As Marvel officially announces 45 new series an/or relaunches of favorite titles, one family is notably missing: The Fantastic Four. While there have been some indication that this could be taking place because of difficulty in the film adaptations, it is still surprising that they would let these important characters go. This does not mean these characters are not represented at all, however, The Thing has been ported over to teh Guardians of the Galaxy, Johnny Torch is with the Inhumans, yet Reed Richards and the Invisible Woman are nowhere to be found.
Marvel Studios does not hold the rights to all their characters. X-Men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four movies have all been done by different studios, outside of the continuity that Marvel Studios is attempting to build with their franchises. The difficulty with sharing licensing of the characters, both in terms of profit negotiations and just of creative decisions, has led to a clear de-emphasis on the X-Men in Marvel comics in favor of the Inhumans. When was the last time you heard the term “mutant” about their characters? On one of their most recent character posters it was revealed that the X-Men and Fantastic Four were notably absent.
Chris Claremont famously revealed recently that X-Men writers were told by Marvel not to create any more new X-Men because then they could be taken by Fox Studios for their films, then would be unavailable for Marvel Studios. When asked about it, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort said:
If you had two things, and on one you earned 100% of the revenues from the efforts that you put into making it, and the other you earned a much smaller percentage for the same amount of time and effort, you’d be more likely to concentrate more heavily on the first, wouldn’t you?”
This is a real problem as Fox continues with their next X-Men movie from Brian Singer, is planning the third Wolverine Film, and has toyed with the possibility of bringing X-Factor to the big screen. There is no sign that these film studios will want to lose their biggest summer money makers so that Marvel can continue their very niche publishing schedule.
So now that Fantastic Four is gone, what’s next? Are the X-Men up for the chopping block? It seems like they would want to continue these titles in print anyway since sales will often jump with the movies releasing, and not to mention that die hard fans are clearly going to be incensed. Perhaps this is temporary, but the future looks bleak.