Every so often a right’s dispute will leave the realm of the courtroom and spill out into our pop-culture. This is the current case with Marvel Movies and Fox Studios. Marvel, who originally created the X-men Story Line, sold the rights to Fox and now they want them back.
In 1996 Marvel was facing financial troubles. They sold the rights to several of their comic characters to different studios. Most notably was the sale of X-Men’s rights to Fox. The sale of the rights made Marvel financially stable, and launched Marvel into the movie- making business. Over the past years, Marvel has capitalized on their movies by creating some of the highest grossing comic book movies. Only DC’s reboot of the Batman franchise is comparable.
The properties that Marvel sold have been met with varying degrees of success. Minor players, in the movie making industry, such as Netflix, have made characters such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones into huge successes. Even ABC has enjoyed success with Agents of Shield. In the hands of Fox Movies the X-Men franchise has enjoyed success, but has vastly under- performed expectations. As the fifth most successful comic line in the industry, it should be pulling in significantly more than less known series do, such as “The Guardians of the Galaxy”. However, it isn’t the numbers that is making Marvel upset, it’s the hard-core fan disappointment that has caused Marvel to try and retain the rights.
Marvel has managed to work-out deals with most of the studios that acquired the rights to Marvel characters. Sony is working with Marvel, which is why Spider-Man appeared in Captain America Civil War. Daredevil rights eventually reverted back to Marvel, due to non-use and Marvel let Netflix use them. Netflix’s interpretation of the blind hero has been met with rave reviews and great success. Netflix has proceeded to work with Marvel in order to bring Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to the screen.
Fox is unwilling to resale or return the X-Men’s rights to Marvel and Marvel feels the X-Men movies continue to dissappoint. How dissappointed is Marvel? Marvel Comics it seems would rather replace and phase- out one of their most successful comics of all time, instead of continuing to contribute to Fox’s success. So how does Marvel appear to be pulling their support from the Mutants and making the X-Men a dying franchise?
-Marvel is slowly replacing the concept of mutant with “Inhumans”.
-The X-Men are no longer featured on Marvel posters.
-No new mutants are being created in the comic book universe (e.g., people born with their superpowers).
-Marvel has stopped the manufacture of X-Men merchandise.
-It is rumored that Marvel is going to kill- off Wolverine, the most prominent X-Man.
Will Marvel’s playing hardball work? It’s hard to say. There is a whole generation of kids growing up who will never get a happy- meal with a Wolverine Toy or that plastic cup with Wolverine on it. Now that Disney owns Marvel, it’s unlikely they will need the money from the toys and other X-Men merchandise.