X-Men: Dark Phoenix is headed for reshoots. All major blockbusters undergo reshoots and/or additional photography, so that’s no surprise. What is newsworthy, however, is that reshoots have been cited as the reason behind the film being delayed three months.

I can’t help but wonder, however, if reshoots are the only cause of X-Men: Dark Phoenix (and New Mutants) being pushed back and just how much those reshoots will ultimately matter.

Yesterday Collider was the first to report reshoots as the culprit behind the Dark Phoenix delay. The Hollywood Reporter backs that up today while noting that the reshoots will rework the film’s third act. They will also cost less than $10 million.

The cast will return for the additional photography in late summer or early fall, as they’re busy filming other projects right now. Star Sophie Turner (Jean Grey) has to finish up the final season of her little show, Game of Thrones.

A late third quarter shoot would leave little time to finish everything before Dark Phoenix‘s original November 2, 2018 release date. The new February 14, 2019 date gives studio 20th Century Fox and director Simon Kinberg ample time to get the work done.

That also places Dark Phoenix on the same Presidents’ Day weekend that worked so well for Deadpool (2016) and Black Panther (2018).

Reshoots and scheduling conflicts are perfectly rational reasons behind the delay, but allow me a moment to put on my tin foil hat and explore a bigger picture. Pushing back the release date of a single film is no big deal, but this move does not exist in a vacuum.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the second Fox-Marvel movie pushed entirely out of 2018. New Mutants was supposed to be out in just a couple weeks, but was moved to February 22 next year. With Dark Phoenix now in February 2019, New Mutants has been delayed again to August 2, 2019.

Both Dark Phoenix and New Mutants were already lame ducks, but these new dates place them in the path of the elephant in the room. They are in very real danger of being buried underneath the pachyderm’s feet.

The Walt Disney Company is currently in process of acquiring most of 21st Century Fox, including the movie studio and all of the Marvel movie licenses that come with it. Disney and Fox reached an agreement late last year and, pending regulatory approval, will finalize the deal anywhere between late 2018 and the middle of 2019.

Once the deal goes through, X-MenFantastic Four, and all related franchises (like Deadpool and New Mutants) will be owned by Disney and presumably be assigned to Marvel Studios. At that point, all of the characters in those franchises can be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That means all of those characters could be up for a total reboot in order to join the MCU. The X-Men franchise has a messy continuity that may be impossible to save while the Fantastic Four do not even have an active cinematic iteration to worry about.

Anyone who thinks Marvel Studios is going to preserve the X-Men movie continuity should remember that Marvel Studios rebooted Spider-Man to include him in the MCU and Disney still doesn’t even own that franchise. Sony holds the rights, but had to abandon the Andrew Garfield era after just two movies in order to play in the house that Marvel Studios built.

The only Fox-owned franchise that might survive in its current form is Deadpool, but not simply because of its enormous box office success. Deadpool has not done much to attach itself to the rest of the X-Men movie canon. Also, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) breaks the fourth wall and has the ability to exist in and outside the story.

It would be incredibly easy to have Deadpool just show up in the MCU and set up shop.

The same cannot be said of the X-Men franchise where the current team is composed of characters that have been saving the world since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Other members got started in the early 1980s while Dark Phoenix will be set in the 1990s.

Sure, Captain Marvel is being retconned into the MCU’s 1990s and Ant-Man was retroactively added to the mega-franchise’s history, but adding teams of mutant heroes and villains who’ve very publicly saved (or threatened) the world since the 1960s is much more challenging.

Fan theories about how Infinity Stones can be used to make it all work are fun, but they are not realistic solutions. Yes, the Infinity Stones can reshape all reality and merge timelines from a theoretical multiverse in which Fox’s “XCU” and MCU both exist, but why would Marvel Studios even want to do that?

The X-Men franchise has always been hit or miss. For every X-Men: Days of Future Past, there’s an X-Men: Apocalypse. The best thing the main X-Men franchise had going for it was Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but he retired after Logan last year (and said someone else should wear the claws in the MCU).

Marvel Studios has carefully constructed their canon, and their reputation. Studio president Kevin Feige started his producing career as an associate producer on the first X-Men, but sentimentality won’t override sense. He will probably choose to carefully develop and introduce a completely new iteration of the mutant franchise in the greater MCU.

