The Marvel vs Fox Conspiracy

If you’ve followed my work for any amount of time, you could probably at least take a guess that I dislike conspiracies, and you’d be right. Mostly I just dislike the people who believe in conspiracies, because they always seem to be bizarre weirdos that you wouldn’t take seriously even if they weren’t talking out of their ass about ridiculous, paranoid theories.

Every group has conspiracy theorists, and nerds are no exception (in fact they’re pretty much the rule). And one conspiracy lately is that Marvel is “sabotaging” their own characters in comic form, specifically characters they don’t own the movie rights to (Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four) in an attempt to drive down interest in the movie properties. You see, Fox owns the rights to these characters, and they aren’t interested in giving them up (The Wolverine made over $400 mil and X-Men: Days of Future Past made nearly $750 mil, so you can understand why they might consider keeping them). Marvel wants them back. So the conspiracy, you see, is that Marvel is fucking up the characters in the comics intentionally. People will then say “oh, that character sucks now, I don’t care about them, so I’m not going to go watch that movie”. Then what will happen in this fantasy world is that no one will go see the movies based on these characters that Marvel has killed or made unenjoyable in some way, and Fox will say “oh, these characters aren’t selling anymore, I guess we’ll just sell them back to Marvel!” and then Marvel will be able to reboot the characters and add them to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and order will be restored. There are just two tiny little flaws in this plan… 1) no one cares about comics, and 2) movies now help drive comic sales, not the other way around.

I’ve addressed the “no one cares about comics” thing before, but let’s go over it again with a different example. In early 2014, Wolverine comics (the series leading up to the “Death of Wolverine”) sold roughly 40,000 copies. When you consider that it’s generally the same people reading a serialized version of a comic, it means roughly the same 40,000 people show up every month to see what’s going on in Wolverine’s world. Now, let’s take $400 mil (the amount of ticket sales for The Wolverine) and divide it by $15 (a slightly high average price for a movie ticket) and you get a number of 26,666,667. That means nearly 27 million tickets sold. Even if every person went and saw it twice (which didn’t happen), you’ve got a little over 13 million people who watched The Wolverine in theatres. 13 million people vs 40,000. Even if Marvel’s supposed tactics of killing Wolverine off in order to destroy interest in the character affected those 40,000 people… even if it affected 165,000 people (the number of copies sold of Death of Wolverine #4, the final issue of the series in which Wolverine bites the big one), that leaves easily 12,840,000 people who are still potentially going to see a Wolverine movie based on this flawed math in which I’m totally downplaying how many people actually watched a movie about Wolverine. It’s a drop in the bucket. That’d only be $2,475,000 of lost revenue (Let’s just say $5 million if they all saw it twice) against $400 million. And this is for one of their lesser selling films, do this example with X-Men (using Days of Future Past’s sales) and you’ll see an even better example. Fox won’t give a shit, that’s not going to be reason enough for them to sell the rights back to Marvel.

The truth of it is… Marvel kills its characters off all the time in order to make money, and in fact uses these movies, whether they own them or not, as springboards to bring them back to the comic world. First, you kill the character, hyping it up for several months before, which drives sales (again, only 40,000 copies of Wolverine’s comic were being sold, which spiked during his death to around 4x that amount). They did it with the Amazing Spider-man, the rights of that character being owned by Sony (Sony, in case you were wondering, is not Marvel. Completely different spelling and everything). In issue #700 of The Amazing Spider-Man, they “killed” Peter Parker, which resulted in sales of over 200,000 issues (before that, they were doing around 50,000 – 60,000 copies sold per month). Then, just in time for the launch of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” film, with interest in the mainstream at peak levels, they brought Peter back from the dead with a relaunch, selling well over half a million copies, their biggest sale in years (it’s settled back into a comfortable range around the 100,000 issues per month mark). It’s all over the Internet right now that they’re going to kill off Deadpool in issue #45 (which, according to some shoddy math that ignores a few issues for convenience sake, will be Deadpool’s 250th issue if you add up all of the different series he’s had), and they’re canceling the Fantastic Four comic, which has the conspiracy theorists once again claiming sabotage by Marvel. Deadpool and the Fantastic Four have movies coming out soon, and Marvel has a few fiscal quarters to pad. SO, if they can get the casuals to buy up Deadpool’s “death” issue and the Fantastic Four’s grand finale, and then get them to buy the relaunch in a year or so when their movies come out, they’re laughing all the way to the bank no matter who’s releasing the movie. Of course I’m sure they’d love to have the movie rights to their characters back again, but I guess they should have thought about that when they were hurting for cash and sold them in the first place!

And how come this theory doesn’t apply to the characters they own? Marvel has the rights to the Avengers, and yet they’ve made some pretty dramatic changes to those characters in the last few months. The Falcon is now the new Captain America, with Steve Rogers becoming a de-powered old man. The character of Thor is now a woman, with the original Thor (the Odinson) deemed unfit to wield his own hammer. Iron Man is now a prick… well, ok, not that dramatic of a change, but far more of a prick than he’s been in a while. For some reason, these same conspiracy theorists will tell you that THIS is all for sales, and that all of these characters will be restored just in time for their films. Funny how that works… no no, they’re killing off Deadpool and Wolverine, two of their most popular characters, to fuck over Fox, but they made Thor a woman to temporarily boost sales and then to boost them again when they have the original Thor take over again. Makes perfect sense… if you’re a drooling paranoid delusional moron.

