We didn’t start to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe make an impact on studios and its franchises until after Marvel’s The Avengers hit theaters in 2012. However, The Hollywood Reporter recently revealed that in 2010 20th Century Fox had been paying attention to what the MCU was laying out and was planning something similar.
In 2010, according to our secret sources, Fox considered building toward a crossover movie that would have pitted the X-Men against the Fantastic Four (think of it as a Civil War for the Fox/Marvel characters). The studio enlisted First Class screenwriters Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz to pen the script, which saw Johnny Storm go nova while trying to apprehend the villain Molecule Man. Johnny blows a hole in Manhattan and sparks the superhero registration act in response to the carnage.
The heroes are split on opposing sides, and among the key matchups was a Wolverine vs. Mr. Fantastic battle that ended with Reed Richards pinning Wolverine down, extending his hands until they’re one molecule wide, and using them as scissors to cut the mutant’s arms off (!!!). Eventually the heroes make peace … leading to a post-credits scene that teases what’s next: A Skrull invasion.
Bourne filmmaker Paul Greengrass was flirting with directing. Ultimately it never came to fruition; First Class ended up being a hit and Fox decided to keep the status quo, making 2014’s Days of Future Past instead.
Now comes the moment where I ask: What if?
Let’s start with the wording “considered building.” That makes it seem like Fox Civil War (as I will call it) wasn’t 100 per cent set in stone (which we can see as it never got made). So it wouldn’t have been the next film after X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That honor would have still gone to First Class (whose success cancelled this proposed film). But if it had bombed, there’s a chance we could have gotten Fox Civil War, and it would have drastically changed the cinematic superhero landscape.
So First Class bombs and Fox greenlights Fox Civil War. That’s all fine and dandy, but its 2011 and the two teams that are set for a crossover haven’t been seen onscreen in about five years (X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007). So what needs to happen first?
A third Fantastic Four film needs to reintroduce the team and directly set the stage for Fox Civil War. Chris Evans wouldn’t be able to return as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch as he would be busy playing Captain America in the MCU. So this film would need to recast the role and win over the fans (remember, Evans’ portrayal of the character was considered one of the highlights for both FF films).
However, the real kicker would be the inclusion of a post-credits scene featuring Johnny Storm sitting atop a New York crane eating his lunch with Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. That’s right, Fox was considering using its other Marvel characters it had the rights too, which would have included Daredevil at the time. And way back in 2002, Hugh Jackman almost made a cameo as Wolverine in Spider-Man. It’s not hard to imagine that if Fox Civil War was to happen, Fox would have reached out to Sony and got them involved. After all, Spider-Man plays a huge role in the comic version of Civil War. This behind-the-scenes deal could have resulted in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 seeing the light of day (but being pushed back to 2012, replacing The Amazing Spider-Man).
So if Fantastic Four 3 enters development in 2011 it would realistically hit theaters in Summer 2013. The post-credits scene could end with the reveal of Fox Civil War coming in 2015. I consider 2013-15 as the height of Hollywood’s cinematic universe obsession, so Fox would have been coming in hot. Not only that, but by announcing Fox Civil War in 2013, Fox would have beat the MCU to the punch by a little over a year.
So Fox Civil War hits theaters in 2015 and fans absolutely eat it up! Not only does it unite the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, but it features surprise appearances by Nic Cage as Ghost Rider and Thomas Jane as the Punisher. It opens to over $200 million at the domestic box office. Fox Civil War ends with the Super-Hero Registration Act still in place, Spider-Man unmasked to the world, and a potential Marvel Knights film teased.
What’s more, Fox Civil War was supposed to end teasing the next epic crossover: The Secret Invasion. Once again, Fox would have beat Marvel to the punch. Instead of the MCU introducing Skrulls to moviegoers (as seen in Captain Marvel), it would be Fox (remember, Dark Phoenix was set to have Skrulls too until reshoots wrote them out of the third act as it was too similar to Captain Marvel).
So most likely Spider-Man 5 and Marvel Knights would have followed in 2016 and 2017, while a fourth Fantastic Four could be a space-bound mission that teases the arrival of the Skrulls. 2019 rolls around and you have the one-two punch that is Spider-Man 6 and Fox Secret Invasion. So theoretically, if the MCU followed the same course (with maybe a minor hiccup in 2016 with a different Captain America 3) we’re looking at 2019 featuring two epic Marvel crossovers. They would have single-handily destroyed any Summer Movie Wager we made (and made the DCEU look like even more of a joke).
However, while Endgame may have been the second part of a two-part story, Secret Invasion would have been the first. That’s right, Secret Invasion would have ended with superpowered individuals outlawed and placed under close watch. All known superheroes would have a Sentinel drone follow them at all times. I think you know where I’m going with this.
That’s right, this alternate universe still has its version of Days of Future Past. However, instead of the seventies, Wolverine would travel back to the eighties. The First Class cast and Wolverine would team up with Norman Osborn (potentially played by a de-aged Norman Osborn), Daredevil’s mentor Stick, and the 80s incarnation of the Ghost Rider. The film would split between the past and present culminating in a third act battle set across two time zones. Of course, our heroes would win and Wolverine would return to the present to find the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and other street fighters once again seen as heroes. The timeline change wouldn’t have caused history to have been rewritten too much. Cyclops and Jean Grey would have been brought back to life (setting up a faithful version of The Phoenix Saga), Spider-Man’s secret identity would once again be a secret, and Galactus would be teased as the next big crossover villain.
What comes next? I’ll leave that to your imagination.