Back in 2000, Artisan Entertainment made a deal with Marvel. A deal that would bring Deadpool to the big screen. For the next 16 years, Deadpool received setback after setback. Until July 2014. During Comic-con 2014, test footage for what a Deadpool movie could look like was released. The rest was history.
As of this writing, Deadpool has made 745+ million dollars worldwide at the box office and is the 2nd highest grossing R-rated film ever. Needless to say, Deadpool is a hit. 745+ million dollars is an impressive amount of money to begin with. This is made all the more impressive when you realize the obstacles in it’s way.
First, it was made on a 58 million dollar budget. Which is basically pocket change compared to most superhero films, including solo-hero films. Second, it’s rated R. Since R films have a smaller audience to draw from, they just don’t have the potential profit pools other films do. Third and final, the character itself is both relatively unheard of by larger audiences and deeply loved by comic book fans everywhere.
These three things that stood in it’s way, are also the things that made it successful in truth. Coincidentally, they are also the things that Hollywood will get wrong. Superhero movies these days are made with huge budgets. Ant-man the previous solo-entry for superhero had a 130 million dollar budget. Iron-man was made with a 140 million dollar budget. Man of Steel had a 225 million dollar budget. This doesn’t even account the big team up films which are at least 220 million dollars, if not potentially double that.
It’s pretty easy to see why a small budget could hamper a film. For Deadpool, I believe it helped. The last time Deadpool showed up in a film, he was outright hated by fans. So this time around it was important they got the core/heart of the character right. If they had a bigger budget, the filmmakers could have gotten away with a weaker script. Hell, the last Transformers movie made over a billion dollars. Which I think we can all agree had a pretty weak script. It’s already a proven fact that explosions are universal. No translation required. Hence, a bigger international audience to pool from.
However, since the Deadpool crew had a smaller budget, they needed a good script. They needed the humor to be right, the story to make sense, and to make the right people happy. The fact they were able to go R-rated let them make Deadpool right. He’s a violent mercenary who is called the merc with the mouth that’s constantly running. While you could do a PG-13 version, like many upset parents wanted, it simply would not be as good. It might still be kind of chuckle funny but again, since you’re already dealing with a smaller budget you need every advantage you can get.
One advantage, and arguably the biggest, is the fans. If your word-of-mouth is negative, people won’t go see your movie. I know, ground-breaking, right? So now, you have to please a fanbase that is known to be pretty picky about their superhero flicks and, are still cautious after the last time they saw a movie version of Deadpool. Thankfully, the team behind Deadpool pulled it off. They made an original movie for the fans of the character. This, right here, is what Hollywood is going to get wrong.
Hollywood exec’s will look at Deadpool‘s success and try to copy it. In fact, it’s already started. Batman v Superman will have an R-rated directors cut. Wolverine 3 is rumored to now be R-rated and who know’s what else we’ll see pop-up. What Hollywood is missing is the fact Deadpool was made for Deadpool fans. They had an impressive understanding of why people like Deadpool and then made that movie. They didn’t try to alter Deadpool audiences, nor tone it down, or simplify the humor. No, the filmmakers made a Deadpool movie for Deadpool fans. It just so happens the best version of Deadpool is a R-rated films.
Since Deadpool was so faithful to it’s fanbase, Deadpool was then carried and supported by it. Since the fans loved it so much, they went at told their non/semi-fan friends. After seeing it, they recognized how different and just all around good the movie was and then told their friends. Thus the circle continues. What Deadpool ultimately teaches us is that movies can’t be made on an assembly line. Well, technically movies could, they’re just generally not going to be very good.
Instead of studios making films that have the fans in mind. We will get a few Deadpool copycats with other films simply changing beloved characters or properties to fit a broader, more general audience. This also doesn’t take into account the amazingly on-point marketing strategy Deadpool had.
20th Century Fox has finally given us our first look at Fantastic Four. In the wake of the first trailer release, there have been many breakdowns that pull the trailer apart. While normally this is my first step, I decided to take a different route. I had this idea while watching the trailer that would bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Fox’s Universe (FU, yep that’s what I’m gonna call it) together. It dives pretty deep into comic lore so grab that red pill and lets see how far the rabbit hole goes.
