Just to make sure everyone is up to speed...
Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy, and raised cash by selling spin-off media rights. Fox got the rights to make movies and series based on the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and their related characters. Universal got the Hulk and the right to use the characters at their Orlando theme park. Sony got the rights to Spider-Man. Disney bought Marvel and wanted to put all the marbles back in one bag. Fox mistimed its schedule and the rights to Daredevil reverted back to Marvel/Disney. This started a blood feud between Fox and Disney. Fox saw continuing decreasing returns on X-Men, and the less said about Josh Trank's Fantastic Four, the better. Things started defrosting between Disney and Fox with a TV series based on X-Men characters that Disney extended an olive branch over. Fox got the rights to change the character of Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the Deadpool movie while Disney got to use Ego The Living Planet in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. Then, Disney announced it was going to buy most of Fox, including its movie slate and several TV networks and IP's, putting X-Men and Fantastic Four back in Disney's possession just in time for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fox still needed to keep developing, lest the deal fall apart -- you can't just suspend operations then struggle to catch up. So Fox greenlit movies based on New Mutants, another X-Men movie, a Silver Surfer movie, and a Deadpool animated series to run on FXX.
Everybody still with me so far? That's good!
Last week, Fox announced it was delaying the release of New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Dark Phoenix has been moved out from November of this year to February of next year. New Mutants, which was delayed back in September for release in the middle of May and was already pushed out to February of next year, has now been moved to the last quarter of next year. They said it was for reshoots. But it didn't really garner all that much attention, what with Infinity War coming out in just a month.
But then, on Thursday, a news report that people DID care about. FXX announced suddenly that they had cancelled the Deadpool animated series. This caught people off guard because, first of all, people were excited to see a Deadpool animated series. But the other was the question, "Why?" Deadpool was ordered straight to series. No pilot, no development, no going back and forth. Donald Glover and his brother Stephen Glover were set to executive produce, write, and show run this thing.
The official announcement read, "Due to creative differences, FX, Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, and Marvel Television have agreed to part ways on Marvel's Deadpool animated series. FX will no longer be involved in the project. FX and Marvel have an ongoing relationship through our partnership on Legion, which will continue."
I want to take a moment to address something, because it will tie in with some of the speculation regarding why it was cancelled. A lot of people blame Disney, and they are doing it out of habit. When New Mutants and Dark Phoenix got pushed out, a lot of people were saying it was Disney flexing their muscles and making Fox move things out to not compete with their own properties. Anyone who thinks this isn't paying attention. I mentioned above that the deal for Disney to acquire Fox would give them control of the X-Men and Fantastic Four just in time for Phase 4. Phase 4 officially kicks off in 2020 with Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3. With the movies testing poorly (Dark Phoenix, in fact, was originally testing well but recent tests are coming in much lower), Disney has understandable concerns about the impressions the movies will leave on the properties once they get them back. I suspect Fox is just kicking the can down the road so that Disney will have to deal with the movies instead of them. (Not much of a risk, actually. Disney is launching its own streaming service, after all. Cancel the theatrical release, stream them as the "final farewell" to the Foxverse, and it will easily make the money back while keeping it off to the side and making a reboot fresh.) So, no, this isn't Disney throwing its weight around, it's just branding in action.
Like I said, pushing the movies out makes sense. But a lot of people just want to make Disney the bad guy, and are saying Disney put the brakes on Deadpool. This only increased when the test animation footage from Titmouse got leaked (I hope to God it wasn't anyone at Titmouse that released that footage, or they are going to have a real hard time being trusted with big projects after this. I have a suspicion of one or two people, but I'm not going to call anyone out). If you haven't seen the footage, it's not exactly the show. Some of it is just animatics, the dialog is lifted from Ryan Reynolds in the Deadpool movie, some good stuff in a minute and a half, but not in the same league as the leaked test footage that got the movie made. I'm not going to link to it, because Fox is playing Whack-A-Mole -- every time it pops up somewhere, they DMCA it and it gets taken down, so any link I post will be gone within a few hours. Just keep looking, you'll find it eventually.
However, Stephen Glover has thrown everyone a curve. A really wild one. The Wrap was reporting that Deadpool was cancelled because it was "too black." But that's what Deadpool is all about -- that gallows humor. Glover initially denied it, but that was as far as he went. Then the test footage leaked online. And Glover tweeted out that the reason the show was cancelled was because of Taylor Swift.
IGN, CNN, and Vanity Fair reported that Stephen said there was a script for an episode that featured Taylor Swift (according to The Wrap, the incriminating tweet has been deleted). "It was hilarious, and it definitely was the last straw, lol." Glover also wrote that, "We definitely wanted to give Rick And Morty a run for their money, and I think we would have. Proud of the gang."
Now, we don't know what exactly Swift's angle was in this. It's pretty obvious she would have been a target for jokes, but would she have just been in the show, or would she have been a villain? And was it that FX didn't want to risk a lawsuit and getting attacked by Swifties, or did the Glovers dig in their heels and FX concluded they would be stubborn and difficult to work with? Or did the Glovers think FX would interfere too much? And given other shows on FX and FXX (like, oh, off the top of my head, Archer), there don't seem to be any line to cross, so Taylor Swift being the reason doesn't make any sense. I'm adding up all the numbers, and the ledger just doesn't balance.
It is possible that maybe the show was too far behind schedule. The show was supposed to start a ten episode run in the fall. Unless there is more footage sitting around Titmouse, a trailer with a bunch of animatics and dialog boosted from the movie is not a lot of progress when it's supposed to hit the air soon.
This is probably going to be all we hear for now. Word will probably pick up again once Deadpool 2 is released in mid-May, but until then, all we have is a tweet that, had it come from anyone else, never would have been believed. And maybe it still shouldn't be believed. All I know is, things are strange, and they are definitely going to get stranger.....