As I’m sure anyone on an enthusiast site like this knows by now, Fox is working on their Fantastic Four movie reboot. Anyone on an enthusiast site also surely knows about Fox’s uh…unique casting decisions for the titular Four.
What some people on an enthusiast site might not know, however, is that sites like Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Resources and Screenrant have reportedly been speaking with Marvel contacts that the Fantastic Four comics may go hiatus in the near future, despite having recently just launched a new Issue #1.
I won’t go into all the details about who said what, or when this or that has been confirmed (BC, CBR and Screenrant are far ahead of me on that), but I’ll give you the skinny, what most people in the comics community think the reason behind this hiatus is…and then what I think the reason is.
The Skinny: Allegedly, unnamed Marvel contacts said that the Fantastic Four and Ultimate Fantastic Four will be put on hiatus in the near future, specifically near Fox’s 2015 release. Marvel Editor Tom Breevort denied these claims and confirmed that Marvel’s First Family will indeed be an integral part of Marvel’s upcoming 75th Anniversary comic, but it seems that the artists behind said 75th Anniversary’s trading card set were told that the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer and the Skrulls were off-limits.
What Everyone Thinks: Fox has long held the movie rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. It’s said that Marvel sold these movie rights off during their near-bankruptcy of the 90’s and has since tried to get them back when their own movies started taking off. Some feel that Fox’s refusal to give up these teams and, more importantly, their presence as a competitor in the box office have made Marvel belligerent and they are now trying to obscure every character they can’t film and bury them under all the characters they can make movies about.
Sounds petty? That’s what I thought. Sounds unfeasible? I thought so too, especially since the X-Men have been doing so well in the comics despite their movies being under the Fox banner. However, Screenrant has some market research and even Twitter posts from Rob Liefeld that show virtually no merchandise has been made or promoted for the X-Men movies at least as far back as Fist Class (ironic considering that was the first good movie in the series). But who’s to say the movie toys are Marvel’s job anyway? And since when did we ever take Rob Liefeld’s word seriously? Toys may be one thing, but there is something a little more obvious and definitely Marvel’s fault out there.
Remember that 75th Anniversary? Aside from a special comic and a trading card set, there was also a poster made to commemorate the occasion. As you’d expect, all of Marvel’s bigwigs and legends were there. People like Spider-Man, Captain America and…Rocket Raccoon?
This poster is apparently legitimate and attempts to celebrate Marvel’s birth by not showing its first characters or one of its first (and most frequently recurring) best-sellers. Honestly, when was the last time you saw the word “Marvel” and Wolverine wasn’t somewhere nearby?
Again, the popular theory is that Marvel is burying any characters Fox has their hands on so they can bury the competition in the box office. The obvious promotion of characters that were in, or are going to be in, movies and Netflix series lends credence to this theory (Antman made the cut but not Cyclops?). Proponents of this theory point out that Marvel seems to have a much better working relationship with Sony and that Spider-Man is just too big to bury, hence why he enjoys the front row seat of every Marvel poster and why his comics’ stories go off without a hitch, no matter what movies are or aren’t coming out.
What I Think: Marvel certainly has motive to hurt Fox (what Fox did to Doctor Doom and Galactus is punishable enough) and the poster clearly has no indoor voice with its intentions, but these sound too petty for a multi-billion dollar company. I would honestly be surprised if the FF hiatus was real…but there may be another reason why it’s on anybody’s mind to begin with.
There’s certainly shady shenanigans in the House of Ideas that supports the “F-U Fox” theory, but my gut tells me Marvel just doesn’t wanna put up with the day-and-night differences between the two Fantastic Fours (to be honest, I thought Fox requested the hiatus when I first heard about this).Regardless of how you feel about recasting characters, Fox’s cast isn’t exactly a subtle transition from the FF we’ve known for decades. Artistic license is one thing, and then there’s “Your Mr. Fantastic is 30 years too young, your Brooklyn-born Thing is British and your Human Torch made for a good Cyborg!” Maybe Marvel isn’t trying to bury the Fantastic Four so that we won’t see Fox’s movie, but so people don’t get confused why the characters don’t look like the comics and toys already on shelves!
Marvel’s no stranger to making comic tie-ins to the movies that come and go, even when they weren’t the ones who made the movies. However, every movie up until now has at least looked like the characters on the printed page, so quick stories were easy to conjure up. If Fox goes ahead with their cast, I think continuing to promote the FF comics would actually hurt Fox since anybody looking to read a “sneak peek” of their movie would be confused and grandparents wouldn’t recognize the characters for comic gifts for the kiddies. Hell, it might even hurt Marvel if the movie-going public sees Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch and then has no idea who Johnny Storm is when they read him and decide the comics are crap.
No matter the reasons, I hope this hiatus turns out to just be a rumor and that the FF (and X-Men) get the love they deserve in Marvel’s 75th Anniversary (seriously, that card series and poster are B.S…and I actually like the Guardians of the Galaxy).