Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bittersweet news for Marvel fans as Mark “Kick Ass” Millar “creative consults” on Fox’s Marvel movies; X-Men & Fantastic Four…

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Why bittersweet you say? Well ever since Marvel got their cinematic act together with  & The Incredible Hulk, Marvel comics fans have been daring to dream that film rights, characters such as Spider-Man, Blade and The –Men, would be bought back by Marvel. When Multi-gazillion dollar company Disney purchased Marvel in 2009 those dreams (unrealistically) surged to fantasy levels. Whilst characters Blade, The Punisher and just this past month, Daredevil have passed back into Marvel’s hands, The ‘Big Boys’ Spider-Man (at Sony) and X-Men and The Fantastic Four (at Fox) remain far too potent as potential money spinners to be allowed to fall back into Marvel’s hands: they also would be prohibitively expensive for Marvel, or their parent Disney, to buy back. So going to the trouble of hiring Mark Millar (writer on The Fantastic Four, The Ultimates & creator of Kick Ass, Wanted  & many more) to oversee / advise on the Fox Marvel properties, X-Men & Fantastic Four is yet further proof that IF those characters are to go back to Marvel it will be a long way in the future.

Of course the much rosier way to view this is that a modern comic book giant is going to be advising Fox on how to not get things so terribly wrong (Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic Four (1 & 2); and how to carry on doing the good things well. (X-Men: First Class, X-men, X2.) It will add to speculation that Fox will be able to meld their properties into a single film Universe (As Marvel have done with the MCU) with the X-Men and Fantastic Four films crossing over. However this remains something that we don’t know is possible; anyway Fox look to have their own version of movie melds with the characters of the X –Men films apparently set to jump into X-Men: First Class as they dabble with mind-bending time travel / alternate future tale The Days of Future Past. Rumours persist that the story of that film will make use of the “original” cast to play the future versions of the X-Men: First Class people; as opposed to aging make up or FX. These are rumours that have been casually swelled by the odd nod and wink from the likes of producer Bryan Singer (2, Usual Suspects) and director Matthew Vaughan (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class.) So even if you would rather all of your Marvel heroes were only on the big screen in actual Marvel movies, at least there’s a chance that Fox will improve their percentage of decent super hero films now.
Fox won't have anymore Daredevil related films.

20th Century Fox: licensed Marvel films...
North American Gross
International Gross
X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men: First Class
Fantatsic Four
Fantastic Four 2
* Shooting Budget – Does not include P&A costs

There are those who think, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, that Marvel were foolish to sell of the rights (well lease them) to so many of their characters back in the 1990s, especially given the success of the MCU, especially The Avengers, but that doesn’t take into account the historical context. ( A view enhanced by details like Marvel only getting about $62m from the $2b takings of the Spider-Man film, or $26m from the three X-Men films.) The fact is that Sipper hero movies wee very hit and miss, DC comics was owned by Warner Brothers and hence their major characters had a motion picture outlet readymade. For all the risk and ridicule that went with Marvel Studios taking out a loan of over $525m to make films of Iron Man, Thor & Co (characters considered ‘unknown’ or unloved), nobody was going to be lending Marvel money to make films in the 1990s. More than that the calibre of actor and director you can attract to these films now is of the highest order, and not to ham it up for a big payday either. (Just look at the number of Oscar & Bafta nominations racked up by the lead cast of The Avengers.) It took the success of Blade, X-Men & Spider-Man to manoeuvre the film business into a position where Marvel could make their own films in the first place. IT took the success of Blade to push Fox over the top into making X-Men. X-Men had a massive hand in getting Spider-Man to the screen, in a massive production. To quote the New York Times way back in 2004, when the referenced Blade and X-Men:-
“Together, the movies proved that even comic book characters unknown to the general public could become the basis for blockbusters.”

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