties as hard as possible to bank on the goodwill it’s earned with its R-rated additions to the superhero field — additions that will now need to find their rightful place on family-friendly Disney's expanded slate.