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What Disney’s Fox acquisition could mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and others)

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Last week it was announced Disney have completed their $68 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, including all of its movie and TV assets, with further plans to capitalise on the home streaming market.

"We love the movie business. It’s been incredibly profitable for us," Disney CEO Bob Iger told reporters. "We like being in the business of making quality movies. We fully intend to stay in those businesses."

While the full implications of the deal remain to be seen, we reckon there are more than a few positives to come out of it...

1. The X-Men will (finally) join the Marvel Cinematic Universe

In 2016, Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose character rights are shared between Sony and Marvel Studios, was finally permitted to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series of films.

Having soared high in a scene-stealing cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Holland's Spidey got his own triumphant solo movie in this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming. He's next set to appear in the gargantuan Avengers: Infinity War alongside the likes of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Nevertheless we've been waiting even longer for our favourite mutant superheroes, the X-Men, to be welcomed into the Marvel movie fold. Although the characters themselves belong to the Marvel comic book stable, the Fox-owned films have been prevented from merging with the wider, Disney-distributed MCU franchise.

The fact they're being brought under the wider banner of Disney is enormously exciting, all the more-so given the future of the MCU is relatively hazy beyond the end of its phase three slate (set to continue with Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel before concluding with the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4).

Could we potentially be seeing the X-Men leading the charge of MCU's phase four? Prior to the confirmation of the merger Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige told Deadline he's "eager to get his hands on the X-Men universe… and cross-pollinate the rich swarm of characters with the existing Marvel franchise heroes who show up in each other’s films."

Meanwhile, Kingsman creator Mark Millar is one of those optimistic about the future of the X-Men, saying the merger could revitalise that franchise as a whole:

This chimes with the fact that Hugh Jackman has bowed out of his signature role as Wolverine in this year's savagely brilliant Logan. Is this the right time to push the restart button on the X-Men movies as a whole?

In truth this may have already started: next year's The New Mutants is set to put a youthful, horror-inflected spin on the material and the ensuing Dark Phoenix, continuing with the James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender Xavier-Magneto dynamic, will begin a brand new trilogy. Even so, it remains to be seen what impact Disney will have on the movies going forward.


2. We could potentially get the first truly great Fantastic Four movie...

They're Marvel's original superhero family but we're still waiting for the definitive Fantastic Four big screen epic. Roger Corman's laughable 1990s effort is best forgotten, the 2004 and 2007 movies featuring Chris Evans were distinctly lightweight, and Josh Trank's grittier 2015 version was mired in production problems.

If there's one thing that's become apparent through the course of the MCU movies, it's that they've redefined the possibility of the superhero ensemble blockbuster. Really, the likes of the Avengers movies could be seen as an extension of the Fantastic Four dynamic: our heroes aren't necessarily related to each other but they depend on each for survival and emotional strength, utilising their shared abilities to save the day.

Can the Disney-Fox merger therefore smooth over the bumps in the road and give us the awesome Fantastic Four movie we've been waiting for? Bob Iger has already confirmed the group will be joining the likes of the X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Spider-Man in the MCU – just think of all those guys hogging the screen together in a future movie...

Plus, in their collaboration with Pixar, Disney have already put out a classic Fantastic Four variation of their own called The Incredibles, whose sequel arrives next year. This is surely a sign that the Four are in very good hands.


3. There's potential for reboots of existing franchises

Die Hard, War for the Planet of the Apes, Alien, Predator... What do all those movies have in common? They are (or were) all owned by Fox, which poses significant questions with regards to the Disney merger. Are these classic properties due to get a fresh lick of paint now they're under the ownership of the Mouse House?

Die Hard ploughed into its fifth movie, A Good Day to Die Hard, back in 2013, and this year's Alien: Covenant continued to muddy the water of one of cinema's most iconic sci-fi franchises. Given the middling reviews that greeted both, are we due to get a reworking of both properties? It seems unlikely at this stage given Disney's reputation, but then these are uncharted waters for everybody, filmmakers, studios and fans alike, so let's not rule anything out.


4. Star Wars

Disney are currently going gangbusters with the ongoing Star Wars trilogy (The Last Jedi has broken box office records over the weekend) and their merger with Fox may have another upside for consumers.

For a long time now, fans have been clamouring for the release of the original trilogy edits (i.e. before George Lucas augmented them with his own controversial CGI updates). Having seen their efforts stymied (not least because A New Hope remained under the ownership of Fox, even after Disney's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm), fans may finally get what they've been asking for.


But what about Deadpool?

The Fox-distributed, Marvel-branded, anarchic superhero black comedy represented a huge risk, but it ultimately paid off to the tune of $783m at the global box office. Indeed, the reason why Deadpool worked was precisely because of its palpable relish in breaking all the rules, unleashing all manner of swearing, innuendo, violence and fourth wall-breaking.

Can we really expect that to continue now the character falls under the wholesome Disney brand? Next year's Deadpool 2 is likely to remain unscathed, but what about the third movie? Here's what Bob Iger had to say:

"It [Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine."

Back in November, before confirmation of the merger, star Ryan Reynolds put out the following tweet...

What do you make of the Disney-Fox news? Let us know @Cineworld.