Ok, this story is something we’ve been following for the last few days, but wanted to let it develop a little before we started reporting on it because not only does it sound mad, it’s potentially massive…
It really kicked off last Thursday when Bleeding Cool reported that they had a source at Marvel who claimed that the Fantastic Four and ultimate Fantastic Four comics were going to be put on hold. The reason? Because the powers that be at Marvel believe that their comics will promote the upcoming Fantastic Four movie reboot at Fox (who also own X-Men) and this promotion would be at the expense of Marvel’s own film studio which is owned by Disney.
But that makes no sense, right? Wrong. It seems there’s more to it.
CBR has also confirmed that this is happening although they said the characters will appear in other Marvel books but not in actual Fantastic Four titles.
However, on Friday, Bleeding Cool reported that the order to cull Fantastic Four titles came from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter. Then Sean Paune published the below letter that tells Marvel artists working on the Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set that they couldn’t use Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Thing and Human Torch or Doctor Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer, The Watcher and Skrulls.
Now, as we mentioned already, Fox also owns the X-Men movie franchise, but there seems to be no plans to stop those, but the rumoured reason is simply because they are still big sellers at Marvel, as Bleeding Cool pointed out, All-New X-Men appeared twice in the Top 20 for April, with Uncanny X-Men, Amazing X-Men, X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men all in the Top 60, however apparently Perlmutter has deemed X-Men to be “no longer the focus of internal promotion,” unless it’s in tandem with the Avengers as in upcoming Marvel event AXIS.
Sony and Spider-man are unaffected by any of this as the two are rumoured to have a better relationship than Marvel than fox, this explains the relaunch of amazing spider-man going ahead last month and the fact that Marvel’s inhouse animation looks after the Ultimate Spider-man series.
Just to muddy the waters, on Tumblr, Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort said: “My denying rumors isn’t likely to keep anybody who’s prone to paranoia from panicking. But really, does this even seem remotely plausible to people? Does it make any sense? Folks have a very strange idea as to the way a business is run.”
But this still won’t go away… and there’s more fuel on the fire yet.
X-Force creator and Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld told his Twitter followers last week that reports of Marvel Entertainment attempting to undercut the Marvel properties whose film rights are held by 20th Century Fox are for real say Comicbook.com.
He goes on to add that Sony and Marvel WILL co-finance and co-distribute the next Amazing Spider-man movies with the outcome being that the character will eventually appear in The Avengers movies.
Liefeld believes that, to get a clear idea of what is happening, you need look no further than the toy isles: It’s not money that matters in this strategy, it’s the hearts and minds of kids/toy buyers. He believes this is clear when you see how many Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 toys there are but not any X-Men tie-ins anywhere. If there were Days of Future Past toys, they would take away from the upcoming onslaught of Guardians of the Galaxy toys.
So essentially, Marvel are putting the clamp on toys unless THEY are releasing the corresponding movies. If this is true, we can expect to see no Fantastic Four toys either.
But what is the endgame here? Hard to say, Marvel are perhaps hoping to get their own franchises back by suffocating them at other studios, but Liefeld does say that, in his opinion, Sony will split producing/financing with Marvel on the next Spidey film and open the door for inclusion in Avengers 3. He believes this ties into the rumours that Sony might have to get rid of their movie division altogether due to financial problems.
Comics, huh? It can be a cut-throat business…