Bleeding Cool has long reported on the ongoing war between Marvel and Fox over the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, but the war is actually even older than time itself. No, wait, it’s not older than time itself, but it is older than Bleeding Cool. Marvel sold the rights to Fox back in the 90s, when the comic book business was slowly imploding, but the first major skirmish in the conflict came with 2001’s Mutant X television series from Marvel, which aimed to work around Fox’s ownership of the property, which was of course a totally different concept about Mutants called X… Men. Marvel eventually settled a lawsuit with Fox over the matter, but the show was canceled in 2003, ending with a cliffhanger.
In 2013, the companies openly feuded over the character Quicksilver, who both studios announced would appear in then-upcoming films X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Then, in 2014, Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter ramped up his war with the rival entertainment corporation with a series of moves apparently designed to diminish the stature of the Fantastic Four and X-Men in all areas under which Marvel controlled the rights. This has included cancelling Fantastic Four comics, reducing the prominence of the characters in Marvel’s comics, and disallowing any merchandise or licensed products featuring either group. As a replacement for the X-Men, Marvel has been trying really hard to make vaguely similar property The Inhumans happen, to vary degrees of success.
Just a year later, however, Perlmutter found himself fighting a war on two fronts (three, if you include the battle against with billionaire neighbor Harold Peerenboom which involved both the alleged theft of DNA and the alleged sending of pedophilia letters to local residents and anti-semitic letters to prisoners). Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige began a late Summer campaign against Perlmutter when he freed Marvel Studios from the control of the Marvel Creative Committee, an elite cabal of Marvel Entertainment businessmen, talent, and Brian Bendis who meticulously controlled the Marvel Universe up until that point. With Perlmutter on the defensive, Feige followed up by canceling Ike’s beloved Inhumans movie, officially kicking off the Marvel Civil War. Ike’s Marvel eventually announced an Inhumans TV show, which will air its first two episodes in Imax movie theaters.
Recently, it seemed like tensions might be cooling between Fox and Marvel, with Marvel even announcing a “meat and potatoes” X-Men relaunch (though the Fantastic Four are still nowhere to be found), but it’s not time to put away your rulers yet, because this contest to measure certain appendages which we cannot name on a family site like Bleeding Cool isn’t over yet! Recent developments make clear that the war continues on a new battlefield: the realm of superhero show casting announcements. It seems absurd, but what about any of this seems sane so far, and besides, look at the indisputable chain of events:
Marvel decides to make an Inhumans TV show, and Fox announces an X-Men TV show soon after (though you first heard about it on Bleeding Cool- pip pip). Marvel reveals that Roel Reine will direct the pilot of their show. Fox says that Bryan Singer will direct theirs. Marvel annexes 3700 acres in Hawaii to film their show. Blair Redford joins the X-Men cast. Marvel gets Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon. Fox brings True Blood’s Stephen Moyer. Marvel counters with LOST star Anson Mount. Fox announces Incorporated star Sean Teale. Marvel sees their Sean Teale and raises them Smallville’s Serinda Swand. Fox fires back with Gotham’s Natalie Alyn Lind.
It’s clear that Marvel and Fox have been engaged in a vicious secret PR firefight right in front of us this whole time, and it’s only a matter of time before the stakes are raised even higher in this age-old war that seems to have no end in sight.