21st Century Fox agreed to sell its film and television divisions to Disney earlier this week, a deal that will include the handing over of the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Deadpool rights to Disney-owned Marvel Studios.
The regulatory process behind the purchase is estimated to take between 12 and 18 months, and the $52.4 billion dollar deal is facing opposition from Congress members pushing for hearings about the "industry-changing merger."
There are at least nearly a dozen ways the formerly Fox-owned characters can be brought into Marvel's shared universe, and Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn has already hinted at previously restricted characters he might utilize in the future.
Marvel has introduced an impressive number of Marvel Comics characters throughout their ever-growing filmography, but there's still a good number of characters yet to make the jump into the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and now, with almost every Marvel character under Marvel Studios' control, here's ten characters that should join Earth's mightiest heroes on the big screen:
One of Marvel Comics' premiere heroes (and sometimes villain) has yet to make a splash in live-action: Namor the Submariner.
Namor's screen rights might be entangled in some legal mumbo jumbo, but Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada said — to the best of his knowledge — Namor's rights are at home with Marvel Studios.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige noted in 2014 the situation surrounding Namor was "complicated," saying: “Let’s put it this way – there are entanglements that make it less easy. There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it. As opposed to an Iron Man or any of the Avengers or any of the other Marvel characters where we could just put them in.”
To put it succinctly, Marvel Studios could make a Namor movie if they really wanted. The aquatic superhero has come into conflict with everyone from the Fantastic Four to Black Panther to the Avengers, meaning he could fit in virtually anywhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Christopher Summers — father of frequent X-Men leader Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops — was a pilot whose plane was attacked by members of the alien Shi'ar Empire during a flight home after a family vacation. Mutant brothers Scott and Alex would survive, but the boys' mother, Katherine, would be abducted and later killed by Emperor D'Ken.
Christopher later escaped enslavement from mine pits and established the Starjammers, a band of space pirates that committed space piracy against Shi'ar vessels.
When the mutant super group has made their way into space, the X-Men have faced the Shi'ar, the insectoid aliens known as the Brood, and Kallark the Gladiator of the Shi'ar's Imperial Guard — all material worthy of being mined for the big screen.
Power Pack — Katie, Jack, Julie and Alex Power — are a little-known fun-sized super group.
The Power siblings are gifted fantastic powers by a dying Kymellian, who entrusts the kids to save the world from an invading force of aliens known as the Snarks. Power Pack would be a subset of the genre even Marvel Studios has yet to explore — kid superheroes — and family-friendly Marvel Studios would be the ones to pull off a younger spin on the superhero merry-go-round.
A report from earlier this year suggested Marvel Studios is developing a Power Pack movie with a "Spy Kids-like story," but Marvel has yet to officially announce the project.
Another X-Men hallmark capable of carrying their own movie is their most famous and frequent enemy: Magneto.
Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Max Eisenhardt, survived the Holocaust as a young mutant before later emerging as a more radical mutant leader who would oppose the peaceful ideals of X-Men leader and close friend Charles Xavier.
Incorporating Magneto into a modern day Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn't be able to hold onto the character's history as a Holocaust survivor, but Max Eisenhardt could hail from a fictional eastern European country — maybe even Sokovia — where he was subjugated to an oppressive government that unjustly imprisoned its mutants.
It would be a way to maintain Magneto's tragic backstory while modernizing it, and giving Magneto ties to an established part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would help integrate the concept of mutants into a universe that has operated for a decade without them.
Teenager Kamala Khan is a relatively new fan-favorite creation from the House of Ideas, occupying the ID formerly donned by Carol Danvers (a.k.a. Captain Marvel). Danvers is on her way to the big screen in 2019's Captain Marvel, and fangirl Kamala is a character ready to make the jump to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: she stars in one of Marvel's top-selling digital titles, and there's a chance the young heroine makes her live-action debut on the small screen — it just might take some time.
