You wouldn’t believe it now, but back in the 1990s Marvel Comics were hemorrhaging money. The comic book boom had died down, sales were dwindling and the future was uncertain. But like an RKO outta nowhere, salvation came knocking on the door of the House of Ideas. With Blade being a critical success at the box office, Hollywood wanted to take a gamble with another comic book property.
That film was X-Men, which further paved the way for an industry that has a love affair with spandex and shared universes lately. All of a sudden, everyone wanted a superhero movie, and rights to certain characters were sold off to any studio who had the cash. That may have resulted in plenty of flicks being produced, but it also created a legal nightmare for the future of these characters.
These days however, Disney owns the rights to most of their characters. Spider-Man is now sharing custody between them and Sony, while FOX still retains control over the movie rights of the children of the atom and any other character associated with mutants. Something which was a bit of a problem, as both Marvel and Fox wanted something from the other.
In the case of FOX, it was Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the coolest-named mutant to ever live. While they could use the name for Deadpool, they needed to alter her powers for the flick, according to writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese via ComicBookMovie. That required asking permission from Marvel, who wanted to play a game of quid pro quo in exchange.
Fox could turn Negasonic Teenage Warhead into an actual psionic weapon of mass destruction, if they gave over the rights to Ego The Living Planet to Marvel. Y’know, that character who’ll have a major part to play in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and will be played by Kurt Russell on the big screen. A character that director James Gunn believed that Marvel had access to all along. “When I first pitched Ego as Quill’s father, I THOUGHT we owned the character,” Gunn said on his Facebook page.
After I had worked out a very elaborate story with Ego the Living Planet as a very important part of the Marvel cosmic universe, I learned that we actually didn’t own the character. I had no back up plan, and it would be nearly impossible to just drop another character in. Thank God Fox came to us and wanted to make a trade.
Anyway, Fox got to tinker with a mutant, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 got a heavy-hitter of a daddy for Chris Pratt’s Star Lord to reunite with. Happy endings for everyone. But the real kicker here? Maybe one day Fox and Marvel can work together to give the X-Men a new lease of life. Something that would benefit everyone.