Disney is preparing to buy 21st Century Fox, with a deal rumored to be announced on Thursday. While this acquisition could have a lasting negative impact on the entertainment industry as a whole, it remains an exciting affair for longtime fans of Marvel comics.
For the first time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will finally be able to utilize all of the characters that appear in the comic books.
Fox currently owns the rights to many of Marvel's biggest characters and, over the years, the studio has developed multiple films with those properties. Disney, on the other hand, owns Marvel studios and, with it, the rights to the majority of characters from the comics.
If the deal goes through, Disney and Marvel Studios would retain the rights to just about every character in the history of Marvel Comics.
Which characters does that include, exactly? Let's break it down:
Wolverine has always been one of the most popular characters in the X-Men comics, but it was the film series that turned him into a pop culture icon.
Hugh Jackman received multitudes of praise and adoration for his take on the role. The actor portrayed the Wolverine in a total of nine movies, spanning 17 years.
Marvel fans would love to see the clawed mutant in the MCU at some point soon, but the biggest challenge will still remain after the acquisition of Fox is complete.
Someone will need to replace Jackman in the role, since he has already confirmed that Logan will remain his final X-Men film. No matter how talented an actor is, he's going to have a difficult time filling the shoes of the only Wolverine fans have ever known.
Many would argue that the Fantastic Four are an even better fit for the MCU than the X-Men. When you consider the light-hearted tone of the characters, as well as their heavy involvement in most of the major storylines in Marvel Comics, it's hard to disagree.
Under Fox, the Fantastic Four have never really been brought to life in the way that comic fans have hoped. All three films featuring the characters were disappointing to say the least.
While the Fantastic Four certainly belong with Marvel, there is one hiccup that goes beyond the Fox acquisition. The Fantastic Four rights are actually co-owned by Fox and a smaller production company called Constantin Film. Marvel would need to orchestrate some kind of deal or buyout with Constantin before being allowed to use the characters in any MCU film.
With the backing of Disney, this doesn't seem like too much of a hurdle.
Cable is set to make his cinematic debut in Deadpool 2 next summer, but the fan-favorite character could immediately come into the MCU and make a major difference.
The thing to remember about Cable is that he is known for his abilities as a time traveller. That gives the MCU a unique opportunity to explain a lot of the changes that are about to face the franchise.
Doctor Strange's Time Stone is the only form of time travel we've seen in the MCU films to this point, and we know that Thanos is going to eventually take that away. Cable could come into the fold, being the only known form of time travel in the universe, and help bridge the gap between the X-Men characters and the other Avengers. This would also help bring back characters who might die in Avengers 4, if Marvel ever chooses to do so.
The one complaint people have had about Marvel films over the years is that the franchise isn't really sure how to handle villains. With the exception of Loki, Red Skull and maybe Ego, none of the bad guys have been all that interesting.
Fortunately, the acquisition of the Fantastic Four rights means that Marvel would have access to one of its greatest comic villains, Dr. Doom.
Doom could easily enter the MCU and pose a massive threat to most of its characters and, like Loki, would have the ability to stay interesting over the course of multiple movies.
Honestly, this guy could sustain an entire franchise arc, playing both sides of the fence, and no comic fan would be disappointed.
After Avengers 4, Thanos will be a thing of the past and the heroes of the MCU will need a new mega-villain to take on.
Luckily, Galactus could fill that void without a second thought. The all-powerful villain is a bit like Thanos, but his motives are different. Instead of trying to impress Death, or gain total control of the universe, Galactus consumes worlds in order to stay alive.
This constant, sometimes desperate need for energy could make for an even more dangerous adversary than Thanos.
Yes, siblings Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch already exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the former was killed after just one movie.
However, if the companies combine, the opportunity to combine Evan Peters' Quicksilver with Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch would be too good to pass up.
There's also the chance that Marvel could really dive into the relationship that the twins have with their father, Magneto, something that hasn't been explored in the movies with any kind of depth.
This is one property where things get complicated.
Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool took the world by storm with their solo film in 2016, but the movie was celebrated for its violent tone and R-rated dialogue. This doesn't exactly add up with Marvel's PG-13 universe.
Marvel Studios would either need to allow the Deadpool films to continue as they are, or the character would need to be toned down and shoved into the MCU. The second option would probably push away fans, as well as Reynolds himself. Hopefully Marvel sees that and allows that series of films to run its course on some kind. However, this option would likely allow other MCU characters to stumble into Deadpool's movies.
With the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel is moving forward with an entire universe of cosmic-based properties. In Marvel comics, no cosmic character is more popular than Silver Surfer.
Initially a villain to the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer eventually turned into a hero in the comics, allowing him to become a major part of most team-up storylines.
Silver Surfer has already missed out on Planet Hulk, and he won't likely get added to the Avengers: Infinity War roster. Fortunately, this acquisition means that the character won't have to miss any more of his biggest stories when they move to the big screen.
The relationship between Tony Stark and Captain America was a major point of tension throughout the MCU films leading up to Infinity War. Once they're gone, a new rivalry will need to emerge.
This is where Magneto and Charles Xavier come in.
Best friends-turned-enemies, these to characters have carried the story of the X-Men universe since 2000. Marvel could start that process all over by recasting them and putting them in the MCU, giving fans a new and compelling story that will last for years.
We've mentioned a few key X-Men already, but there are so many more characters that would be wonderful additions to the MCU.
The core group of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Nightcrawler, Iceman and Mystique would all easily fit into the kind of stories Marvel Studios has been telling. It would seamless to fit them inside the already-existing universe.
Lesser-known variations of the X-Men team like X-Force, New Mutants and Alpha Flight would allow Marvel to branch out into new genres. This gives the studio more than enough options to last for decades.