With the announced sale of Fox to Disney, many fans are wondering about the fate of many of the properties that seem to be working for Fox’s Marvel universe. Will those edgier stories be watered down in the more family-friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or will they be shut down altogether? I think there’s a better solution.
In 1998, Marvel Comics decided to spin-off many of its properties to a smaller imprint that would appeal to more adult comic book readers. These stories would be grittier and more violent and even though the characters were still part of the Marvel universe, they were removed enough from the mainstream that they could flourish without the mandate of having to be “family-friendly”. This imprint was called Marvel Knights. What made Marvel Knights work was that it stripped away many of the huge story arcs and focused on the characters themselves.
In the same way that the Marvel Netflix shows like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are grounded in the gritty reality of the streets, Marvel Knights took that same approach. Now that there will be a larger number of characters to draw stories from, instead of trying to see where they will all fit in the MCU, give them their own studio with the same resources and mandate and let those connections form naturally. Instead of shoving a bunch of mutants into an Avengers film, let the mutant phenomenon be a naturally occurring event that is happening, but hasn’t touched on the rest of the MCU. Let it be something that grows and evolves.
One of the things that got fans excited about a growing Marvel Cinematic Universe were the small interconnected details that we looked forward to. Crafting a new MCU with a Marvel Knights Studio allows for that to continue. We don’t need to have Tony Stark in the next X-Men movie, but maybe Stark’s weapons division got sold off to a small company interested in building robots run by a man named Trask. Maybe the reason that mutants aren’t known in the MCU is because the world’s most powerful telepath has been hiding that knowledge from us. Stories like these and others could be given time to grow in a Marvel Knights Studio environment like New Mutants and its horror movie themes and Deadpool’s broad comedy.
Just because these characters are back at Marvel doesn’t mean that they can’t still have a little time to establish their own tones. Some characters like Fantastic Four would probably thrive more in the MCU proper with its expanding stories and larger scale, but X-Men should be allowed to explore the themes of isolation and fear that have helped the stories and characters endure for decades. Give them a studio where they can tell darker, more intimate stories and you set both sides up for something big in the future and give fans more stories to love with characters that appeal to more people.
Best thing Marvel Studios and Disney could do right now is creating Marvel Knights Studios, put X-Men, Deadpool, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider and the Marvel NETFLIX shows under that banner and let them craft their own connected cinematic universe. That, and have Kevin Feige oversee it.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.