There have been plenty of other stories to talk about -- from the vast future of Star Wars, to the success of Black Panther, to the Terminator reboot -- but perhaps the biggest sci-fi entertainment news of the past six months has been the looming merger between the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox. The deal isn't final yet, but if it goes through, it will have major implications for the future of shared universe blockbusters and franchise filmmaking, particularly for Marvel Studios.
For years, the Holy Grail (or at least a Holy Grail; we're nerds, we can have multiple grails) of Marvel movie fandom was the notion that Sony Pictures would hand the rights to Spider-Man back over to Marvel Studios so that Peter Parker could finally stand alongside Tony Stark on the big screen. That's now a reality, and the wish list has shifted to Fox finally offering up its superhero film rights -- the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, or both -- to Marvel Studios, so that virtually every Marvel Comics character can exist in the same theatrical universe.
The idea that Wolverine could actually join The Avengers in live-action, or that the Baxter Building and Avengers Tower could finally exist in the same city, is intoxicating to every Marvel fan, including Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.
Feige got his start in superhero cinema way back on X-Men in 2000, so he's had his hand in Marvel Comics adaptations at several studios for two decades. Why wouldn't he want to see the X-Men and the Avengers united? Well, while speaking to Entertainment Weekly about Avengers: Infinity War, Feige made it clear that he's just not letting the idea onto his radar just yet.
"It’s all about getting Infinity War finished and out, starting Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Untitled Avengers, the next Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3," Feige said. "These are the ones that are keeping us busy. When and how that deal with Fox finishes and comes together and we’re told, 'Hey, now you can start working on it. Now you can start thinking about it,' is when we’ll actually start thinking about it. I will say just the notion of having what, frankly, most other companies with [intellectual property] have all along, which is access to all of their characters, that would be fun."
By the time the fourth untitled Avengers film hits theaters in 2019, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will contain 22 films. By the time Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 arrives sometime in 2020, the MCU will have hit two dozen, and that's not even counting the Black Panther sequel and possible sequels for other characters like Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and more. In a little more than a decade, Marvel Studios will have created a megafranchise as massive as James Bond, and it took Bond 50 years to get that far. To say Feige has a lot on his plate (including projects we don't even know about yet) is an understatement, so until the X-Men are firmly in his grasp again, he's content to keep them at arm's length.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters Apr. 27.