This month, Disney officially completed the acquisition of Fox. There are a lot of repercussions, and it has become a dividing event. There are certainly many people who are going to be negatively impacted by Fox’s decision to sell, namely those employees who are now looking for new work. However, the deal also presents an enormous opportunity for Marvel. Decades ago, Marvel Comics sold the film rights for many of their characters in order to stay afloat. They obviously could not anticipate the gargantuan industry for superhero films that would take place, thanks very largely to Marvel Studio’s introduction of a vast interconnected universe of superhero movies.
Among those rights sold were Spider-Man, who is owned by Sony Pictures, but was introduced into Disney’s MCU in Captain America: Civil War thanks to a deal made between the two companies. This crossover led many to hope that Disney would be able to make a similar deal in order to share the rights to their other popular characters that were sold off. While Sony owns the Spider-Verse, Fox has been the longstanding owner of flagship superhero teams the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, among various other characters. Disney’s acquisition of Fox brings the vast majority of Marvel’s rogue superheroes back into the fold. This means that in the near future, the X-Men, the Avengers, Deadpool, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four can all presumably share the big screen. These are the five encounters between the established MCU and their newly purchased characters that I anticipate the most.
5. Wolverine and Hulk
Wolverine is largely seen as the face of the X-Men, and has been the primary focus of Fox’s previous films within the X-Men universe. For this reason, many casual fans of the films aren’t aware that the character was actually introduced by one of the most popular Avengers. In the mid nineteen seventies, Wolverine made his debut in issues #180-181 of The Incredible Hulk as a Canadian superhero whose first mission is to eliminate the Hulk after a confrontation with Wendigo left a Hulk-sized trail of destruction in their paths. It was later that he would join the X-Men and become an icon.
The impending introduction of the X-Men has many fans speculating as to how Marvel will bring these new characters into the fold. I believe that it could be incredibly interesting if Marvel introduced Wolverine in a similar manner as the comics. It could certainly work. To this point, all of Marvel’s characters have conveniently been American, save for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (who are actually mutants in the comics, and the children of the X-Men’s primary antagonist, Magneto). The concept of other countries’ reaction to the Avengers was explored slightly in Captain America: Civil War with the Sakovian Accords. However, the Accords haven’t been much of a factor since that point, save for Captain America sporting a magnificent outlaw beard in Infinity War. To have Logan encounter a rampaging Hulk in the Canadian forest would be an impactful debut for the most iconic of the X-Men.
Hulk has repeatedly been used as somewhat of a device in order to establish other characters’ power in the Marvel Universe. In The Avengers, it was Thor who took on the Hulk to a basic stalemate. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor stopped the Hulk who was rampaging in a populated city under Scarlet Witch’s influence. That same armor would coincidentally reappear in Infinity War, but this time sported by Bruce Banner himself in human form. The suit allowed Banner to best Black Dwarf, the “Hulk” of Thanos’ Black Order. In that same film, Hulk appeared only once. This time Hulk challenged Thanos himself. The ease with which Thanos handled the Green Goliath shocked audiences and firmly established him as a force that would require the full strength of the Avengers to even stand a chance. A similar confrontation would mark Wolverine’s place in a much larger universe.
4. Captain Marvel and Rogue
Rogue and Captain Marvel have a long adversarial relationship in the comic books. In order to understand that relationship, it has to be explained that Rogue’s comic book counterpart is vastly different than the Rogue as depicted on film. Originally, Rogue was the villainous Mystique’s adopted daughter. And it was because of her mother that Rogue first met Carol Danvers. The two superheroines clashed, and Rogue was able to get her hands on Captain Marvel. Rogue is able to temporarily steal the powers of others through skin on skin contact, except this time, Rogue held on to Carol for too long. Rogue permanently gained Captain Marvel’s ability to fly, an ability she does not have thus far on film. Carol’s fate was less fortunate, however. Rogue essentially stole Carol’s life. She was left without her memories, and without her powers for a time. Having Carol’s memories as her own did give Rogue some of her own issues, which eventually led her to Charles Xavier, though it doesn’t really compare to Captain Marvel. Carol would seek help from Xavier as well before Rogue. This caused quite a rift when Charles took Rogue in and made her a member of his team.
