The Mouse House is getting a lot bigger with Disney and Fox shareholders approving a $71 billion merger deal, which means a bunch of Marvel Comics characters are coming home.
Fox had the rights for movies starring, among them, the high-profile supergroups X-Men and the Fantastic Four, including associated supporting players and villains. Now the already star-packed Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to go supernova with the possibility of debuting many of them after next year’s “Avengers 4” (May 3) wraps up Phase 3 of the MCU.
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Here’s our wish list for how they’ll factor into Marvel’s future:
Start over with X-Men.
Fanboys and girls now have their wish, with Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey and all the merry Marvel mutants in the fold. But what do you do with them? The X-movies’ impressive box office is an argument to keep that universe going, plus “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” (Feb. 14) and “The New Mutants” (Aug. 2) are already on the schedule for next year. With the biggest X-Men star Hugh Jackman retired from being Wolverine, though, now’s the time to just reboot the group and start from scratch as part of the MCU. If that’s the case, they could conceivably cancel “Dark Phoenix” (since “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is an all-time X-Men storyline that Marvel would drool over doing itself), keep “New Mutants” and build off those younger characters.
Fast-track a new ‘Fantastic Four’ movie.
The two “Fantastic Four” films in the 2000s (with pre-Captain America Chris Evans as the Human Torch) didn’t set the world on fire, and the 2015 revamp was one of the worst superhero movies ever. Marvel has the chance to finally do the comics’ “First Family” right and make the group of explorers who receive wondrous powers courtesy of space rays a cornerstone of the upcoming MCU as older “Avengers” stars perhaps exit. Also, pop culture deserves a Doctor Doom who isn’t completely terrible: A great version could take the reins of fan-favorite supervillain from Loki.
Keep Deadpool’s world separate.
Ryan Reynolds’ NSFW masked motormouth creates a slight conundrum, because the “Deadpool” movies are such huge hits you can’t ignore him, yet the tone is completely left-field of the Marvel universe. Instead of teaming Tom Holland’s Spider-Man with Deadpool for an ultraviolent episode set to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” have Reynolds’ character and his X-Force team exist on their own, separate from everything else. That way, you don’t water down any of Deadpool’s vulgar charm and you can still have Thanos jokes, DC potshots and all the fourth-wall breaks that wouldn’t make sense in an “Avengers” film.
Make Silver Surfer cool again.
One of the biggest whiffs in those earlier “Fantastic Four” movies was the lame introduction of Silver Surfer, the cosmic herald with the shiny metal skin and super-cool surfboard. With “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” up in the air following director James’ Gunn firing, Silver Surfer would be a welcome (and maybe now needed) addition to the vast corners of space in the Marvel universe, or bring him to Earth and (like in the recent comics) play him off of an ordinary human being. Bringing him in also readies the coming of the planet-eating antagonist Galactus, who could be important when they …
Save the date for ‘Avengers vs. X-Men.’
How does Marvel follow the grandness of “Avengers: Infinity War” and next year’s untitled fourth “Avengers”? Bringing together arguably the biggest supergroups in comic-book history on the same screen would be a start. It’s the faceoff/teamup that pretty much every superhero fan wants to see: It took 19 movies for all the Marvel heroes to meet each other in “Infinity War,” though moviegoers may be a little less patient to see Spider-Man and Black Panther to hang with Iceman and Storm. Naturally, they’re going to have to be friends against a common enemy and, in a post-Thanos landscape, Galactus wanting to have Earth for lunch would make for a formidable next big bad.