Ever since word of a deal between Fox and Disney first emerged, fans have been wondering if and when we'll get the Avengers and the X-Men side by side on the big screen. We still don't have a definitive answer, but according to Avengers 4 directors Joe and Anthony Russo, it's only a question of when.
The Russo Brothers are putting the finishing touches on the fourth Avengers film right now ahead of its much-anticipated first trailer, but they've been making time for a few public appearances lately. On Tuesday they stopped by Business Insider's IGNITION Conference to have a chat, and the looming Disney-Fox merger was a major topic. Though the Russos have said they're stepping away from the MCU after finishing up their second Avengers flick, they were confident that the integration of the Fox characters (including the X-Men and the Fantastic Four) is in the cards for the universe.
"I'm sure of it," Joe Russo said. "I'm certain, with [president of Marvel Studios] Kevin Feige, who also has been on an historic run in the business, that he is going to incorporate those characters under the large Marvel umbrella.
"We haven't spoken to him [Feige] specifically about when he's going to do it, but I'm certain that that acquisition created great value in dimensionalizing Marvel and the stories that they can tell going forward."
The Disney merger, which will see the House of Mouse acquiring most of Fox's major entertainment properties, will take place next year, and it's still unclear exactly how Fox's various franchises will be affected. In the case of the studio's Marvel properties, the Fantastic Four are largely on hold (apart from Noah Hawley's developing Doctor Doom film), but the X-Men are very much active. Two different films — Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants — are set to arrive next year, and the Deadpool solo franchise is still a hit with audiences, with the Once Upon a Deadpool PG-13 cut hitting theaters this year and star Ryan Reynolds still very interested in a third film and eventual X-Force movie.
That leaves Disney with different options in terms of where they'd like to take the mutant characters. They could keep the franchises going as they are until they reach some kind of logical conclusion, they could integrate the franchises into the existing MCU through some kind of comic book magic, or they could simply start over with new versions of characters who've already had a cinematic life over at Fox. Marvel has, in true Marvel fashion, not revealed any plans, but it's clear that Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger will not just want to leave the properties be. Something will happen, and it'll probably happen sooner rather than later.
"Bob Iger, by the way, is an historic film executive," Joe Russo said. "What he has done for Disney over the last 15 years, I don't know that anyone's ever done anything at the scale that he's done it and with the batting percentage that he's done it with. So I think the acquisition of Fox is showing us where the future of the business is going to go. Everything's conglomerating."
Avengers 4 arrives in theaters May 3.