Marvel fans were ecstatic to learn that Disney has officially purchased 20th Century Fox. After being in discussions for weeks, the $52.4 billion sale was officially announced on Dec. 14, 2017.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, Fox currently owns a number of Marvel comic book characters who have not been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite being critically important in the source material. Now that this sale has happened, Marvel Studios, which is owned by Disney, will have access to all of these characters and storylines going forward — potentially completely changing the MCU as we know it.
So for those who have trouble keeping track of which company owns what, these are the characters that Marvel Studios will get back now that Disney has purchased Fox.
1. The Fantastic Four
Fox currently owns the rights to the Fantastic Four aka Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing. In the comics, the Fantastic Four have interacted with plenty of characters from the MCU. They have also teamed up with the Avengers to take on foes together.
But in the movies, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers have never interacted due to these rights issues. Now, Marvel Studios can finally use this group in their movies. They probably won’t produce another origin story right away for the same reason they didn’t make a Spider-Man origin story after getting the rights to that character. But they could very well produce a Fantastic Four movie that skips over their origin.
They could also introduce the Fantastic Four via another team-up movie and then spin off from there into a standalone film, similar to how Marvel introduced Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War before giving him his own movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In addition, Marvel Studios will gain access to all of the other characters featured in the Fantastic Four comics, including Silver Surfer.
2. Doctor Doom
Since Fox owns the rights to the Fantastic Four, they also own the rights to Doctor Doom. This is arguably an even more significant get for Marvel than the Fantastic Four, because, in the comics, Doctor Doom is a hugely significant villain who often appears without the Fantastic Four being present at all.
As Marvel fans have speculated about what storylines might be adapted into movies going forward, many inevitably reached a roadblock when they realize a story they want to see on screen relies heavily on Doctor Doom, a character the company doesn’t have access to. For example, there was a theory that Marvel might adapt the 2004 comic series Avengers Disassembled for the fourth Avengers film. But the villain of this story is Doctor Doom, making a direct adaptation of it impossible at the moment.
Doctor Doom is such a monumental presence in the comics that he could now become the next “big bad,” just as Thanos has been the “big bad” of the first three phases.
Another villain Marvel Studios gets is Galactus, who first appeared in a Fantastic Four comic series in 1966. He’s a cosmic being who feeds off planets in order to sustain his power. Generally considered to be one of the greatest Marvel antagonists, IGN ranked Galactus as the fifth best comic book villain of all time (and that’s not even just Marvel villains).
Though he was introduced in the Fantastic Four comics, Galactus has also popped up in plenty of other storylines including ones with the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and he also had a part in the Infinity War.
As Marvel continues to struggle to introduce villains who are truly menacing and memorable, the biggest upside to this sale may be the ability to draw on the Fantastic Four comic villains after the defeat of Thanos. Other notable Fantastic Four villains include Annihilus, Namor, the Frightful Four, and Mole Man.
Under this sale, Marvel Studios also now has the rights to Wolverine, another character that has belonged to 20th Century Fox. This acquisition comes just as Fox theoretically said goodbye to Wolverine in Logan, a film that served as the mutant’s swan song and Hugh Jackman’s last time playing the character.
Marvel will have to start with a clean slate for the character by introducing Wolverine into the MCU with a new actor. Jackman has already said he won’t play Wolverine again, not even for Disney.
In the comic books, Wolverine has had plenty of interactions with the broader universe of characters. He was introduced in an Incredible Hulk comic, after all, and he has been a member of The Avengers. But it remains to be seen whether Marvel Studios would want to bring Wolverine back on screen so soon after Logan or if they’d want to give him a rest before coming up with a new version.
Storm can also now be a part of the MCU. So far, she has been limited to the X-Men series of films, being portrayed by Halle Berry in X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. She was also portrayed by Alexandra Shipp in X-Men: Apocalypse.
The reason Storm’s potential involvement in the MCU is particularly noteworthy is because of her relationship with Black Panther. In a comic book storyline in the 2000s, Storm actually marries Black Panther, years after she saved him when she was 12 years old. Black Panther and Storm temporarily join the Fantastic Four during this time, as Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman take a hiatus from the group.
Black Panther, of course, was introduced into the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, and his solo film, Black Panther, is Marvel’s next release after Thor: Ragnarok. Due to Storm’s relationship with him, Marvel could theoretically introduce her into the movie universe as a love interest without the need to make a full-fledged X-Men film yet.
6. All of the other X-Men
This deal gives Marvel Studios access to literally hundreds of characters, as Disney gets the whole X-Men franchise. That means characters like Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Jean Gray, and many, many others all have the potential to show up in forthcoming Marvel movies.
Fox already had grand plans for the X-Men on screen, slating X-Men: Dark Phoenix as the next movie in the series, scheduled for release in November 2018. They also began plans on a Gambit film starring Channing Tatum, an X-Force film, and a potential X-23 film. In 2019, the studio will release The New Mutants, an X-Men horror film.
All of the films Fox was planning that have not been shot will likely be scrapped now, and the X-Men will probably just be brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than being its own series. Some fans have suggested the X-Men are better kept separate, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige previously said he wants the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in the MCU.
The character that fans immediately began worrying about the most after the news of the Disney sale is Deadpool. After all, Marvel Studios has still never released an R-rated movie. So could Deadpool remain as hilariously filthy going forward, or will Disney sanitize him?
What seems like the most likely option is that Disney could keep releasing Deadpool movies as a separate thing under the 20th Century Fox banner so that they’re not associated with the Disney brand. But then Deadpool could still show up in the Marvel Studios movies, breaking the fourth wall and being less R-rated when he’s fighting alongside Spider-Man and the gang.
After all, it’s difficult to imagine that Disney would want to release a movie as dirty as Deadpool under the Marvel Cinematic Universe brand, which has included some adult jokes but has mostly been family-friendly up until this point. The first Deadpool was way too profitable for Disney to just abandon the franchise, but this might be the one character that doesn’t join the Marvel Studios universe permanently.
8. Virtually every other character that’s not from the Spider-Man series
There are so many other characters that are now available to Marvel Studios under this deal, it’s actually way too many to list. In fact, Marvel Studios now basically has access to every single comic book character you can think of except for those owned by Sony.
Sony Pictures still owns the rights to Spider-Man, making three movies in the 2000s and two reboots with Andrew Garfield in 2012 and 2014. After The Amazing Spider-Man 2 disappointed financially, Sony negotiated a deal with Marvel that would allow Spider-Man to appear in the MCU.
Many are under the impression that Sony sold the character to Marvel, which is not the case. Sony still owns Spider-Man, which is why Spider-Man: Homecoming starts off with the Sony logo. However, Sony is allowing the character to appear in Marvel movies. They’re also making Spider-Man films in conjunction with Marvel, with Homecoming being their first collaboration. Still, Sony plans to continue making their own films featuring Spider-Man characters, with a Venom movie coming in 2018.
Since Sony still has the rights to Spider-Man, we won’t be seeing Spider-Man characters in the MCU unless Sony specifically allows it. But with the Disney purchase of Fox, Marvel will have access to virtually every other character from their comic books other than Spider-Man and the gang, very nearly reaching the point where the films can emulate exactly what’s on the page.
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