Kamala has ties to the Inhumans, and the failure of the recent ABC show could put a damper on any potential Kamala Khan outings in live-action.
Still, the young hero is diverse in more ways than one — she's Pakistani-American and she's on the younger side of superhero-ing, a concept Marvel has only recently begun to delve further into with projects like Spider-Man: Homecoming and Runaways — and the energetic and amiable Ms. Marvel could have a future in TV or the movies if given a chance.
African superhero Storm, a.k.a. Ororo Monroe, is among the most iconic and popular of all the X-Men. The weather-altering mutant has a storied history that includes beginnings as an orphan who hails from an ancient line of African priestesses. A young Ororo operated as a small scale thief in a gang of street urchins in Cairo, Egypt, and later opposed the Shadow King — a powerful manifestation of the dark side of the human consciousnesses that often plagued Ororo's future team mates, the X-Men.
Ororo's global travels brought her to the Savage Land and Africa, where she would be seen as a goddess and would later marry King T'Challa of Wakanda — a.k.a. the Black Panther. The weather-wielding Storm will likely be part of Marvel Studios' inevitable X-Men franchise, but she's a character capable of carrying her own franchise, too.
Bruce Banner's cousin, Jennifer Walters, eventually came to possess Hulk-like abilities of her own after a transfusion of blood from her gamma-powered cousin.
Unlike Bruce, Jen didn't devolve into a rage monster with her abilities, maintaining her smarts and mild-mannered alter ego at all times. The green-skinned beauty emerged as a prestigious lawyer, and would go on to serve as a member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and A-Force.
Because of a distribution deal with Universal, Marvel Studios is able to utilize the Hulk in team-up movies — but any solo movie would have to be distributed by Universal Pictures instead of Walt Disney Pictures.
Marvel Studios gets around the caveat by giving Mark Ruffalo's Hulk his own trilogy across Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, but Marvel has the freedom to use supporting Hulk characters like Everett Ross in Captain America: Civil War — meaning they could break out She-Hulk whenever they want.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe already has two Ghost Riders — Robbie Reyes first popped up on TV's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., followed by original Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze — but the character deserves more than an infrequent guest spot on an ABC television show.
After two poorly-received cinematic outings with Nicolas Cage — Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — Johnny Blaze could use a much-needed live-action revival.
Ghost Rider would be a perfect addition to the darker side of the franchise in Netflix's TV-MA corner of the otherwise PG-13 Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the acquisition of Fox could possibly lead to an R-rated Marvel Knights label — giving the fiery skull rider another chance to rev up on the big screen.
Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, hails from the peaceful planet Zenn-La — a utopia that was under threat from planet-eater Galactus, the devourer of worlds.
A council from Radd's homeplanet allowed him to approach Galactus and plead for his planet's survival, something Galactus allowed with one caveat: Radd must serve him as one of the heralds of Galactus. Radd accepted, becoming the cosmically-powered Silver Surfer.
The character could be introduced in a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel and spun off into his own feature (ala Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther), or he could make an eventual appearance in a Disney-owned Fantastic Four franchise. However he eventually surfs into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it'll be a long time coming: 2007's botched Rise of the Silver Surfer just didn't cut it.
Johnny Storm, a.k.a. the fiery Human Torch, is the hot-headed kid brother of the Fantastic Four.
Johnny started out as a brash teen who later evolved into one of the Marvel Universe's most experienced heroes, having helped save countless worlds, galaxies and realities alongside older sister Susan Storm, brother-in-law Reed Richards, and best friend slash frequent pranking victim Ben Grimm.
Marvel Studios will likely reboot the Fantastic Four and do Marvel's first family justice, and letting the characters operate in a wider Marvel Universe would allow for Johnny to take part in some of his famous comic book friendships — like the one he has with the down-to-Earth Spider-Man.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and Johnny Storm could team up in Spider-Man 3, or Marvel Studios could really embrace the idea of Marvel Team-Up and ignite a Spider-Man/Human Torch movie.