It’s official: Disney has officially bought out Fox. This obviously means a lot of things to a lot of people. And, don’t worry, we’ll get to all of them before too long: who owns what, who ‘s suddenly redundant in the companies’ infrastructure, what movies are getting canned and what’s suddenly getting elevated to the star treatment.
A lot of peoples’ favorite franchises just changed to a very different set of hands. Will Disney strike those terrible Prometheus movies from the official canon? Will we finally get Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5? Will Alien: Isolation get a big screen adaptation? What’s going on with all of those Avatar sequels now? Will The Simpsons now, finally, end? The future is anybody’s guess at this point.
Undoubtedly, at least for Marvel Studios, the crown jewel is the return of the outstanding Marvel properties to their cinematic toolbox. By all accounts, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now complete, and we can finally see everything from Wolverine as an Avenger to House of Men to Avengers vs X-Men in the same shared continuity.
The problem, of course, is that Fox has taken the X-Men franchise in a decidedly more “adult” direction that is typically within Disney’s comfort zone. Deadpool and Logan were massive successes specifically because Fox gave their creative teams the leeway to make the kinds of movies that the franchises wanted to be: that is, R-rated gross-out comedies and R-rated genre deconstructions respectively. Neither movie would have worked as a streamline, family-friendly, PG-13 hug-fest, because that’s not what those characters – and, by extension, those movies – were meant to be at their core.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the fate of Deadpool 2. Sequel to the Ryan Reynolds gross-out comedy and one of the best movies of last year, the highly anticipated sequel is a lot of peoples’ most anticipated movie of next year. The understandable fear was that, having now acquired Fox, Disney might scrap the movie for no-longer being “on brand” for them. Or, worse still, they might tone it down to fit more comfortably into the MCU.
Fear not, though, Deadpool fans. Disney is far too interested in making money to bother with what an obvious box office success’ MPAA rating is. Speaking on the subject of the companies’ merger, Disney executive Bob Iger expressed not just a desire to keep it rated R, but to keep the franchise going into the foreseeable future. Specifically, he mentioned that “There may be an opportunity for an R-rated Marvel brand as long as we let audiences know what’s coming.”
This is exactly like the MCU’s Netflix series. Characters like Jessica Jones and Frank Castle might not be appropriate for the bright lights of the Avengers’ latest adventures, but they’re perfect for the dark, street-level peripheries of the brand. Stories like those in Daredevil and Luke Cage might be a bit much for Marvel’s younger viewers, but older audiences – aware of exactly what they’re getting into when they start watching – love them.
To this end, “Fox” might eventually become shorthand for Disney’s more “adult” movie offerings. It might be where the Deadpools and Wolverines and Xenomorphs and Predators of the Disney-verse lurk: safely out of reach of children, but there for the brave and the adventurous. It doesn’t even mean that Deadpool can’t or won’t be in the MCU. I guarantee you that he absolutely will, in fact. An glib, off-hand reference to the Disney-Fox merger, a quip about finally have Disney money to work with, maybe the occasional Iron Man or Spider-Man team-up, and that’s it. The movies, as is, fit into that same, R-rated sphere of the MCU that’s always sat just under the surface of the movies.
So don’t expect much to change in Deadpool 2. A quick reshoot for a few choice jokes at Disney’s / Marvel’s / Fox’s expense, a gussied-up title card, maybe a post-credit cameo from one of Marvel’s heavy-hitters, that’s all the changes likely to come to the movie. Disney wants those Deadpool dollars just as much as Fox did.