Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox's film and television divisions was officially announced Thursday, officially bringing the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the Marvel Comics properties will "expand" the Marvel Cinematic Universe, giving Disney-owned Marvel Studios the opportunity to use a plethora of characters — both big and small — that were previously off-limits.
Guardians of the Galaxy franchise writer-director James Gunn is already eyeing some characters freed by the deal — including the Silver Surfer — that could be used as part of the ever-expanding cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney's purchase will give the studio access to not only the heroes whose rights were controlled by Fox — Wolverine and the X-Men, Deadpool, the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer — they'll also obtain some of Marvel Comics' biggest villains.
One of the most appealing aspects of the deal will be the induction of Victor von Doom — aka the nefarious Doctor Doom — into Marvel's shared universe. Arguably the most famous villain of the Marvel Comics library, Doctor Doom has squared off with almost every major hero of the Marvel Universe.
Primarily the archfoe of the Fantastic Four — and a staunch opponent of his most hated rival, Reed Richards — Doom has also run afoul of the Avengers, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Daredevil and the X-Men.
He's had run-ins with Marvel heroes both big and small, and Doom is the kind of villain capable of fitting into almost any franchise: he's as at home in a Fantastic Four movie as he would be serving as the villain of sequels for Doctor Strange — perhaps as a rival sorcerer — or Black Panther, maybe as a rival foreign ruler.
With the interconnected nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doom could square off against the Fantastic Four and later launch a plot so malevolent it would unite Earth's mightiest heroes against him in Avengers 5.
Marvel Studios opened the cosmic floodgates with 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, upping the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe even further with this year's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok — both of which had their fair share of Jack Kirby influence.
Among Kirby's biggest creations is Galactus, the planet-eating cosmic entity who first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four. Galactus looks like a large man in a pink and purple getup, something Marvel Studios would be able to pull off and sell in spades in the context of their shared universe.
The heroes of the MCU will already face off against a potentially universe-ending threat in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, and such a massive team-up may be a "one-time deal" — but if Marvel were ever in need of another galactic-sized threat, it's hard to get much bigger than Galactus.
Galactus could even be used without the need for uniting all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: he could pop up in a Fantastic Four movie, where an alien planet — either in the far-reaches of space or embedded within the Negative Zone — is in danger of being consumed by Galactus, forcing Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny to do what they do and save that planet in fantastic fashion.
Another Fantastic Four foe, Annihilus has yet to appear on screen: the bug-like alien is the lord of the Negative Zone, which could provide a whole new avenue for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to explore. Ant-Man and Doctor Strange were already connected by way of the Quantum Realm, and the introduction of the Negative Zone could mean all kinds of trippy business for our heroes.
Annihilus was one of the characters at the center of Marvel Comics' big cosmic-focused Annihilation event, and his invading army — the Annihilation Wave — was a cosmic level threat, one that would make an opportune team up between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Fantastic Four.
The X-Men's arch foe (and sometimes ally) was used to the point of exhaustion in Fox's X-Men franchise, but the character will receive a second life when he's inevitably utilized by Marvel Studios. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver made their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron — where they became superhumans by way of HYDRA experimentation, and didn't share the mutant heritage of their comic book counterparts — but in the comics, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff are the children of Magneto.
The supervillain could be retconned as the Maximoff siblings' true father, whether or not he has ties to Sokovia; or Marvel Studios could continue to forgo that relationship entirely and simply introduce Magneto as the X-Men's greatest (and most recurring) foe — one capable of going toe-to-toe with any of the franchise's biggest heroes.