It all starts with the new Fantastic Four (FF) movie. The reboot will draw more of its inspiration from the Ultimate Universe. The cliff notes, the Ultimate Universe is a modern retelling of the Marvel Universe. Most heroes are younger and the whole superhero phenomenon started in the 2000’s. Origins largely stayed the same with a few tweaks here and there. For instance, the original FF gained their powers after being exposed to radiation in space. The Ultimate FF gained their powers after exposure to the N-Zone or Negative Zone. The N-Zone is another dimension where physics are fundamentally different. This is the route that the new FF movie will take. This is the tipping point so you better hold on.
The N-Zone is parallel to the normal universe. It is often used as a bridge for cosmic villains to try and conquer the Earth or as a base of operations. Heck, even Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, leader of the FF) and Tony Stark built a prison their to hold super powered humans during Civil War. This is where my whole idea/plan/theory/geek delusion begins. What if Fox and Marvel used the N-Zone as a bridge between their universes. This discovery would eventually lead to a massive crossover. From the FU, the FF would make the discovery of other dimensions. On the MCU side of things, we would have Dr. Strange. Kevin Feige has already gone on record that Dr. Strange will deal with alternate dimensions. A little reference to the FU universe would be all that it would take to get the ball rolling.
While we need a bridge to physically connect the universes, we also need a villain. In comes Kang the Conqueror, a time traveler who seems perfectly poised to interact with both. You see, Kang is from the 30th century where he is obsessed with history. In this pursuit he discovers the time travel technology created by Dr. Doom, we’ll come back to him in a sec. Kang then travels back in time in a Sphinx shaped ship to ancient Egypt. His goal is to claim En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse. If Apocalypse sounds familiar, that’s because he will be the next villain that the X-Men face in their next movie. After he travels back in time he is confronted by the FF and eventually defeated.
Now back to Dr. Doom. Doom is the arch nemesis of the FF and more intimately Reed Richards. In the comics, Doom is practically an unparalleled genius and is a larger villain for the entire Marvel Universe. He is the ruler of the fictional Eastern European country Latveria. The new movie is changing up his origin by turning him into a hacker whose handle is Doom. This has caused some major backlash from the geek community since it seemed to turn Doom into an anti-social hacker with very little bravado. This interpretation is very different from the Doom we know and love. His manner can best be compared to a combination of Khan (Star Trek: Into Darkness) and Loki. Some might disagree but Doom has literally stood up to gods and declared his sovereignty which he then actually enforces. Awesome, right?
Why he is important to us is for his time travel tech and his connection to Kang. You see at one point, it was thought that Kang was a descendant of Doom. The comics have since made this unclear but it is still there nonetheless. So here we have a villain who is pretty intimately tied to both franchises owned by Fox. What about the MCU’s heroes? I’m so glad you asked!
Fairly recently, back in a 2010 there was a Marvel comics event called Realm of Kings. Essentially you had the Inhumans locked in galactic combat with another empire. They detonated a bomb that created a tear in space-time and gave entry to another universe. A universe where “Life has won, Death has lost” and is subsequently infested with creatures that have infested the universe. Labeled the Cancerverse, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who had been dealing with similar tears, along with other cosmic heroes set out to close the tear. Welcome to comics ladies and gentleman. At one the Guardians of the Galaxy are sent spiraling through time where they meet Kang. This is a future version of the character is interested in helping the Guardians. We’ll come back to this, just know that Kang has very recently been involved with some of movie heroes.
So what would this look like in film? Well since Fox’s plans for X-men and FF are a little less known, let’s start on their side. What I would like to see is to have their universe first take on Annihilus. To put it simply, Annihilus is the big bad ruler of the N-Zone. Incredibly powerful, he would be a very good threat for the FF to take on for their first story arc. There could even be a little crossover with X-men. Some of the X-men could help the FF in battling Annihilus. During however many films this arc would encompass, we would get little tidbits of Doom. Think of it this way, Doom would be gathering power and tech for his time travel machine. Through his conquests he naturally comes into conflict with the FF. He wouldn’t be the main villain and he would often manipulate the FF to aid in his conquests. Whether this was directly or indirectly doesn’t really matter.