As for people claiming that the X-Men comics are getting shittier and that they’re doing that on purpose to lower interest… have you ever thought that maybe the simple answer is that it has nothing to do with the movies and they just suck because they suck? It wouldn’t make any sense for them to just sabotage the comic so that no one will read them, the only company that really loses on that deal is Marvel themselves. Then they don’t see any revenue from the movies OR the comics.

There is no conspiracy. If that was Marvel’s plan, it would fail horribly. The audience for the films is NOT the same audience who buys comics. The comic buying audience only represents a tiny, miniscule, insignificant fraction of the movie-going public. You may believe differently because that little fraction is very noisy on the Internet, but you need to understand that you’re not the target audience. You’re the guaranteed audience. They know you’re in. Their goal is to convince everyone else to come see a movie about people in weird costumes saving the world from people in weirder costumes, and nothing they do in the comics will be a deterrent to those people… unless they force them to read the comics to understand the movie. Then they’re out.

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6 Responses to “The Marvel vs Fox Conspiracy”

  1. That’s all fine and dandy. But you forget one thing; Marvel’s brand recognition. Marvel could make a movie about a dildo that shoots lightning out of it’s cockhole who’s arch nemesis is a tampon and it WILL make $500 mil at least. As such, Marvel can take risks with the properties that they already own because they can’t damage themselves too much.

    You could still make the brand recognition argument with non-Marvel studios movies but keep in mind that those normally make less money than Marvel studios movies and that non-Marvel Cinematic Universe movies generate less interest because they don’t link back to this other large movie universe that fans are following.

    Here’s the real issue with the conspiracy; technically speaking it’s Malpractice. It’s as simple as that.

    • From a business standpoint though, it makes sense to be more conservative with the properties they own. If the logic behind this conspiracy made any sense and the events in the comics affected movie ticket sales, they’d want to be more careful with the Avengers and not rock the boat too hard. Clearly that’s not something they’re too concerned about, since they’ve made drastic moves with all sorts of characters in the last little while, whether they own them or not.

      I’m not convinced that the “Cinematic Universe” is a great idea, I address this in an episode of Nerd Rants I believe, or maybe it was in “Comic Book Movie Overload”, but the moment they start making it too hard to follow, people will potentially tune out. If I have to watch Agents of SHIELD or Thor or any of those to understand the next Avengers movie, I’m just not going to bother watching any of it. I want to be able to pick and choose the movies and TV shows I watch, and if missing one makes another one more difficult to follow (like it does with comic crossovers), I’m going to pass on all of it. The hardcores love that shit, but as I mentioned, the hardcores aren’t who you need to please. They’ll buy a ticket just so they have something to complain about. The casuals won’t complain, they’ll just stop going.

      • The good thing is Feige and Whedon know what they’re doing. Whedon said that for making Age of Ultron a success he’d have to assume that the audiences haven’t seen The Winter Soldier, Dark World or even the first Avengers movie. Leave it to someone who knows how to bring out a good crossover movie without bloating it. Anyway, properties like Agents would only get affected by the events that happen in CA:TWS or AoU, while the Netflix shows cater mostly to the hardcores and the Netflix crowd, with only a few easter eggs to hint at some connection with the overall MCU.

  2. There is one side of this argument that while I have heard versions of in boards, its never fully explained mostly because the second half is untrue. The whole theory requires that the writers for fox and sony to not be able to come up with a decent storyline for comic characters if their lives depended on it. Which we’ve seen is untrue but assuming that is, the only logical response to make a good movie is to take writing and other material from the respective comics that have been making such material for the characters for years. But when the characters start to suck on page the writers can’t tell the difference or see how they stack up against their previous movies. This will make the character suck in their new movie making sales plummet by word of mouth and for any potential of a sequel. Then they sell it back to marvel who will do a relaunch of the characters making them “good” again. It’s a stupid argument because a good writer, weather or not are familiar with a character or genera, can generally point out how something will look stupid to the every day mouth breather, regardless of how it looks to the core fan base because their going to see it anyway.

    I see the first half of this argument a lot in that the writers just don’t know how to write so sucking on paper will make it suck on screen. And yet these same people are dumbfounded when you bring up how well X-Men sold when they paired Wolverine with Jean Grey instead of Cyclopes. Every group of people has their respective amount of loud blathering idiots.

  3. irwin126playsgames Says:

    I Know that this unrelated but you still use this site? cause the post onder this is the top 11 worst songs of 2011.

    • It’s pretty rare. It now mostly houses some blog posts I’ve written that are either companion pieces to videos, or unrelated things I’ve written that I didn’t feel like voicing.

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