So in a recent interview X-Men director Bryan Singer stated that some of the early machinery is currently working to develop an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover film for Fox. This has probably been in the works at Fox for way longer than anyone’s willing to admit. Fox has basically been rendered the odd middle child of superhero films now that Sony has caved to Marvel in the wake of their amazingly embarrassing 2014. This has put Fox into something of an awkward position as they actually aren’t that interested in making superhero films. They certainly do it but ever since Wolver Origins Fox has been keeping their superhero work at arms length.
X-Men: First Class was a quick and dirty job meant basically just to keep the rights to the X-Men away from Marvel and the same is true of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. It’s only recently with Days of Future Past that Fox seems at all invested in producing a superhero flick and even then it’s just because Avengers came out in the interim and Fox suddenly realized big budget superhero crossover romps could make mondo bucks once more. That’s why they actually hired Mark Millar to develop a shared Fox universe around the time Days of Future Past came out and blew up theaters.
Since then however Fox has really been dragging their feet on making any kind of significant strides in having their only marketable superhero property, X-Men, crossover with the most difficult to adapt big name superhero property ever invented, Fantastic Four. This probably has something to do with the insane rumors filtering out of the Fantastic Four set about Josh Trank clashing with the studio and plenty of reshoots going down. We’ll know in a couple of weeks if all that could hash a decent film out of the most cartoonish Marvel heroes this side of Howard the Duck but I’m not holding my breath personally.
It strikes me that if we do see a Fantastic Four/X-Men movie somewhere down the line it probably won’t involve the assembled actors and continuity for the upcoming Fantastic Four film. The biggest thing to remember here is that Fox is pretty ruthlessly dedicated to making their superhero films on as low a budget as possible and after Whiplash and Creed folks like Miles Teller or Michael B. Jordan are probably going to be worth quite a bit more to show up in a film. So, unless Fantastic Four 2015 lands really, spectacularly well this August I doubt Fox will decide to shell out the cash to bring back actors from a film no one was all that invested in. What’s more the Fantastic Four design and continuity for the upcoming film just don’t gel with the current aesthetic for the X-Men movie.
It’s not just that they aren’t all in black pleather so much as the drab, washed out, human monster visualization clashes completely with Days of Future Past’s civilian vs. tactical look or X-Men: Apocalypse more neon ‘80s aesthetic. Finally I don’t see the X-Men films moving out of the shelter of being period pieces anytime soon. I know that X-Men: Apocalypse is being touted as the final arm of a full universe reboot, letting Fox finally jettison costly original actors for a new crop of fresh, cheap talent but I still don’t see them moving things to the present given how much more popular these past films have been. With that in mind, what I think is far more likely is seeing the Fantastic Four as an intrinsic part of the X-Men reboot in Apocalypse.
My theory is that given we already know a big, universe reshaping reboot is about to be cemented as a way to shake up everything cumbersome or expensive in the X-Men movie canon, it’s easy to see Fox using that reboot to have the Fantastic Four already exist in the X-Men universe. This way they get to have an easier test option for these characters. They could introduce one or two members of the FF in some future X-Men film to see if they land with audiences before going for a full film, much like how Marvel soft rebooted the Hulk with Mark Ruffalo in Avengers. I wouldn’t be surprised if say the Human Torch or The Thing were to pop up in Channing Tatum’s Gambit come 2016, especially given Fox really wants Tatum as Gambit to be the series new Wolverine type figure.
Personally I’m not all that jazzed about this announcement. I like the Fantastic Four and X-Men well enough individually but there’s really not a lot of overlap between the two. Maybe this is just a result of the incredibly static and narrow focus of the X-Men movies. In the films the only thing the X-Men do is protect those who fear and hate them and all the cool reality hopping, fighting dinosaurs, and meeting alien Gods doesn’t get the time of day. If more of those elements had been included in the X-Men films maybe there’d be more common ground for a Fantastic Four/X-Men event but as it stands this just seems like a way to try and force the Fantastic Four into the same “feared and hated heroes” subsection the X-Men have because it’s easier to write movies around that kind of hero rather than the celebrity heroes the FF have always been in the comics.