The two women would encounter each other again and it would inevitably lead to more conflict. I don’t necessarily expect or want the same kind of relationship on film as we have in the comics. Particularly, Carol’s memory loss. This is a subplot we’ve already just seen her film debut Captain Marvel and isn’t something that needs to be rehashed. However, the clash would be a very cool way to give Rogue her comic accurate powers and set up a seed of dissonance between the X-Men and the Avengers, who have conflicted at times in the comic books. This would be perfect as an Avengers vs X-Men film has been rumored recently. The fight would be natural either as a set up for the war to come or a byproduct of the war itself.
3. Storm and Black Panther
The first encounter on this list that isn’t antagonistic, Black Panther and Storm could mark the bridge between the Avengers and X-Men. While Nakia was introduced as Black Panther’s love interest on screen, in the comics, Storm was his wife and Queen of Wakanda. While the two are now divorced, their wedding was a powerful union, not only for the two, but for the X-Men and Avengers as well. The wedding took place during the first Civil War storyline in the comics, and brought both sides of the conflict over superhuman registration together for the day. To this day, it’s one of the higher profile relationships in Marvel Comics
The two first got together as children, when Storm rescued the then Prince of Wakanda from kidnappers. They became friends, but Storm would eventually go her own way. It was years later that Black Panther proposed and six years after that when they divorced. The Avengers vs X-Men event was the cause, and their separation proved how inextricable the two teams were at the time. While the marriage marked a remarkable union and their divorce an equally remarkable discord, the wedding can do the reverse on film. Following the events of Black Panther, a swift proposal to Storm wouldn’t be very organic considering his budding relationship with childhood sweetheart, Nakia. However, this provides an opportunity for resolution between the sides presumably following an Avengers vs. X-Men film. Nakia may be his love interest for now, but if the film arc is anything like the comics, Nakia will betray T’Challa and become one of his greater adversaries known as Malice. I predict this to be the case regardless of what happens between Black Panther and Storm. Black Panther was an international phenomenon and the character is a huge part of the MCU moving forward. It’ll be difficult to follow up he first film, particularly because of the astounding performance of Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger. Black Panther will need more villains considering Killmonger’s death, and the depiction of longtime Panther villain M’Baku as a fan favorite ally to the hero. Seeing Malice vs Black Panther play out on the screen would be effective.
Overall, T’Challa’s relationship with Nakia doesn’t pose a huge obstacle for him and Storm. Neither does the opinion of the current actress portraying Storm, Alexandria Shipp. She recently voiced her desire that the Storm and Black Panther relationship not play out in the MCU. This is understandable considering the significant age difference between herself and Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman. Shipp, however, along with everyone else currently depicting X-Men universe characters, is reportedly expected to be recast. The one exception being Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds.
2. Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde
While this is an encounter that I anticipate to be the least likely on this list to occur, a potential relationship between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde is still very enticing. Like that of Black Panther and Storm, Star Lord and Kitty’s relationship proved to be ill-fated. However, it was very significant, and can be even more so if depicted in the MCU. Peter, of course, is very much in love with Gamora in the movies (a union that does not exist in the comic books), and most people do anticipate that Gamora, along with Peter, will be resurrected in Avengers: Endgame. Gamora’s resurrection, however, is much less of a guarantee than the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, or any of the Avengers. While half of the universe was wiped out by “the decimation”, Gamora was thrown off of a cliff as a sacrifice in exchange for the soul stone. There is also no guarantee that the events of Infinity War won’t negatively affect her relationship to Peter moving forward. There could be a window for Peter to connect with Kitty ,even if temporarily.
