Though Disney CEO wants to “be careful” with his words, the message is pretty clear: “There shouldn’t be two Marvels.”
In another except from the company leader’s recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Iger made it clear that it “only makes sense for Marvel to be supervised by one entity.” The entity in question: Marvel Studios. His comments revolve around the absorption of 20th Century Fox into Disney and the future of the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties as they’ve been known throughout the 21st Century.
Since the late 1990s, Fox controlled the film and television rights to the marquee Marvel Comics series. As the deal was made during Marvel’s bankruptcy, Fox had the rights in perpetuity provided they continued to make films on a regular basis. Ghost Rider and Daredevil were also part of the deal at one point, but as adapting those characters proved to be tough creatively and financially, Fox let their rights lapse. Daredevil became the flagship television show in Marvel’s deal with Netflix while Ghost Rider emerged on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a striking, but brief story.
Fox found quick success with the X-Men and a series of Wolverine-focused spinoffs, but the Fantastic Four floundered under their watch. And since X-Men is the successful brand, more attention has been paid to them than anything else.
In the interview, Iger metered his words by adding, “I want to be careful here because of what’s been communicated to the Fox folks, but I think they know.” Which, as much as anything, feels like the last word on the matter. But as we’ve discussed before, it may still be some time before a well-known mutant or the Baxter Building pops up in a Marvel Studios picture. The merger will not close until December at the earliest. Once the deal is closed and ownership of the Fox assets transferred, it may still be months or even a year before Marvel Studios has the go-ahead to include a Wolverine cameo in a stinger scene.
Then again, it is always possible there will be enough to film a quick sting for the fourth Avengers movie, but that really depends on when the deal finally closes.
Also of interest is Iger’s notion of the “two Marvels.” At the moment, this is actually the case with Marvel Studios as a functionally separate entity from Marvel Entertainment. The latter is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Disney, meaning it acts as a separate company with its own officers, while Marvel Studios is a division of The Walt Disney Studios and answerable to Disney’s officers instead of Marvel Entertainment. Perhaps another reorganization is on the horizon to truly make one Marvel.