Two weeks ago, the geek world was buzzing with speculation about a Disney purchase of the 20th Century Fox film studio and what that would mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But even as that potential merger has sort of faded into the background, news of other potential suitors for Fox has put a whole new spin on things.
To recap, Disney and Fox were apparently having serious discussions about the Mouse House acquiring a large percentage of Fox's entertainment assets, including the film operation and the FX network. Since Fox's film studio currently owns the rights to a number of Marvel properties, such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, a sale would theoretically bring those characters under the Disney umbrella and back to Marvel, where they could at last be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although those talks eventually fizzled out (at least for now), the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that Disney was not the only mega-conglomerate interested in bidding for Fox. Both Comcast and Sony have kicked the tires on the same potential deal, leading to the possibility of at least one different look for Marvel movies going forward (disclaimer: Comcast is also the parent company of SYFY).
A deal with Comcast, which owns Universal Studios, would actually not amount to much in the way of crossovers: Universal only ever owned options on the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner, and both of those have reverted back to Marvel Studios (although Universal has retained the right to distribute a solo Hulk movie, which is the main reason why we have not seen one lately).
But if Sony acquired Fox's entertainment assets, that could bring the parent company's nascent Spider-verse -- which includes Spider-Man and all the characters and villains associated with him -- into the same creative sphere as the X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four and the other Fox-owned properties. So while fans may have dreaming a couple of weeks ago about the X-Men and the Avengers getting all up in each other's Kool-aid, a Sony/Fox deal could instead find Peter Parker traipsing around town with, say, Wade Wilson or Johnny Storm.
How about this? Since Sony and Marvel Studios already have a deal in place that allows Spider-Man and the Avengers to cross over into each other's movies, Sony taking ownership of Fox's Marvel characters could bring the X-Men and the Avengers into the same film anyway.
Let's be clear: in the long run, these types of mergers are not good for pop culture or creative entertainment in general. With more consolidation comes less opportunities for filmmakers and other artists to find a home for their work, esepcially innovative and original properties. And it would be sad to see 20th Century Fox's fabulous 100-year history folded into the larger portfolio of a big corporation that may or may not respect it.
But the 10-year-old part of our brain would sure love to see as many Marvel characters interacting together as possible, which is why these talks are as intriguing as they are depressing. Would you want to see the X-Men and Spider-Man come together in the same film universe, or is that possibility not worth the corporate consolidation that comes with it?