“A deal appears more likely than not.”
Early last month, news broke that Walt Disney Co. was making moves to acquire major assets from 21st Century Fox; most notably their film and television divisions. By the time the story broke, however, the two sides had walked away from negotiations. Now, though, CNBC is reporting that Disney’s interest in Fox’s properties hasn’t wavered and that the two sides are still in talks.
According to CNBC, talks resumed shortly after word of the acquisition surfaced last month, and Disney and Fox are “getting closer to a deal”. And while a deal between the two isn’t guaranteed, “It does appear more likely than not that they will, and could announce a deal as soon as next week”.
While Disney appears to be the frontrunner to acquire Fox’s assets, they’re not the only cowboy at the rodeo. Comcast, global telecommunications conglomerate and owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, is also bidding to acquire Fox’s assets. However, Fox’s talks with Disney are said to have gone “deeper and further”.
Should Disney close the deal, they would acquire:
Fox’s Nat Geo, Star, regional sports networks, movie studios and stakes in Sky and Hulu, among other properties. What would remain at Fox includes its news and business news divisions, broadcast network and Fox Sports.
What’s most notable here is how the deal would strengthen Disney’s iron grip on the entertainment industry. Disney currently owns Hollywood’s most bankable properties (Star Wars and Marvel), and so the addition of Fox’s assets would increase their already unrivaled influence. Disney is already attempting to domineer theater owners into screening Star Wars movies on their own favorable terms, so the addition of Fox’s assets would only further embolden the company.
Stepping away from the business side of the deal, the acquisition would be fascinating from a moviegoer’s perspective. Fox owns the rights to what is arguably Marvel’s most important title, The X-Men. The X-Men‘s characters are what are known as “mutants”, but Disney doesn’t own the right to use mutants as characters or plotpoints in their MCU films. Mutants are a cornerstone of Marvel comics, and so their exclusion from the MCU has left a giant void for longtime Marvel fans. So far, Marvel has danced around the subject by slotting mutant-adjacent characters called “Inhumans” into the MCU, to underwhelming results. Stories about mutants are part of Marvel Comics’ lifeblood – and, apologies to Tom Holland – but acquiring the rights to use mutant characters in the MCU would be an even bigger coup than bringing back Spider-Man.
While The X-Men movies are financially successful, Fox is only now beginning to tap into the franchise’s potential. Deadpool, Logan, X-Men: First Class, The New Mutants, and Legion are latter entries into the series that feel at one with the source material’s pulpy origins. They embrace oddball characters, colorful costumes, trippy set pieces, and heartfelt storytelling that tap into what fans love about X-Men comics. If Marvel can transform a group of C-listers like The Guardians of the Galaxy into MCU favorites, then it would be fascinating to see what they could do with beloved, yet underutilized, characters like Storm, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler.
You can be sure that Kevin Feige and The Russo Brothers are salivating at the thought of bringing the X-properties over to Marvel Studios. And with the MCU as we know it ending at Phase Four, it’s likely that there will be a major shift in the MCU storytelling canon. Whether it’s recasting actors, killing off characters, or having the Infinity War disrupt time and space to kickoff a new continuity, it feels like the perfect time to bring Fox’s mutants home to Marvel.