X-Men: Homecoming?

Age of the Geek Column: Last week I wrote about the media behemoth that is the Walt Disney Company, lamenting that the company can throw its considerable weight around without much fear of reprisal. After all, what am I going to do if I don't like what Disney is doing as a company? Not see the next Star Wars or Marvel Studios movie?

That's not going to happen.

Of course, just as I had finished up that column and sent it out, my news feeds got hit with reports that Disney had been in negotiations to buyout the bulk of 21st Century Fox, which would add even more weight to the company's arsenal of entertainment properties.

Buying up Fox's movie studio and its various holdings would be a major addition to Disney's collection of licenses. The Ice Age franchise is among the few successful animated franchises not already owned by Disney and it would put the Mouse in control of not just Alien and Terminator, but also James Cameron's next four Avatar films.

Most importantly though, buying Fox would accomplish a longstanding goal of Marvel Entertainment by returning the film and merchandising rights of the X-Men franchise.

Long before Marvel Studios made The Avengers into household names, characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were B-list at best. For four decades the two pillars that held up the Marvel Universe were The X-Men and Spider-Man, and when Hollywood came calling, these were the franchises they used to re-introduce the movie going public to super heroes.

The success that Marvel Studios has achieved since they've begun making their own movies cannot be overstated, but the road that Iron Man drives to the bank on was paved by the X-Men and Spider-Man. In 2008, Iron Man was a C-List character with so little commercial value that New Line Cinema purchased the movie rights from Fox in 1999 and then sold them back to Marvel in 2006 without ever doing anything with them. Most of the characters featured in Marvel Studios films have similar stories. For years the movie rights to comic book characters with even a hint of popularity were traded around Hollywood like playing cards.

Since the success of Iron Man, and the greater MCU though, Marvel Studios has been on a quest to bring their wayward characters back home. Rumor has it that Disney has offered to outright buy Sony Pictures in order to reclaim everybody's favorite wall-crawler, but it seems that with "Spider-Man: Homecoming" the studios have agreed to a form of joint custody.

Marvel's relationship with Fox, however, has been less amicable. Marvel really wants their X-Men back and have gone to absurdly petty lengths to get them. For years now there has been a drought of X-Men and Fantastic Four (whose rights are also held by Fox) merchandise as Marvel has gone out of their way to deny exposure to Fox owned properties, even to the point of omitting them from t-shirt prints of classic comic art.

Even within the books, Marvel has sought to replace their mutants with Inhumans as their go-to population of random people born with super-powers. In one of their more heavy-handed retcons, Marvel even declared that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, two Avengers that had been mutants since their first appearance, were no longer the children of mutant super-villain Magneto, but instead Inhumans.

But at least Marvel's mutants still have books, which is more than the Fantastic Four can say. Marvel's First Family have been without a book of their own since 2015.

All of this would undoubtedly change if Marvel no longer had to surrender a cut of movie and merchandise profits to Fox, but would it be worth it for the consumer?

Many a comic book fan has longed to see Marvel Studios regain control of the X-Men, but I am unconvinced that would end well. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done very well without the X-Men and the X-Men have done… alright… segregated from the rest of Marvel's properties. From a storytelling standpoint, it's always been hard to reconcile that the X-Men live in a world that hates and fears them while the Avengers are hailed as Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

I'd love to see what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios would create if they were given the opportunity to start a new cinematic X-Men universe from scratch, but that's probably not in the cards. If Marvel Studios were to regain the rights to the X-Men, you'd see Wolverine in the next Avengers movie so fast it would make your head spin.

But Wolverine has been an Avenger in the comics since 2005 and, to my knowledge, his addition has yet to result in a single interesting story.

It'd be nice if Marvel would stop abusing the Fantastic Four and it's been far too long since there's been an X-Men animated series, but as far as movies go I think the X-Men and the MCU are better off without each other.

Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and really would like to see the X-Men get another animated series though…