It's a very slow day today at the office, so I found myself perusing Bleedingcool.com a bit reading about the goings on at Marvel and around comics in general. I've heard rumors about big changes in store for the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, and now it appears that we may have an idea of where these teams are going (or not going) once the revamped Marvel U is unveiled.
There will be spoilers ahead, you have been warned so don't cry to me if you keep reading.
First to the Fantastic Four. I was never a big fan of the FF when I was a kid, but as I've gotten older I've developed and appreciation for what the FF brought to the Marvel U. I still think a lot of the stories are hokey and goofy, but there's a sense of wonder and innocence in the early tales that is really hard to come by today (though you can still get that feel from the Guardians of the Galaxy...or at least I do). The FF has been a cornerstone of the Marvel U pretty much since the beginning. It's hard to imagine Marvel without Reed and the gang galivanting around the world and the cosmos battling aliens, monsters, and super-villains with fisticuffs and super-science...well, get ready, the FF are about to be no more. It's no secret that Marvel has had a rough relationship with Fox, who owns the movie rights to the Fantastic Four (and the X-Men). Two crappy movies, and what looks and sounds like a third on the way and little to no desire to cooperate like Sony (who own the movie rights to Spidey) has, has forced Marvel to play hardball the only way they can: by wiping out the team in the new universe. (See the story here, but be wary of spoilers.) The book is ending it's storied run, and there will be little merchandising for the team beyond trade paperbacks. The characters will still be part of the MU (or at least most of them), but they are going to be part of different teams.
As for the X-Men, the movie rights are also owned by Fox, but unlike the FF the X-Men are still big sellers for Marvel/Disney. The X-Men will still have their own book(s), but they will be living somewhere else in the cosmos. (Read about all of this here.) This doesn't feel quite as jarring of a change since the X-Men have had an element of spaciness to it since the beginning of the Chris Claremont run, and recent events between the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy have pointed the team in that direction as well. The Inhumans are hoped to take the place of the mighty mutants on Earth however. They'll still be part of the Universe, but they won't have much interaction with it. Like the FF, Marvel is pulling the lisences for X-Men toys, models, and so on as well. So again, playing hardball the only way they can: limiting brand prominence in the comics in hopes of de-valuing the brand for Fox.
It's highly speculated that the new Marvel U will look a lot more like the Cinematic Universe. Marvel/Disney would love all of their characters to be a part of that universe. Really, the recent Marvel movies have been great, so I'd love to see what they could do with Spider-Man, the FF, and the X-Men (though other than X3 and Origins: Wolverine Fox has done fairly well with the X-Men franchise...the FF...not so much). This is among one of the things that is really kind of putting me off on the new vision of the Marvel Universe. I realize that Marvel/Disney wants to maximize profits, and they have every right to do so, and they may even be able to pull off the changes to the FF and X-Men in a way that doesn't frankly suck, but the reasons behind these changes are always going to suck and have nothing to do with the comics themselves. Good thing that Sony is allowing use of Spider-Man in small doses, otherwise there may not be a Peter Parker in the new Marvel U...which may be why there are so many other Spider-folk running about.
In the end, I really do hope that Marvel/Disney are able to one again get the rights to all of their franchises back from Sony and Fox. Many of the movies for Spidey have been alright to great (ASM2 and SM3 notwithstanding) like most of the X-Men movies have been good. It's obvious that Fox doesn't know what to do with the Fantastic Four (we'll see how the new movie goes, but it's doesn't sound promising at all), and with there not being a FF book on the racks at all, one would think that Fox will finally relent and sell the right back. Plus, the FF aren't as popular as the X-Men, and haven't been for 30 years now (if not longer), so that brand value will likely only continue to deteriorate if the next movie flops and there isn't a dedicated FF book to keep it in the public eye. Spidey will be tougher to get back since the movies make money even if they aren't always that great. The X-Men...right now Fox is doing alright with their strange universe, but we'll see what happens after X-Men: Apocalypse. As least they aren't completely screwing that up like the FF.