As Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox nears its early March close, the deal is expected to kill multiple Fox projects inspired by Marvel Comics' X-Men and Fantastic Four properties.
Among the casualties are the long-gestating Gambit and Deadpool 2 offshoot X-Force, neither of which will make a shooting start before Fox merges with Disney and its pipeline of in-the-works Marvel projects is retooled under the Marvel Studios banner or shuttered entirely.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said previously it "only makes sense" to integrate its newly owned Marvel characters under the purview of Marvel Cinematic Universe architect Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios, where the characters can be "supervised by one entity." Iger also said that "there shouldn't be two Marvels."
Indeed, Marvel Studios will be nearly wholly complete for the first time in its 11-year history when it assumes control over the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Deadpool properties, allowing them the use of such coveted Stan Lee co-created characters like the villainous Doctor Doom and the cosmic-powered Silver Surfer.
Feige insists there are currently no plans being drawn for the integration of such characters — they'll remain under Fox's control until the deal is finalized — at which point Feige will move forward with his "vague ideas" for the X-Men and Fantastic Four to join the MCU, home to the Avengers and Spider-Man (the latter of which made possible through a joint agreement with Sony Pictures, who otherwise still possess the wall-crawler's screen rights.)
"The truth is, I'm excited for all of them. I'm excited, and it's not just the marquee names you know — there are hundreds of names on those documents, on those agreements," Feige said earlier this month at the 76th Annual Golden Globes when asked about reclaiming the Fox-controlled library of characters. "And the fact that Marvel is as close as we may ever get now to having access to all of the characters, is something I've been dreaming about for my almost 20 years at Marvel. And it's very exciting."
Fantastic Four Kid’s Movie
It was learned in June of 2017 Fox was reportedly eyeing to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise with a more child-friendly scope, told through the eyes of Franklin and Valeria Richards — the super-powered offspring of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman — with the siblings' uncles, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, involved in key roles.
Fresher reports later added the project would act as a rework of comic book author Mark Millar's (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) never-made Kindergarten Heroes.
Development on the project has been quiet since summer 2017, suggesting the project was scrapped long before the looming Disney-Fox merger. Fox previously tried rebooting Fantastic Four — the two-movie series that starred Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Chris Evans — with 2015's Josh Trank-directed Fant4stic, inspired in part by Millar's Ultimate Fantastic Four comic books.
That film was a notorious box office bomb, since disowned by both Trank and screenwriter Jeremy Slater, who later apologized for the misfire that starred Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell.prevnext
Doctor Doom Solo Movie
Legion and Fargo mastermind Noah Hawley penned a Fantastic Four offshoot centered around infamous archenemy Victor Von Doom, which the screenwriter acknowledged was completed but on hold last June.
"I wrote a script that I really like and the studio really likes," Hawley said of Fox, adding the script was mostly finished but needed "a little work."
Hawley faced conflicts with his duties to Jon Hamm and Natalie Portman-starrer Lucy in The Sky — then called Pale Blue Dot — intending to return to Doctor Doom after completing Lucy, lest the Disney-Fox merger kill the project.
"I know there's also a little uncertainty, given the potential for a Disney merger and the fact that Marvel may regain control of X-Men and Fantastic Four," Hawley said. "They may have a plan of their own in a desk drawer. I just don't know. So, I think there's sort of a sense of uncertainty."
The writer-director added "the studio would like to make it," but was unsure it would move forward. "I think we're all just trying to figure out how and when we're gonna do that," he said.
Like the Fantastic Four reboot before it, the project was quietly shelved with no updates since mid-2018.prevnext
Silver Surfer Solo Movie
Another Fantastic Four standalone spinoff planned by Fox would have centered around Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer.
A revived iteration of that project was reported to be in the works last February, from a treatment by Brian K. Vaughan (Marvel's Runaways, Y: The Last Man).
Long before Vaughan boarded Silver Surfer, Fox intended to spin the character out into his own film after he featured in 2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, where the herald of the planet-eating Galactus was portrayed by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne.
The project once was penned by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Marvel Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man), who said in 2008 he did not expect the Silver Surfer solo to move forward because the studio was "kind of disappointed in how Fantastic Four 2 did."
Straczynski explained to Beyond Hollywood the Silver Surfer movie would have been a true spinoff of Rise of the Silver Surfer, picking up immediately where that film left off and detailing Radd's servitude to a Galactus who was envisioned as being "true to the original" and "not at all silly looking."
Adam McKay, the acclaimed writer-director behind Vice and who helped write 2015's Ant-Man, has since said he hopes to team with Marvel Studios to revive the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.prevnext
Gambit, the pet project of star and producer Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Logan Lucky), suffered from a revolving door of filmmakers and multiple delays.
Original director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) exited before the reigns were handed to Doug Limon (The Bourne Identity), who would also later drop out. Production looked to move forward under Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl), but the director bailed last January citing scheduling issues in what was reported to be an amicable split.
The project was described as a super-powered heist movie with comedic elements, putting a spin on Ocean's 11 and Romeo & Juliet — with mutants. Before Gambit languished in development hell, the raging Cajun first appeared in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Taylor Kitsch.
January 2018 brought news Fox was eyeing an X-Men spinoff centered around Kitty Pryde, a.k.a. the phase-shifting Shadowcat, under Deadpool director Tim Miller, who did not return for the sequel to the hit Ryan Reynolds-led franchise following creative differences.
The little-talked about Shadowcat movie has had no developments in the year since. Stefan Kapičić, who plays Kitty's comic book lover Colossus in both Deadpool movies, told ComicBook.com in July he believed there was a "huge possibility you're going to see Colossus and Kitty Pryde."
Ellen Page last played the character in 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, after first debuting as the fan-favorite teenaged mutant in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand.prevnext
Wonder Woman scribe Allan Heinberg was reported in November 2017 to be penning a script for Multiple Man, to be produced by Simon Kinberg and star James Franco (Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy).
The project's script, centered around a not-entirely-heroic mutant possessing the ability to create upwards of 100 clones of himself, was "still being worked on" as recently as September 2018, according to Kinberg.
Franco previously hinted the project would have been a "hard R" in the vein of Deadpool and Logan, saying Multiple Man would take "this superhero thing and really just push it into a new genre."prevnext
X-Force — described by Kinberg as a darker, "black ops" spin on the X-Men — is reportedly KIA, much to the disappointment of creator Rob Liefeld, who said earlier this week the movie would have been an "$800 million grosser easy."
Spinning out of Deadpool 2, which acted as a sort-of backdoor pilot for X-Force, the film was to be the next project from writer-director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods, Bad Times at the El Royale).
Deadpool's Ryan Reynolds, who is on board as star and producer alongside X-Men's Kinberg and longtime franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner, anticipated X-Force to replace the solo franchise moving forward.
Kinberg acknowledged last May a roster had not yet been determined, but Deadpool 2 newcomers Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz were expected to reprise their respective roles as the time-traveling mercenary Cable and the always-lucky Domino.8comments
The twice-delayed and horror-tinged The New Mutants is now expected to be the last film out of the X-Verse first established with 2000's X-Men, and is set for release August 2.
June's Dark Phoenix, helmed by first-time director Kinberg, has been described by the producer as the beginning of a "new chapter" for the long-running franchise — but the X-Men sequel looks instead to be its last.prev