The reason that this possibility is so important is the uniqueness of it. There are many ties between the Avengers and the X-Men. Many of the members are friends and even move from team to team on occasion. On the other hand, there are fewer, if any, ties between the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Following the controversial firing of Guardians director, James Gunn, there was speculation that Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 might not even happen. The film adaptation of the characters takes many liberties. Gunn’s vision, however, is beloved and full of heart and humor. His hiring opens the door for the Guardians of the Galaxy to remain a staple in the MCU for years to come, but also for Gunn to possibly tackle other Marvel properties. He’s expressed his desire to adapt the Silver Surfer, and giving Gunn more toys at his disposal is likely a good recipe for success. How the Guardians might fit into the MCU after the events of Endgame is questionable. Thanos was an intergalactic threat with ties to multiple Guardians. While Thor’s partnership with Groot and Rocket was phenomenal, and the latter will be promoted to the rank of an Avenger, there are no foreseen adversaries that would require another Guardians/Avengers team-up except for possibly Galactus or Kang the Conquerer. Dr. Doom, Magneto, and Apocalypse are all new villains who some expect to be formidable enough to require an Avengers/X-Men team-up, but they are all Earthbound. Something strong enough to tie the Guardians to Earth would be immeasurable and something tying the Guardians to the incumbent new characters would be even more so. A love like that between Star Lord and Kitty Pryde would be more than sufficient.
While it did not last for very long and does not have a very storied history, their relationship was no fluke. Peter, who has no superpowers, was becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the intergalactic threats that his Guardians were facing. At one point, Peter had the opportunity to gain cosmic powers from an artifact known as The Black Vortex and save his father’s homeworld, Spartax. Peter refuses to do so when he sees that, if he does, he and Kitty will not work out. Kitty is touched, but submits to the Vortex anyway in order to save Spartax. While the gesture was somewhat meaningless, it proved that Peter truly loved Kitty. The end of their relationship came abruptly, and Kitty has since gotten back with Colossus, but even a temporary tryst between the two would be an easy and rewarding way to keep the Guardians involved with the MCU’s earthlings.
Spider-Man and Johnny Storm
Spider-Man is a character with a lot of friends in the Marvel Universe. While he is mostly an independent superhero, his lack of a permanent team affiliation and his close relationship with so many heroes has allowed Spider-Man to temporarily join the ranks of the Avengers, the Defenders, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Fantastic Four, among others. The most important of these friendships is arguably that between Peter and the Fantastic Four, chiefly The Human Torch, Johnny Storm. Peter and Johnny are the same age and have frequently teamed up, sometimes hesitantly, but always to the great benefit of readers. Both characters are exceedingly sarcastic, making quips in any and every dire circumstance. While this contributed to the two being combative with one another at first, the two have since made my personal favorite “bromance”, and I hate myself for using that word, in Marvel Comics. this relationship came into bloom following the death of Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacey. The two were still somewhat antagonistic at the time, and were forced to team up. Peter would attribute Johnny Storm for being the first person to make him feel like himself following Gwen’s death.
Peter is probably the Fantastic Four’s most critical connection to the current MCU roster. That connection can be crucial as Marvel’s First Family tries to find its place in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. What makes the likelihood of them coming together on film so exciting is the fact that their rights were owned by separate companies, both independent of Disney. Four years ago the prospect of Spider-Man and the Avengers teaming up was a fantasy. Since then, that fantasy was that of the X-Men and Fantastic Four uniting with the Avengers. Never did I believe we would have the opportunity to see Spider-Man and the Human Torch team up. Ever. Now the opportunity has fans’ mouths watering.
Spider-Man first encountered the Fantastic Four in his very first solo issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. In an attempt to establish him as a hero, Spider-Man attempts to break into the Baxter Building and join the Fantastic Four. The quartet does not appreciate the gesture and a fight ensues. Spider-Man would eventually get his wish, actually multiple times. First when Reed leaves Earth in an attempt to find a key to stopping a colonial intergalactic threat and names Spider-Man his replacement. The most recent, however, was the most heartbreaking. Johnny sacrifices himself in order to stop Annihilus and his forces. In his will, Johnny asked that Peter Parker take his place in the Fantastic Four, which Parker obliges. This led to Peter donning the excellent “Future Foundation” suit, pictured above. There are countless interactions I can’t wait to see now that Marvel has the full rights to these characters back. Spider-Man and the Human Torch is far and away the one I’m most excited for.
Honorable Mentions: Spider-Man and Deadpool, Scarlet Witch and Magneto, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man, Magneto and Iron Man
These new characters are not expected to make their debut in the MCU until 2020 at the very earliest. Which encounters are you most excited for? Did I leave anyone out? Let us know in the comments below, or let me know personally on Twitter @abondination!