Comics on Film has been keeping a very close eye on the unfolding saga concerning the Walt Disney Company's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which is of particular interest to comic book movie fans because of Fox's ownership over a few key Marvel Comics-based franchises, which include the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four.
As long as the tumultuous story has been unfolding, it's been easy for Marvel fans to get excited about the possibility of the Avengers and the X-Men occupying the same screen at the same time or Peter Parker and Tony Stark getting to pick the mammoth intellect of Reed Richards.
It was inevitable for Disney to consolidate the properties of Marvel Comics under the guiding hand of the brand's film studio, but oddly enough, the internet seems to be reacting with very predictable surprise. The truth of the matter, though, is that there was never really a question surrounding the consolidation of Marvel properties under the umbrella of the successful studio behind the likes of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War .
What Other Choice Is There?
Since its generally-agreed upon genesis at the beginning of the 1960s, the Marvel Comics Universe has always worked well when the characters have open borders to interact in each other's stories. No real rights issues prevent Wolverine from being a member of the Avengers, or Spider-Man from being good friends with the Fantastic Four's Human Torch. Since 1984, giant crossover events have thrown all the characters together to stop cosmic-level calamity, and fans have eaten those stories up for just as long.
That's not to say that the comic book stories don't have some natural borders in and of themselves. Before 2012, the Marvel Universe could very easily be bisected into two pretty disparate worlds: the one belonging to the Avengers and the one belonging to the X-Men. In 2012, though, Marvel Comics started to dabble with integrating them far more directly, with the introduction of a massive event series with the rather on-the-nose title of Avengers vs. X-Men , commonly referred to by fans as AvX .
The first decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be evoking much of pre-2012 21st century Marvel, largely because of the lack of access that Marvel Studios would have to characters like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
So, since the nearly-impossible seems to actually be coming to pass, why is anyone feigning surprise at the hint of a consolidation of the larger film franchises? While the X-Men very much stand in their own right as a solid multimedia franchise, the immense potential presented by unifying those two major, disparate worlds on film for the very first time would likely be far too enticing to ignore.
What Bob Iger Said
The news-making story that has been getting more coverage than even the most pernicious political gaffe is a single answer to a short question given to The Hollywood Reporter when asked about a number of topics currently being juggled by the Walt Disney Company, specifically, "How is Marvel going to absorb Fox’s X-Men franchise? Is Kevin Feige going to oversee everything?"
Iger very logically replied: "I think it only makes sense. I want to be careful here because of what's been communicated to the Fox folks, but I think they know. It only makes sense for Marvel to be supervised by one entity. There shouldn't be two Marvels."
Iger likely knows all too well that the thought he expressed on that topic, particularly his final sentence, is a phrase that Marvel fans have been screaming at the tops of their lungs at least since 2011’s X-Men: First Class . As superhero animation creator and producer Bruce Timm once said, "Fans just like to see their heroes teamed up. There’s something undeniably attractive about that."
Incorporating Homo superior
So, the question then becomes one of introduction: how, in the now well-trodden world(s) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, can the studio introduce a concept as wide and far-reaching as the X-Men into the existing fabric? Perhaps they’ve been there the whole time, quietly working to protect a world that hates and fears them behind the scenes? Maybe people just don't really know about the mutant community yet, and those born with the X-gene have been living in secret for years?
Maybe some characters we already know in the MCU are mutants already? Introducing the general themes of bigotry that the X-Men and mutants at-large have to contend with may be a generally easy thing to do, especially since the events of Age of Ultron and Civil War indicate a degree of public mistrust of superpowered beings like the Hulk and Captain America. Either way, it should prove fascinating to see exactly how the X-Men will ultimately be folded into the larger fabric of the MCU, likely only enriching the shared world that has already become so vast with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange .
So … who wants to bet that the next major MCU event film will be Avengers vs. X-Men ? I know I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.
Chris Clow is a comics expert/former retailer, and pop culture critic/commentator. He hosts two podcasts: Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast and Comics on Consoles . Find his column "Comics on Film" weekly at Movies.com , and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow