Will X-Men and Fantastic Four Now Appear in 'Avengers 4'?

Yesterday, shareholders from both Disney and Fox voted to approve the pending merger of the two entertainment giants. With one more roadblock out of the way it looks nearly certain that the deal will be finalized bringing the X-Men and the Fantastic Four "home" to Marvel. This has fans asking a big question: will the X-Men and Fantastic Four now appear in the upcoming Avengers 4?

The short answer? Probably not and for a variety of reasons, most of them coming down to time.

For starters, the majority of Avengers 4 has already been shot. The film is currently in post-production and while there is some additional photography left to do -- director Joe Russo told Deadline so himself earlier this month -- the film itself is largely set. Russo made that point clear when he addressed whether response to Infinity War would have any impact on Avengers 4.

"I feel like with Avengers 4, because it was made before there was any response to Avengers 3, it's really pure in that regard," Russo said. "The storytelling is very pure. It's without any sort of external noise creeping in at all."

There's also the matter of major decisions to be made regarding both the X-Men and Fantastic Four in regard to casting and how to handle the existing X-Men franchise. Should the fan-favorite team come to the MCU, it's possible that it will be with new actors and new stories separate from the pre-Disney films. Decisions on how to handle these things would likely take more time than available to bring the characters to Avengers 4.

With those kinds of hurdles, the easiest way for Avengers 4 to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the film would be in a post-credits scene or even a simple mention. However even those more generic introductions have complications that come down to the element of time. While U.S. regulatory bodies have largely approved the Disney/Fox deal so long as Disney sells off Fox's regional sports network as owning both it and ESPN could form a sports broadcasting monopoly, the Department of Justice isn't the only regulatory body that has to approve the deal. There are numerous other countries that need to approve the deal before it would be final -- which could take a while.

Last December, Fox and Disney both said that they hoped the deal would be complete in 12-18 months. With the brief interruption that was Comcast's play Fox, that timeline is likely going to be closer to 18 months which would put the deal being finalized sometime in late spring or early summer of 2019. By that time, Avengers 4 will already be in theaters meaning that Marvel Studios would not legally have the right to name drop or mention any of the properties coming over from Fox.

While fans aren't likely to get any X-Men or Fantastic Four love in Avengers 4, they still have the future beyond that film to look forward to. Planning for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already underway and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently told Daily News that he'll start developing the properties coming over from Fox as soon as the deal is done.

"When and how that deal with Fox finishes and comes together and we're told, 'Hey, now you can start working on it. Now you can start thinking about it,' is when we'll actually start thinking about it," Feige said.

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Avengers 4 is set to hit theaters on May 3, 2019.

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