Image via Geek Exchange

Fans with visions of X-Men and the Fantastic Four playing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe saw their dreams dashed almost as quickly as they had been inspired earlier this week. Reports that Disney had spoken with 21st Century Fox about acquiring most of the company were quickly followed by reports that the talks were no longer active. That is still the case, but it doesn’t mean Disney and Fox have given up.

David Faber of CNBC, who originally broke the story of this potential deal on Monday, reported earlier today that both sides are still open to the idea of finishing what they started. As Faber puts it, “Pencils aren’t down.” He continued, “”It does appear at the very least that they have not abandoned the idea of that combination.”

What Disney would be buying from Fox includes the latter company’s movie studio. Should the deal eventually come to fruition, the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises (including related characters like Deadpool, Doctor Doom, and Silver Surfer) would be accessible to Marvel Studios for the first time ever. The rights to those franchises were licensed to Fox by Marvel Entertainment long before Marvel began operating its own studio (and prior to Disney purchasing Marvel).

Disney and Fox may not be getting together or even talking about a deal right now, but if both sides are leaving the door open, it may only be a matter of time before they’re sitting across from each other at the negotiating table once again. Deals of this size, involving multiple assets valued in the several billions of dollars, often go through a number of stops and starts before anyone pulls the trigger. Then it takes several months or even years to actually execute the resulting transition.

The arrival of mutants and a beloved family of scientists/cosmic explorers in the MCU is not imminent. It’s not even guaranteed, but the possibility of such an arrival is still alive, for the moment.