The second story arc would place Doom front and center. Using his power and tech that he has been gathering to essentially wage war against the world. The FF would lead the charge and things could crossover with the X-men. For instance, Doom could team up with someone like the High Evolutionary or some other baddie of the X-Men. What would be a cool twist on a character is to have Doom team up with Forge. Forge is a mutant whose power is literally to invent. In the Ultimate universe, Forge is described as being able to create whatever he can think of. In either universe, Forge has always been a little less than a hero. Having Forge be villain wouldn’t be too far of a stretch in my opinion.
While the FF are doing their thing, we would get a host of X-men movies while set in the same universe, aren’t explicitly connected. Instead we would get films that explore more and more X-men. In a perfect world, we would see Forge as a manipulator of the X-men. Then in the final film we would see a crossover where the FF and X-men would fight both Doom and Forge. At this point it is also revealed that they have developed a time machine. At the end of the final film we would get a little teaser of Kang in the future discovering the tech.
Now that we have tackled Fox’s side of things, lets look at the MCU. Obviously, the Kang stuff would have to start after Infinity War in 2019 or 2020. My thought is that after this war, we see these tears appear. The earth heroes would go home and they would face their own villains, possibly the Masters of Evil. Basically, the Masters of Evil are the anti-Avengers. Put together by Baron Zemo, set to appear in Captain America: Civil War, to fight the Avengers. On the cosmic side of things, we would see the Guardians of the Galaxy taking care of these tears in space-time. We would also get introduced to Adam Warlock. Regardless of all this speculation, I think we will see Adam on the big screen. To put it simply, he is space Gandalf who has historically been tied to the Infinity Gauntlet and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Most recently, Adam was helping the Guardians of the Galaxy seal these tears in the comics. This all happened during the Realm of Kings arc which I mentioned earlier. Things are about to get real confusing so hold on. In an attempt to seal the last tear, Adam becomes his evil alter ego, the Magus. Magus is an evil version of Adam who rules a religious empire known as the Universal Church of Truth. In all this madness some of the Guardians are sent sailing through various timelines, until they meet Kang. Now this is a future Kang who wishes to stop The Magus. Kang’s motivation is to stop The Magus from becoming the evil in all timelines. He helps the Guardians by giving them a weapon to help defeat Magus and stop the current future from happening.
For the movie side of things, I hope they have The Magus as the big baddie for the second story arc regardless of what I say here. He could have a hand in forming the Masters of Evil and could be the next big cosmic threat. In my plan, the final confrontation with The Magus would be after our heroes run-in with Kang. He first gives them the power to fight Magus and also gives them a warning. A warning that his younger self is coming and to prepare. To make sure that this wouldn’t be completely unexpected, we would have him be a villain for a solo film. I would make it Dr. Strange. While Kang is a time traveler, he is also a dimension hopper. He could masquerade as a sorcerer until the end of the film when Dr. Strange discovers Kang’s “magic” is simply future tech.
All through both universes we would get little hints that there are other dimensions out there. Whether they be similar or vastly different. It wouldn’t take much across all these films. The key being subtle enough where it doesn’t overtake each movies plot. These hints and easter eggs would culminate in a final button scene. Here we see the FF finally crossover into the MCU. Or Dr. Strange appears to the FF. Either way doesn’t matter much to me. We would then get a trilogy of films called the Kang Dynasty. First film we see the Fox’s heroes take on Kang. The second would have Marvel heroes battling Kang. The third and final film would give us a massive crossover that would be on a completely different scale then we have ever seen.
Two final notes. First, superhero films will eventually hit critical mass. It’s the inherent problem with sequels and franchises. You always have to up the ante from the previous film. My plan would lead to that escalation. Plus, with all the time travel hijinks you could feasibly reset everything and start over. Not only that, but this whole thing would take awhile and studio cooperation unseen in this genre of films. I do fully expect that my dreams will not be realized but oh well. I do hope, that we will at least see some of my ideas on the big screen.
Second, there is still Sony to consider. They have Spider-Man who in comics just went through a dimension hopping extravaganza himself. Spidey’s fate is still up in the air, but what if he were to come back to Marvel? That’s a conversation for another time. Maybe next week.