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Although 20th Century Fox currently owns the live-action rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel Entertainment continues to include these characters in their everyday goings-on in the comics. We may never see the X-Men or Fantastic Four team up with The Avengers on the big screen, but they can still hang out with each other on the printed page. However, now Marvel has decided to stick in to Fox by taking drastic action within their comic books, specifically towards mutants.
Notable X-Men writer Chris Claremont was on the Nerdist Podcast several months back as part of a conversation with other comic book writers Len Wein, Marc Bernardin and Heath Corson, but a particular section of the conversation went unnoticed until Bleeding Cool recently listened to the episode and dug it up. According to Claremont, if you’re currently a writer on one of Marvel’s X-Men books, you’re going to be dealing with major constraints with your writing. Here is Bleeding Cool’s transcription of the conversation (they unfortunately didn’t actually include information regarding who is saying what, but we can presume that Claremont’s quotes are the first and last):
"I have to say, quite honestly as I understand it, now the X department is forbidden to create new characters.
We have heard rumors before of Marvel taking indirect action against Fox - such as canceling their Fantastic Four book next year so that it wouldn’t promote The Fantastic Four in any way - but this is the first time that one of Marvel’s creatives has acknowledged direct action that Marvel is taking. If it’s true, then it looks like Marvel is making a sincere effort to undermine Fox’s movies by hindering creative efforts with the X-books. Granted, people are still picking up these books to read the adventures of Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and the other iconic mutants, but it’s not hard to see how not being able to create new mutant characters might severely hamper a writer’s ability to produce original stories.
This idea that Marvel is being this aggressive sticking it to Fox always sounded extreme. Sure, Marvel can’t pull the X-Men into the MCU shenanigans, but those X-books are a big part of Marvel’s extensive library. They may not like that Fox is making X-Men movies, but with a large readership invested in the X-books, one would think that Marvel would set aside their spite and make sure they’re producing quality and creatively unhindered stories. Evidently that may not be the case. It looks like the X-Men movies are going to have to make due with the characters they already have...which, frankly, is quite a few.
The article also points out that if Marvel Comics creates a new character under the recently launched Marvel NOW "style event," then that character is attributed solely to Marvel NOW. So if you’re writing a Marvel NOW story, maybe you should try and include as many new mutant characters in there as possible, because it sure doesn’t sound like you will get that opportunity writing an X-book.