Recently, a rumor popped up claiming that Marvel's Silver Surfer would appear in Avengers: Infinity War, which was a dubious claim, to put it lightly. However, thanks to the press tour for Infinity War taking place in the UK, we now have directors the Russo Bros. Weighing in on the matter.
As Joe Russo told Yahoo UK:
“I don’t think we own Silver Surfer. But it’s fan-wish fulfillment and, you know, if this Disney-Fox deal goes through there’s going to be a lot more characters coming into the Marvel universe, so some of those crazy fan theories might come true.”
So there you have it: As most fans surmised when this rumor first appeared: the logistics of Marvel character ownership makes it all but impossible for Silver Surfer to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - at least at this time. As the Russos indicate, the deal for Disney to acquire 20th Century Fox is still in the works - but when it's done, then we could indeed see the Surfer (and so many other characters) finally joining the MCU.
The reason this particular fan theory is running so strongly is that because in the original "Infinity Gauntlet" storyline, it is the Silver Surfer who comes crashing to Earth, falling into Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, with a dire warning about Thanos' mission to gather the Infinity Gems. In the MCU, that role of a hero crashing into Doctor Strange's lair will be fulfilled by Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, for the obvious reason that Silver Surfer is not available.
20th Century Fox got the Silver Surfer along with the other characters connected to the Fantastic Four franchise - one of two franchises the studio owns. The other would be the X-Men movie franchise, with its extensive stable of characters. Both of those franchises are particularly rich with characters (heroes and villains) who have helped flesh out the Marvel Cosmic Universe - a particular brand that has grown strong for Marvel Studios, thanks to properties like Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy (and soon, Captain Marvel).
That's all to say: expect Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Skrulls, Annihulus and many others to one day appear in Marvel movies, alongside the likes of Thor and Thanos.
Marvel Studios' Black Panther is now playing in theaters. Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27, 2018. It is followed by Ant-Man and The Wasp on July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, Avengers 4 on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.