Two massive conglomerates are fighting it out over which one of them will get to buy a third huge company—it’s 2018, what else is new? These sorts of corporate machinations are usually of little interest to nonshareholders, but in the case of Disney and Comcast’s battle for 21st Century Fox—the parent of the 20th Century Fox movie studio, FX, National Geographic, and more—superhero fans are sitting up and taking notice. Why? Because this could have implications for their beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney is the current owner of Marvel Studios, keepers of the MCU, the behemoth whose movies and characters like the Avengers, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more have brought in billions of dollars over the past decade. But some of the movie rights to Marvel characters still rest with other companies due to deals that predate the MCU. If Disney were to take ownership of Fox, it would mean that characters that Fox owns the movie rights to, which notably includes the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, could potentially join the MCU stable, a prospect that many fans find irresistible. It would mean Wolverine could fight evil side by side with Iron Man and Captain America, that the Avengers squad would roll even deeper next time there’s an infinity war.
As the Verge points out, this has led to a curious situation: Superhero fans are now declaring sides in a multibillion-dollar merger. On Twitter, fans are pleading with Comcast to bow out of the fight and treating Disney as not its fellow super-corporation but a likable underdog that deserves to beat big, bad Comcast. These fans don’t seem to recognize that both are huge companies, and both care much more about maximizing profits than they do about fans’ MCU sequel fantasies—although in the case of Disney, profits and sequel fantasies probably align.
If Comcast prevails in this contest, it would mean no X-Men in the MCU anytime soon. It would also mean a lot of other things: A cable and internet behemoth like Comcast owning more content raises serious antitrust concerns, although so does a content company like Disney taking over a content company like Fox. Either way, it’s hard to focus on one’s anti-monopolistic anxieties when the crossover possibilities are so tantalizing. Then again, for those of us who think there are already more than enough MCU movies, it might be enough to make you root for Comcast.