By the time X-Men: Dark Phoenix is released, Disney and Marvel Studios may already be in full control. If not, they’ll still have control long before Kinberg or anyone else can put together a follow-up in the series.

In all likelihood, Disney and Marvel Studios will officially own Fox’s movie studio before New Mutants is released next August. The only way New Mutants gets a sequel is if it breaks out in a massive way like Deadpool, which feels less probable with each delay.

Perhaps the reality of the Disney-Fox deal is informing the reshoots for both Dark Phoenix and New Mutants. With sequels looking like long-shots, the stories can be given definitive endings that don’t look toward a future that won’t happen. That fits with THR’s report of Dark Phoenix reshoots focusing on the third act.

New Mutants one-off and Dark Phoenix serving as a finale for Fox’s X-Men run are the best case scenario for people looking forward to those films. If Disney gains control of Fox in time, however, there is also the option to shelve both films, or make them immediate digital releases without distributing them in theaters.

Yes, a lot of money has been and continues to be spent on New Mutants and Dark Phoenix. Ordinarily, that would leave a studio pot committed and forced to release a film regardless of how they really feel about it. The difference here, though, is that it’s not Disney’s money that’s been spent.

Disney has not invested a dime in either of these films. Granted, Disney will be able to collect the revenue from New Mutants and Dark Phoenix, but Disney must also consider how good those films actually are, how they’ll perform, and how they’ll impact Marvel Studios’ own plans with the mutant franchises in the foreseeable future.

Disney may not be in charge soon enough for Dark Phoenix, but if they are, expect them to examine the film closely and see if it’s another Days of Future Past, or an Apocalypse. If it’s the latter and Disney has the authority in time, they can cut Fox’s losses and make sure the damage doesn’t bleed into Marvel Studios’ future.

New Mutants will almost certainly fall under the scrutiny of Disney before its (currently) scheduled release next August. Some have already suggested Disney’s streaming service as a destination for it. That’s one option, but if New Mutants is too far off brand, then Hulu, which Disney will own the majority of, is another.

Disney’s streaming service and Hulu are also options for Dark Phoenix, if Disney has the authority in time and wants to at least do something with the film.

The idea of not releasing a pair of already-made blockbusters may sound crazy, but Disney and Marvel Studios have to put their own long-term interests first. We just saw how the poorly-received Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice set Warner Bros. and DC Films up for failure with Justice League. What should have been an Avengers-level event wound up with the worst box office total of any film in DC’s shared universe.

Being a trusted brand is essential when you’re in the business of selling blockbusters. If Disney is in a position to prevent newly-bought IP like X-Men from being tarnished on its way into the MCU, the company must act.

Time is another incentive for Dark Phoenix and New Mutants to fade (or go) away. We’re already two years removed from the last X-Men team film and a year past Logan. Releasing two films next year resets the clock in terms of when Marvel Studios can, or would probably want to insert X-Men characters in the MCU.

It’s less of an issue, considering that Marvel Studios had Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Captain America: Civil War just two years after The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but still something to consider.

If nothing else, Disney, if they can, may want to delay Dark Phoenix just a bit more. Captain Marvel, which comes out three weeks after Dark Phoenix, is introducing the Skrulls in the MCU. Dark Phoenix may be using that same alien race and, if they can help it, Disney and Marvel Studios would certainly want to be the first to use those characters.

Of course, all of this is hypothetical since we do not know when Disney will be in charge, much less if it will be in time for them to have any input on the fates of X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants. Fox has continue operating as if Disney will never be in charge, just in case the deal unexpectedly falls through.

That’s the story everyone is sticking to anyway, but remember my tin foil hat. People know new bosses are coming in and meetings are happening. People know that some jobs will have to be eliminated due to redundancy and those hoping to stick around are going to be willing to play ball.

That game may have already started, as it’d be no shock to me if some of these delays have as much to do with Disney’s interests as they do reshoots. It is not difficult at all to imagine Disney trying to wield some influence over Fox’s Marvel movies, or at least encouraging their future employees to slow things down just enough for Disney to be in charge of those films before they hit theaters.

It may be possible that this is all a coincidence that just so happens to be working in Disney’s favor, but there’s also the reality that people at Disney and Fox know what’s coming and are talking about their future together.

SOURCES: Collider | The Hollywood Reporter