The 90s were a rough time for Marvel - as the comic industry collapsed in on itself, Marvel found itself in desperate straits, and resorted to selling off the film rights to many of its popular characters. While they were able to gradually buy many of them back, a good deal of them - including the X-Men and Fantastic Four at Fox, and Spider-Man at Sony - were unable to be re-purchased, since all had had successful film franchise runs. Eventually, Marvel found its footing and managed to start a mildly respectable film business of their own, which has now ballooned into one of the biggest things in the world of film. And while the interconnectedness of their film universe is a big selling point, lots of the characters they sold off in the 90s are trapped at other studios - with too many lawyers and red-tape to ever allow for crossovers.
The fallout from this has been a lot of bitterness and spiteful actions being taken by everyone involved. Here are 7 of the biggest middle fingers that have resulted from this weird scenario.
1. Marvel is no longer making Fantastic Four comics, just to spite Fox
Marvel has announced that they're retiring the Fantastic Four's solo titles, although the characters will continue to exist within the Marvel universe and pop up in other peoples' books. The decree seems to have come from Marvel's insane and rarely-heard-from leader, Ike Perlmutter as a "screw you" to Fox (who is producing a new Fantastic Four film), with the possible reasoning that the comic would only serve to promote another studio's movie. Some people might agree with this reasoning - after all, this widely-read comic book is more or less nothing more than free advertising for Fox, right?
Which, ya know, of course not. In case you weren't aware, no one really reads comic books these days - at least, the readership is insanely small compared to the number of people who will go see a major blockbuster film. The idea that the couple thousand people buying Fantastic Four each week would be swayed to go see the Fantastic Four movie because of the comic book is nuts - these people are exactly the kind of people who will either go see it day one because they love comic book properties or because they want to hate-watch it for differing from the comic. Either way, they're gonna be seeing it the first weekend of release. Meanwhile, other people (who don't read the comic) who see the movie might have their curiosity piqued enough to stop into a comic book shop and pick up a Fantastic Four comic or two. See, that's how it works - the comics don't advertise the movie, the movie advertises the comic.
Of course, there is a possibility that the Fantastic Four comic is being cancelled because of low sales. Fantastic Four hasn't really sold particularly well in a while now - and keeping a comic series retired for a while can payoff once the inevitable reboot (look at Thor in the mid-2000s). But this seems malicious - the Fantastic Four has NEVER really sold that well, yet it's been in pretty much non-stop continuous print since its debut as the first big modern Marvel comic back in the early 60s. They're called Marvel's First Family for a reason. But beyond reasons of pride, the Fantastic Four movie WOULD increase sales of the comic - there's no question.
But hey, Marvel, if you want to turn away thousands of dollars in a weird spite move, go for it.
2. Marvel won't include Fantastic Four or X-Men on their multi-franchise covers
Check out Marvel's 75th anniversary cover, released a few months ago:
Notice anything weird? Two VERY big groups in the Marvel-verse are completely unrepresented - the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. So while Marvel's First Family takes a time out, the Guardians of the Galaxy (a relatively unknown and new-ish iteration of the team, prior to the movie at least) are front and center. There's no Wolverine or Ben Grimm, but there's room for Nova?
You might be wondering why they don't cancel X-Men comics as well - the problem is, X-Men comics (and their associated spin-offs) still sell incredibly well, and they represent too big of a universe to just cut out completely, whereas the Fantastic Four is mostly...just the Fantastic Four. Still, the timing of Marvel's "Death of Wolverine" event seems well-timed to remove the central character of Fox's cinematic X-films just as they were picking up steam again...
Still not convinced? Well, at the recent New York Comic-Con, Marvel unveiled a new Secret Wars event - which included exactly zero members of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four as well.
3. Jeez - Marvel won't even allow their artists to sell SKETCH CARDS of Fantastic Four
Marvel is PISSED about Fantastic Four - they want the movie rights back, or they will salt the Earth as much as possible before the new movie gets released. They actually sent out a memo to their artists, telling them they are banned from selling sketch cards of any Fantastic Four-related character:
For those of you not familiar, here's how SketchCards.com defines the term 'sketch card':
Sketch card are trading cards with actual hand-drawn original art on them. These collectibles, each one-of-a-kind, are randomly inserted into trading card packs for various card sets. Currently, popular sketch cards are from sets for Star Wars (Topps) and Marvel Comics properties such as Marvel Masterpieces (Upper Deck), and Marvel Universe (Rittenhouse Archives).
Yep. Marvel is so deadset in their spite against Fox over Fantastic Four, they won't allow trading cards. This is some next-level grudge-holding - and that isn't even all of it...