What’s the old saying? With friends like these … Marvel announced at NY Comic-Con that it has cancelled (or apparently put on a looong hiatus) any further Fantastic Four comic books. This comes just ahead of 20th Century Fox’s launch of another film property based on the comic book next year. Why? We had heard that Marvel wanted to use the Fantastic Four characters in future Avengers films, so it could be a way for Marvel to put pressure on the studio. Or maybe it doesn’t want the competition at the box office as 2015 is gearing up to be one helluva crowded market (see below) and Marvel will be vying against Fox and others on a number of tentpole films. Marvel spokespeople could not be reached for comment.
By taking that action, Marvel is pulling the plug on the comic at a key time when Fox is relying on fanboys to support the film. The question remains: Does FF have enough of a following (the past two opened to No. 1 at the box office back when) to keep the momentum going? It’s a bit of a risk anyway as the most recent installment of the franchise opened seven-plus years ago. The studio also is planning another FF film in 2017. On the flip side, the comic book apparently had been selling poorly, so this also could give Fox the ability to redefine the Fantastic Four characters as they see fit for younger viewers.
Then there’s this: Stan Lee created Fantastic Four (and Ant-Man), and just last month a lawsuit was settled (amicably apparently) between the estate of Jack Kirby and Marvel over financials owed on a number of properties that included Fantastic Four, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the original X-Men (also a Fox film franchise). After terms were agreed upon, there was a joint statement released to the media: “Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.” Um, yeah, except, you know, that Fantastic Four property? Um, let’s just nix that comic book indefinitely.
2015 likely will go down in the record books as we have Fantastic Four vs. Avengers: Age Of Ultron vs. Mad Max Fury Road vs. Fast & Furious 7 vs. Jurassic World vs. Terminator: Genisys vs. Marvel’s Ant-Man vs. James Bond 24 vs. Star Wars vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 vs. Mission: Impossible 5 all vying for top film of the year.