“The Avengers can team up with the X-Men!” was one of the staler takes to circulate late Monday after news broke that Disney is looking to do a 21st Century Fox mambo and acquire most of the company. It sparked a lot of speculation online that Disney is looking to reunite its X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is certainly enticing. But at the center of all of this, it's troublesome that the excitement over seeing Magneto versus Thor has outweighed the negative aspects of a potential Fox acquisition by Disney.
Though talks are currently off the table, Disney has long been interested in creating their own streaming service to rival Netflix and Hulu. As it turns out, it's not even the prospect of bringing the X-Men into the Marvel fold that's the most alluring to them. Fox owns the rights to properties like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, and Futurama which would lure viewers to their rival streaming service, particularly if those shows are kept off Netflix and Hulu, along with all of Disney's movies and the films in 21st Century Fox's catalog. For Disney, this is all about control of the future and the future is streaming.
A few things weren't in discussion to be acquired, like F/X and Fox News and Fox Sports, mostly because the latter could bring antitrust issues into play. Disney owning Fox News and ABC News and also Fox Sports and ESPN would be a dangerous monopoly that the government and consumers would fight back against. But even without that particular monopoly, Disney would still wield a hell of a lot of control in the film industry if they were to acquire Fox.
Just take a look at the films this year that were both Disney and Fox properties. Beauty and the Beast. Ghost in the Shell. Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Thor: Ragnarok. Murder on the Orient Express. Alien: Covenant. Logan. War of the Planet of the Apes. Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. That's a hefty pull of this year's film revenue and also most of the major releases from this year. Disney owning more films and producing nearly half the studio movies released in any given year could become troubling for filmmakers and even critics.
Just this week, The Los Angeles Times revealed that they've been banned from film screenings by Disney: "This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public." Since the announcement, journalists from Flavorwire, The Washington Post, and The A.V. Club have stood in solidarity with The Times and said they will not cover Disney films until the ban is lifted.
When you think about Disney pettily wielding their power against critics for purported unfair reporting, which is eerily similar to some other person in power this year whose name escapes my mind, think about how much worse that would be if Disney also controlled Fox's properties. It's not the first time a studio has done this and it probably won't be the last, but giving Disney that much power in Hollywood doesn't particularly bode well for anyone besides Disney. Nevermind the fact that it also doesn't bode well for Fox employees who have jobs that would become obsolete once Disney absorbs the company.
But on the subject of the X-Men, as I've noted before, Fox is doing rather creative things with the franchise thanks to Logan, Legion, and the upcoming New Mutants and it's probably the separation from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that allows it that freedom. Having these mutants be beholden to the world that Marvel and Disney have created could be stifling. Marvel Studios is like a well-oiled machine at this point, yes, and its film and television schedule is planned, meticulously, years in advance. But what this means is that there’s little room for error or experimentation. Outside of anomalies like Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy, each film manages to maintain the same tone and visual aesthetic. With Marvel, you know what you’re going to get. The same goes with Pixar. Or Disney's rabid obsession with turning all of their animated films into “live-action” ones instead of making new animated classics.
Fox's problems with their Marvel franchises can be fixed in-house. 1.) Get rid of X-Men director and producer Bryan Singer; at this point, we've had enough of his vision and it’s bordering on repetitive. 2.) Put some respect on the Fantastic Four's name, one of Marvel's greatest comic book franchises. The success of Legion opens the door for a killer Fantastic Four television series, where it would probably do much better than it has in bloated blockbusters. 3.) Give Storm her own fucking movie. If this one doesn't happen soon, then I'm going to be signing a petition to let Disney do whatever it wants with Fox.