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At first it seemed coincidental that the X-Men were fading in popularity, while the Avengers were rising.

Then there was a conspiracy theory that Marvel, which was bought by Disney in 2009, was downplaying the mutant superheroes because their film rights were owned by 20th Century Fox.

After all, X-Men comics of the past decade have featured the decimation of the mutant population, a negative portrayal of the team in a big crossover in which they battled the Avengers, the death of star hero Wolverine, and the retconning of two popular characters to cut their ties to the X-Men. Meanwhile, the number of X-Men series seemed to be gradually declining, while there were fewer and fewer licensed X-Men products.

The theory was all but confirmed last summer, with reports that Disney forbade the creation of new X-Men characters and with senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort telling a fan: “If you had two things, and on one you earned 100% of the revenues from the efforts that you put into making it, and the other you earned a much smaller percentage for the same amount of time and effort, you’d be more likely to concentrate more heavily on the first, wouldn’t you?”

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