Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: James Gunn Reveals He Didn't Know Marvel Studios Didn't Own the Rights to Ego When He Wrote the Script

James Gunn is currently working on the long-awaited Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is expected to go into production soon. This will mark Gunn's third movie with Marvel, but a lot has changed since the first Guardians hit theaters back in 2014. In 2019, Disney merged with 20th Century Studios, which meant Marvel won back the rights to many characters, most notably, the X-Men. Turns out, when Gunn was writing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there was some miscommunication, and he used Ego (Kurt Russell) despite Marvel not having the rights.

"Is this the birth of Galactus?!," one fan asked Gunn about a scene in Guardians of the Galaxy. "No. Marvel didn't have the rights to Galactus in 2014. Just another example of comic book pareidolia – in the millions & millions of comic book panels that exist & the millions & millions of shots in films there is bound to be an enormous amount of coincidental overlap," Gunn explained. This led to more conversations about Marvel and character rights.

"Weren't rights swapped, where FOX had Ego the Living Planet and Marvel had Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and they traded? Heard that one time," another fan asked. "Yes that's essentially true. If I recall correctly, Fox wanted TNW to be able to use her powers, which were partially owned by Marvel (these things are complex), & they let us use Ego in return... not knowing I had already made him the antagonist in #GotGVol2," Gunn shared. "I was told we owned the character, which was a mistake. I didn't find out we didn't have the rights to the character until after the deal was made. Thank God because he was deeply imbedded in the script." 

When asked if he had a contingency plan, Gunn replied, "I didn't because I had no idea the rights were an issue. Had it changed before I started writing I could have figured out something else – but this was weeks before production. I think @DavidAyerMovies knows how hard it can be to change an antagonist right before shooting!" You can check out the tweet thread below:

Back in September, Karen Gillan (Nebula) shared that the third installment of the Guardians trilogy is "so emotional" that when she read the script along with Pom Klementieff (Mantis), they were both in "floods of tears." After that quote went viral, Gunn took to Twitter with a hilarious reaction. "Or maybe they just got paper cuts," Gunn tweeted. "I hope it's not because they thought they had too few lines because honestly their roles are both pretty huge and it seems greedy."

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently scheduled to be released on May 23, 2023