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Marvel Studios’ next heroic mission: Save the 'X-Men,' 'Fantastic Four'

Even superheroes need saving sometimes.

In this case, the “X-Men” franchise will look to Disney’s (DIS) Marvel Studios for a wholesale revamping— especially after “Dark Phoenix” which crashed and burned at the box office when it was released last weekend.

“Dark Phoenix,” the final 20th Century Fox (FOX) Marvel movie, has grossed just over $200 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and plummeted in its 2nd weekend to earn just $9 million.

Deadline recently reported that the film is expected to lose over $100 million, after having turned in the worst domestic opening for any X-men movie. The film currently sits at a 23% critic’s approval on Rotten Tomatoes and at a 64% audience score.

As Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) moves to integrate the characters whose rights were formerly owned by Fox into the same movie universe as “The Avengers” and “Spider Man,” it raises questions about how Marvel intends to spark new interest in franchises that appear to have fallen out of favor with audiences.

The newly acquired assets also include “Deadpool” — the super-powered mercenary played in 2 movies by Ryan Reynolds that way outperformed expectations worldwide — as well as the “Fantastic Four.”

In 2015, the latter was rebooted after 2 moderately successful films in the early 2000s, only to bomb spectacularly with fans and critics alike with a new cast and a revamped plot.

“The foundation of amazing characters and epic backstory is there, but in the wake of “Dark Phoenix”, the “X-Men” franchise is in need of an infusion of creative energy,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Sr. media analyst at Comscore.

“The Fox characters have always seemed to resonate on a different frequency than the characters of the MCU, and it will be Marvel’s charge to ensure that if integrated into their world, that it will create a symphony not a cacophony,” he added.

“Marvel just needs to do what they’ve done for the past twenty-two movies,” added Jeremy Conrad, a commentator and media influencer. “Treat the characters as well as they’ve treated all of the others and the X-Men will be a success” in the MCU, he added.

‘Make them a family’

There is no immediate timetable on when Marvel’s super-powered mutants will make their appearance in an MCU movie. Marvel declined to comment to Yahoo Finance.

However, Marvel producer Victoria Alonso recently shared her thoughts on the X-Men during an interview. She said: “It’s funny that people call it the X-Men. There’s a lot of female superheroes in that X-Men group, so I think it’s outdated.”

That comment suggested something that the X-Men’s coming reboot may be poised to capitalize on: The team’s diversity, according to Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for Boxoffice.com.

“If the MCU has proven anything over the past decade, it's that there's room for characters not well known to the masses to find success alongside the household character names,” Robbins emphasized.

“Characters like Storm, Rogue, and others could be valuable as the studio continues to improve its diverse roster,” he said, naming two of the X-Men’s top women team members.

“The X-Men has some of the best female characters in comics,” added Daniel Richtman, a media influencer and commentator. He suggested Marvel could follow the successful template that turned “The Avengers” into such a box office bonanza.

“Make them explorers. Make it cosmic. Make them a family and make it [the narratives] about them as a family,” Richtman added.

‘Rocket fuel’

The “Fantastic Four” — Marvel’s so-called “First Family” with a rich history that spans more than 50 years — is also in a similar boat.

Since 2005, 20th Century Fox distributed three Fantastic Four movies since 2005. Combined, 2005’s “Fantastic Four,” 2007’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and 2015’s “Fantastic Four” grossed a little over $787 million worldwide. Each of these films failed to score higher than 37% on Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer”; the 2015 film scored a 9%.

“Fantastic Four” is just waiting for someone with the creative vision to finally crack the code on this elusive brand,” said Comscore’s Dergarabedian.

“This incredibly rich cast of characters could be paired with an unexpected storyline that could deliver box office gold if done properly,” the analyst added.

Regardless of past box office flops that Fox-Marvel films have endured, one thing appears certain: there is an abundance of confidence in Marvel to finally get these characters right when they integrate them into the MCU.

“More diversity, more characters, more storylines to explore is what happens when you fold one universe of characters into another,” Dergarabedian said.

“This could be the rocket fuel that creates what could be one of the most dynamic, entertaining and profitable chapters in the continuing MCU saga,” he added.

Given the wealth of source material in the two franchises, it should give the MCU plenty of fodder to nail the right formula, analysts say.

As a whole, Marvel “has no shortage of stories and characters to continue exploring and introducing, but now they have two of comic book lore's most famous properties at their disposal,” added Robbins.

“Their impact could be just as big as Spider-Man's integration was a few years ago, if not significantly bigger over time,” he added.

Donovan Russo is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @Donovanxrusso.

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