Eight years after the disappointing release of Tim Story’s Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four franchise has once again found itself facing big trouble and big question marks. Josh Trank’s new film arrived in theaters this past weekend with a thud, as it was disliked by both critics and audiences, and wound up making only $26.2 million in its opening frame. This has led many to wonder what’s in store for the future of Marvel’s First Family, and the reality is that there are actually four options for them to consider at this point.

So what are these choices? We’ve conveniently laid them all out below, along with their individual pros and cons. Read on, as we paint some pictures of what the future of the Fantastic Four should look like.

Fantastic Four
Proceed With A Direct Sequel As Planned
Pro: Whether it was an act of overzealousness, or an attempt to stake a release date claim, 20th Century Fox announced a theatrical release for Fantastic Four 2 all the way back in March 2014… and one option for the studio is to just stick with that plan and just make an in-continuity sequel. The origin story is now out of the way, and a follow-up that’s good enough could help to erase memories of a shaky start.

Con: The negatives here are pretty obvious. Both critics and audiences have rejected this incarnation of the Fantastic Four in terms of quality, and folks aren’t exactly voting for it with their dollar either. And even if a direct sequel were to be made with a slashed budget, that fact would likely haunt the production and would be seen in the public eye as just another strike against it. It’s hard to argue for a follow-up to a movie that nobody really liked.

Is This A Good Idea?: Bluntly speaking, no – this is a terrible idea. An incredible number of things would need to go extremely right in order for this vision of Fantastic Four 2 to actually be successful, and it’s hard to imagine Fox making the gamble and potentially wasting a whole lot of money.
Fantastic Four
Skip To The X-Men Crossover
Pro: Right now the Fantastic Four brand is in trouble, but you know what isn’t? The X-Men franchise, which has been on the rebound in a big way in the last five years. Fox can still utilize the inter-dimensional travel plot devices of Fantastic Four to bring the two teams together, and movie-goers will get to see a ton of new variations on superhero pairings that can’t be seen anywhere else. The good-will of the X-Men franchise could really help out Marvel’s First Family at this point.

Con: If the executives and creatives at Fox are considering this play, there is one big question that they need to ask themselves: does the audience’s appreciation for the X-Men outweigh their dislike of Fantastic Four? If the answer is yes they get the situation described above, but if the answer is no then they are basically poisoning the well and doing nothing more than harming one of their most successful franchises. The risk is very high with this play.

Is This A Good Idea?: This option may look better with a bit more distance from the situation, but as things stand, a crossover is probably not the way that Fox should go. The idea of this Fantastic Four being in a separate reality from the X-Men was probably originally included as an element of the production to safeguard against this exact kind of disastrous situation, and it’s probably best that the barriers stay up.
Fantastic Four
Wait As Long As Possible And Just Reboot Again
Pro: Right now, things look pretty terrible for Fantastic Four as a property, but time is kind of on Fox’s side right now. The studio’s ownership of the rights is dependent on them actually doing something with them, and - as bad as it turned out – Josh Trank’s film reset the proverbial clock. Just to create some distance, it could be in Fox’s best interest to just wait as long as possible – enough time for people to forget this year’s movie – and just reboot again.

Con: There are really two key problems with this approach. For starters, the public has grown pretty wary/tired of reboots – especially comic book ones that just try and tell a new variation on an origin story. The other potential issue is that Fox could wind up in the exact same situation as they were with Daredevil a few years back. Hard as the studio tried, they couldn’t develop a new project based on the character fast enough, and after failed negotiations with Marvel they wound up just losing the rights and not getting a penny. This could easily happen to Fantastic Four as well, which leads us to the last option…

Is This A Good Idea?: The idea waiting and then making another reboot would probably be a hard pill for the public to swallow, but it’s really one of Fox’s strongest options at this stage. It’s a gamble because it will take a long time for us to forget about this version of Fantastic Four, but the key to victory will be learning from mistakes and offering an interesting presentation.
Fantastic Four
Just Sell The Rights Back To Marvel
Pro: Unfortunate as the Tim Story-directed movies were, The Fantastic Four movie franchise really has now hit its lowest low – and as a result surely there are people at 20th Century Fox who are seriously wondering if there’s any money to actually be made from another movie. The good news is that Marvel/Disney will be more than open to the idea of taking the characters back, and will probably be willing to pay a good bit of money for the opportunity. This is the option for Fox if they really don’t see any future for the Fantastic Four in their hands, and want to find a way to make some money from the property in the short term.

Con: There are a lot of fans who would really love to see Fox exercise this option (especially now), but the reality is that this move has many, many downsides. On beyond the loss of a recognized brand and the abandonment of any crossover ideas, the studio would also be dealt a pretty substantial public relations blow. As one of the biggest competitors in the comic book movie game, Fox would just straight up look bad if they were to give up on the Fantastic Four. How these big blows would weigh against the potential positives, however, will surely be discussed in-depth in the coming weeks.

Is This A Good Idea?: Thanks to key characters like Galactus, Silver Surfer, Kang The Conqueror and more, Marvel wouldn’t have Fox totally over a barrel in negotiations, and a nice deal could definitely off-set some of the money lost on Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. Now may be as good a time as any for the two studios to talk about a deal.
What should Fox do for the future of the Fantastic Four?
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