In a move that surprises absolutely no one, 20th Century Fox has quietly changed the release date of Fantastic Four 2 from July 9, 2017 to possibly never. While Fox said they were still committed to making the sequel, after critical and box office disaster of the first film, I’m not sure anyone actually believed them.
What is surprising is that Fox hasn’t moved the release date of another film to replace it. I guessed that Gambit would probably be pushed back from October 2016, and that date would be a perfect match for the Channing Tatum film. I still think this will happen, I just assumed Fox would hold the date with Fantastic Four 2 until they moved the solo Gambit film.
So what will happen to Fantastic Four now that its sequel is in limbo? There are four possibilities I can think of…
Even though the sequel has been put on ice, it hasn’t been cancelled entirely. I believe Fox has seven years before the rights revert back to Marvel, so they shouldn’t be in a rush at the moment to make the next film. I did like the cast for Fantastic Four, but the story was awful, so a major overhaul with the same actors, while more or less ignoring the first film, could still work.
The Tim Story 2005 version of Fantastic Four and its 2007 Silver Surfer sequel were middling successes at best, but prompted Fox to reboot it. The 2015 version was a complete disaster, so I can see Fox just burying it and starting once again. If they go this route, hopefully they don’t make another origin story.
The X-Men films are huge at Fox these days, so they could take a page out of what Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are doing with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Pit the X-Men against the Fantastic Four as a way to relaunch the franchise by capitalizing on the X-Men brand. This could work for a sequel or a reboot, and we do know that Bryan Singer has given a crossover some thought.
Let Marvel Have It Back
If you’re hoping the cancellation of the sequel means Fox is giving Fantastic Four back to Marvel, I wouldn’t hold my breath. With a good seven years to make people forget about the Josh Trank version, it’s unlikely they’ll let the rights expire. Although it’s fair to point out that Fox did let the rights to Daredevil relapse back to Marvel Studios, so it’s not out of the range of possibility.
Marvel Studios seems to be the least likely route Fox would take, and another reboot is probably the most likely. The crossover is also very unlikely, as they would be gambling a sure thing in a solo X-Men film just to launch a new Fantastic Four franchise.