Across the globe, recognizable brands pop up on every street corner, making it more challenging to have a genuine local experience. In a case of art mirroring life, movies are shadowing the shrinking state of the world by linking franchises together into one slick, cohesive cash-generating blob. The interconnectedness of it showcases staggering ambition.
During the Sony hack last year, a series of emails chronicled the development of a possible 22 Jump Street-Men In Black crossover. Both titles are owned by Sony, so it’s not difficult to see why the concept was explored as a way to generate income from pre-existing ideas. However, that’s nothing compared to the direction movie franchise synergy is headed. In the last few days, rumors concerning the marriage of several major comic book film series could cause intriguing ripple effects on the rest of the industry. This latest bunch deal with two Marvel properties that Fox owns the rights to: X-Men and Fantastic Four.
The infamous production troubles on the latter have been blamed entirely on its director Josh Trank, whose on-and-off-set antics strongly suggest that he won’t be back to helm a sequel. Apparently, after work on X-Men: Apocalypse is complete, Fox wants director Bryan Singer and producer Simon Kinberg to charge forward on Fantastic Four 2. This would harmonise Fox’s brand of Marvel movies enabling the two superhero groups to unite for a crossover event movie in 2018. That’s not the first time this matter has hit weblines — in December 2014, another leaked Sony email hinted at the very same goal. Of course, if the two do crossover, and it proves to be a hit, the floodgates open for an even more worrisome prospect. An X-Men/Avengers movie in 2020.
To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park - there’s lot of “can we?” instead of “should we?” to such a mind-boggling hypothetical scenario. Yes, this is still simmering in the nascent stages of rumortown. But if Sony and Marvel could bury the hatchet and hammer out a deal for Spider-Man, what’s to stop Fox and Marvel from striking a similar compromise?
Marvel chief Kevin Feige hasn’t ruled it out. Neither has X-Men producer Lauren Donner. Even Hugh Jackman, who swears he’s done playing Wolverine after the next solo movie, reckons it could happen now more than ever. On the one hand, this type of maneuver benefits two obvious parties: the studios, who stand to reap profits; and hardcore fans, who have always wanted to see their favorite comic book heroes side-by-side onscreen. It fails to accommodate the moviegoers who aren’t au fait with that time Spider-Man turned up uninvited at Reed Richards’ party and beat the shit out of him. There’s a large percentage of the public who either aren’t familiar with, or aren’t interested in, films created to service a niche market. There’s a strong argument along those lines to explain Terminator Genisys’ poor box office performance. On the other hand, the idea of two recognizable characters — or teams of characters — joining forces is just damn cool.
It’s not as if it’s anything new, though.
Or exclusive to cinema.
In theory, stuffing a movie with multiple properties is akin to crossing the streams. It could be horrendous. Or the result could be exactly what was promised. It’s a little like making a scientific breakthrough — the laws by which we previously abided no longer stand, making way for a new stage in the evolution of entertainment. Boundaries are demolished. Concepts become intertwined. What we knew before is now 50% bigger.
But it’s not always better.
Alien Vs. Predator consolidates two unstoppable designs for success. There’s two established figureheads, and it’s based on a [comic book](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AliensVersus_Predator(comics). But it’s terrible. Just awful. Shoddy plotting, shallow characterization, and… well… it’s just boring. Like all good, or even great, movies — relying solely on star power means jack if there’s no story. The sight of a xenomorph and predator in combat is undoubtedly awesome. But this isn’t celebrity deathmatch. It’s narrative cinema. The presence of one juggernaut cancels out the prowess of the other.
A Fantastic Four and X-Men team-up has the potential to become the first crossover success story of recent memory. It can learn from previous mistakes and stride forth into a brave new world of competent storytelling.
Of course, it could turn out like this: