As a fan of Marvel comic book adapted movies in general, I as well as millions of others have seen both the Marvel Studios produced Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, Sony’s Spider-Man trilogy and the two movie reboot as Amazing Spider-Man (Spideyverse); as well as the Fox produced X-Men and Fantastic Four (X-verse) movies that have been released over the last fifteen years.
By way of explanation, Sony had previously bought the rights to make Spider-man movies exclusively in 1999 – when Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy – for a meager $7 million dollars. Fox bought the rights to the X-Men in the mid-nineties for an undisclosed amount (I was at least unable to find a number, dates range from 1994 to 1996). The terms of these contracts are confidential, but it is known that the contracts stipulate that Sony and Fox need to use them every certain amount of years, or the rights will revert back to Marvel. Hence why we received a multiple reboots of Spider-man, an ongoing series of X-films, and the now rebooted Fantastic Four movies.
With plans for movies to be released over the next several years, and options to continue these franchises even further, it seems the superhero genre will not be fading anytime soon. In fact, the genre may only be hitting its stride.
But I, like many fans out there, wish that instead of three separate cinematic universes (the MCU, Spideyverse and the X-verse) were all gathered under one umbrella, in which it’s best to tell the stories from the comic books as authentically as possible. As it stands, for example, Marvel Studios – who have been the leader in the genre since the release of 2008’s Iron Man – are currently building the MCU in phases.
Phase One was an origin chapter, Phase Two was The Avengers, Phase Three will be the hugely popular comic book event Civil War, and Phase Four will be the climax of a storyline that has been a subplot throughout the first three phases, The Infinity Gauntlet, an equally as loved event storyline as Civil War.
The problem with a Marvel Studios contained universe (keeping in mind, until now there have been very few missteps under the “Phase” plan’) is that much beloved characters cannot be used because those licenses belong to other studios.
Perhaps the best example is that of Wolverine. Wolverine has over the last decade or so become one of the key members of The Avengers in the Earth 616 universe (Marvel’s comic book main universe). An Avengers without him seems wrong to today’s comic fan. Many other X-Men are prominent members of The Avengers, such as Hank McCoy (aka the Beast), Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch), Pietro Maximoff (aka Quicksilver), just to name a few.
The unfortunate side of things, is that comic books are not just for our enjoyment, but are also a business. Considering that 3 comic book themed movies rank in the Top 10 highest grossing films of all time, the money these licenses can pull in for the various owners of the characters has proven to be a very large and profitable draw to continually making movies, TV shows, and all other types of media. The fact that not all licenses can intermingle to create optimal interest for both the fan through comic book accurate stories and continuity, as well as maximize the opportunity to increase the audience, and therefore the profits of any coordinating movie studios is lost on me.
I am not a business minded individual, but even I can see that if I have something that you need in order to make something that you’re working on better; and you have something I need in order to make what I’m doing better; is it not logical that we should collaborate to make each of us, as well as our customers, a better product?
Enter Deadpool. Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool) is a uniquely qualified character in which to tie together the Marvel characters in which these three studios hold the licenses for onscreen. The legal side to all this, of course, would have to be decided off-screen in plush boardrooms by people in suits (the wrong people), while undoubtedly discussing deals and ways for money to change hands, and percentages of box office gross …but I (sadly) digress.
For the simple fact that there has been multiple movie universes created in which The Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four live, you would need a storyline in which the skill set of a character like Deadpool is uniquely qualified to bring together. With the recent “loaning out” of Spider-Man from Sony to Marvel Studios, the groundwork has already been laid for such a bold endeavor.
As Wade is a much beloved character in the comics already, and has just recently seen a surge in fan appreciation through the upcoming Deadpool movie, and the magnificent viral campaign the the star Ryan Reynolds as well as the studio have put forth, he is at an all time high.
When you weave in his awareness that he is a comic book character, who continually breaks the fourth wall (ie talks to the reader, gives critique of the writers and artists on his book, etc) he if used properly can be the the bridge to pull all these threads together and create a whole new tapestry, one that resembles the more full comic book universe in which all these characters exist.
For example, they are in the early stages of flushing out Hugh Jackman’s last go around as Logan (aka Wolverine). The actor has asked the fans which storyline they would like to see. The overwhelming response was Old Man Logan. A future story about how Logan, as well as Marvel Studios licenses Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye), Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk) and Johann Schmitt (aka the Red Skull) cope with a post-apocalyptic future; all figure largely into the story.
Given current agreements between studios (that being, there are none), this movie would be very hard to tell – to the fans appreciation of the source material – without lobotomizing the story and fitting in characters to replace those characters who were originally meant to appear.
Ask yourself this: What if in the DC Universe Fox owned Batman, Sony owned Wonder Woman and DC owned Superman? Would we ever receive the upcoming Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice movie and its subsequent / anticipated Justice League film? The answer is no. This would be akin to these three studios each owning one each of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.
With Deadpool, who is a known affiliate of the X-Men (both Wolverine and Deadpool are products of the Weapon Plus project), and good friends with Steve Rogers (a fellow who understands Wade’s past as a ‘nobody’ who was given extraordinary power) in the comics, he is the nexus in which all of Marvel’s characters can flow through to come out as one Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The road to such a tidal shift in the storytelling of these characters will be long, but ultimately it would be well worth all of the effort made. On a business level, the profit being neglected is monumental. On a movie making level, the characters from which to draw on, would not only increase quality of the stories being told, but would lessen the headaches involved in having to work around key characters, or make unnecessary changes.
Perhaps though, most important of all, are the fans who fuel the desire for a movie to be made, and are integral to how much money will be made by any given movie. The fan is the basic building block in which all cinema is beholden to. When an actor says “It’s all because of the fans” or “We owe it all to the fans” (in regards to success); these are not platitudes in which they are pandering to the people; this is the honest truth.
In conclusion, this Deadpool theorem states that using Deadpool as the conduit in which to link these separate universes, is the best way to go forth with all avenues of business, production and fandom receiving the maximum output.
While movies as singular entities may succeed or fail, when propped up with the right crutches and given a chance to be what the fan of comics have come to love and cherish, the scales tip much closer to success. Given all the right tools to succeed the industry as a whole benefits exponentially, from the studio all the way on down to the loyal fan.