Hollywood, like all things, is a business. Sure, people want to make movies, but people also want those movies to make them millions, dare I say it, billions of dollars. Take a studio like Marvel. In 2008 they launched their “Marvel Cinematic Universe” with Iron Man and nailed it. Since then, it has been rather tough for any rival studio to replicate their success, critically at least. A personal favourite of mine, Chris Claremont, was the main writer of the X-Men in the 1990s. In fact, his X-Men #1 from 1991 is (still) the highest selling American comic book ever. The X-Men brand in the 90s also meant a significant amount with toys, TV shows, clothing lines, etc. The X-Men were everywhere.
Flashforward to 2016, and we have none of that. The last X-Men themed toy line was based on the 2009 TV show Wolverine & The X-Men. Since that year, we have had 5 more movies in the franchise, and no merchandise based on either of them. If you look at the comic book world, the franchise is not fairing so well either. In case you missed it, Marvel are trying to axe off all the X-Men so that the Inhumans can be the new ‘Mutants.’ Wonder why? In a new interview with the previously introduced Chris Claremont, the writer sat down and discussed his frustration with how the X-Men are being treated, and why they are being brushed to the side:
“That has nothing to do with comic sales, that has everything to do with the fact that the film rights are controlled by a rival corporation. I guarantee you that if 10 years ago, when Marvel was approached by Disney, if the X-Men film rights were owned by Marvel Studios and not Fox the X-Men would probably still be the paramount book in the canon. The reason for the emphasis on the other titles is because Marvel / Disney control the ancillary film rights whereas all the film rights for the FF- the Fantastic Four – and the X-Men are controlled by Fox who has no interest in the comic books. So I think the corporate publishing attitude is: “why would we go out of our way to promote a title that will benefit a rival corporation’s films when we could take that same energy and enthusiasm and focus and do it for our own properties?” Hence the rise of the Inhumans as the new equivalent of the mutants. I could wish for something else but it ain’t my 5 billion dollars.”
It is hard to fault him or his opinion, as he is simply so correct. When the writer continued, he brought in an argument many fans have believed for years:
“It’s not a matter of promotion, it’s purely a matter of ownership. If at some point Fox decides that the X-Men properties are no longer lucrative I’m sure that they will cut a deal with Disney. But I also expect that the deal they would want to cut would be extra-ordinarily expensive and Disney or Marvel might just as easily say “screw it” we love the X-Men but we are not going to hurt ourselves to get it because we have our other properties that we own that are doing far better. If you want to give it back or take a reasonable deal that’s one thing, if you’re just going to go crazy screw you.”
As someone who grew up in the 1990s with Fox’s brilliant X-Men cartoon, it sucks to see the characters cast out so often (and not in a narrative manner). Hopefully, Marvel’s relaunch of the X-Men franchise up again with solo-series’ for Iceman, Jean Grey, Weapon X (Wolverine) as well as Deadpool 2 star, Cable, means the property will get some much needed respect again.
What do you guys think of Claremont’s comments? Are you in agreement, or do you disagree? Would you like to see the X-Men join the pantheon of heroes in the MCU or are you happy with them inhabiting their own little planet over at Fox?