One of the biggest film news stories of this year, without doubt, has to be the acquisition of tonnes of Fox assets by Disney. For people like myself, the most exciting part of this is that Disney has now regained the rights for many of their Marvel characters who were previously sold to Fox before Marvel Studios was formed and became the box-office over-performer it is now.
This leads to hundreds of questions about how the studio will move forward with developing these comic-adapted properties, some of which have been actively in production by Fox, most especially the ‘X-Men’ franchise and ‘Deadpool’.
Marvel Studios is the semi-autonomous Disney-owned studio that makes all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), all of which have been made for a MPAA rating no higher than PG-13. With the recent Fox successes of ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’, Marvel Studio head honcho Kevin Feige and others were asked if Marvel Studios would go down a similar route. The answer was a firm no, it was stated very clearly to be a direction Disney did not want to take the MCU.
However, with Disney now buying back the X-Men and Deadpool from Fox and with films such as ‘Deadpool 2’ being in production, the question was raised again in the new context of these productions being something the company was now involved in and sure to release, despite not being a choice they may have made themselves.
The response was just as clear but wholly different.
Bob Iger said that there would be a place for the more mature material in the newly expanded MCU as long as they could warn audiences what to expect. “It clearly has been and will be Marvel branded,” he said in a conference call, “but we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”
He’s a smart guy. To kill this new trend dead would cut off huge potential successes, the box-office of ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’ prove that with ease. So, to make a secondary Marvel studio brand, a banner under which these mature movies can be released is a great idea for them. I don’t think ‘Marvel-R’ is it though.
They should brand this new offshoot something like ‘Marvel-X’. This would work well as a distinctive brand under which to develop films like the ‘Logan’ sequel ‘Laura’ and ‘Deadpool 2’. It’s a lot less on the nose than ‘Marvel-R’ and while not just sounding cooler, the ‘X’ makes sense as these are primarily X-Men spin-off films and the letter ‘X’ has long been strongly connected with mature material so it gets the message across easily and clearly. Also, there would be the potential for that offshoot brand to take on other X-Men characters, even those already established in the Fox continuity, so that they could just pick up where Fox left off for those films that are worth seeing through to completion and release, while still keeping it as a separate entity from the main MCU, for now, until they are ready to reboot or merge those properties into the already huge roster of characters their universe features.
Either way, it’s happening, Marvel Studios will be taking back control on all those characters both well-served or not by their time under the control of Fox. It remains to be seen whether an R-rated trend continues, or if under Disney and Marvel’s strong hand it’s gently toned down until it again becomes something other studios are peppering in the comic movies landscape while Marvel keep their focus on box-office domination by welcoming the whole family to watch together.