How many characters does Marvel Studios have the rights to use in its MCU? The answer is a staggering 7,000. That’s a 7,000-strong pool from which the studio’s head, Kevin Feige, has had to choose from each time the franchise has added new heroes to its ever expanding roster. The upcoming Avengers: Infinity War will have a record 40 superheroes take to the big screen at once, and if that doesn’t seem like enough, Marvel may very well be adding the X-Men and Fantastic Four to the mix in the coming years. Following Disney’s December deal with 21st Century Fox, to buy the majority of its film and TV divisions, the two currently Fox-owned Marvel comics properties look set to join the MCU in the future, but when exactly can we expect to see that happen?
It is important to stress that the deal is actually still in the process of being approved by the government, but in the likely event that it goes through Marvel will be both celebrating that it will have the ability to put the likes of fan-favourites Wolverine, Magneto, Galactus, Silver Surfer and many more on screen alongside its already established comic book characters, but also fretting with trying to fit them into its busy Phase-by-Phase schedule. Infinity War marks the beginning of the end for the MCU‘s Phase 3 (begun with Captain America: Civil War) that culminates the ongoing Infinity Stone Story Arc, along with various other sub-plots, but with Marvel’s forward thinking planning it’s more than likely that a slate for Phase 4 and 5 is already in place. What we currently know about Phase 4 is that it may not be called Phase 4, with Feige alluding to the franchise reinventing itself, but in terms of the titles currently planned after Avengers 4 (2019), there’s a Spider-Man sequel scheduled for July 5th, 2019, along with Guardians 3 and Black Widow which have yet to be given release dates.
So, could the mutants and the Fantastics wiggle their way in here? It’s more than likely that the Disney/Fox deal will take longer than the Phase 4 timescale, but Phase 5 looks like a possibility. The latest comments from Feige, speaking with Playlist while promoting Infinity War, have confirmed that it will be a long time before we see X-Men and Fantastic Four characters pop up in the MCU.
Being asked whether or not they could show up as early as Phase 4, Feige said:
“No, because any of that deal would take a while to get going and years from whenever and if ever it happens. So, certainly it won’t impact the five movies we’ve announced, and it probably wouldn’t impact anything for a handful of years after that. Because really, we’re not thinking about that. We’re thinking of delivering on what we promised. Any movie, especially for any characters we don’t have the rights to yet until someone tells us we do, would be even further after that.”
Feige seems to be taking a sensible approach in holding off plans for the soon-to-be acquired characters until the deal officially goes through, choosing to not get ahead of himself and keep the focus on the characters that the studio already has the rights to. Of course, there’s little doubt that the Marvel Studios mastermind will be giving some thought to it though, given that Disney chief Bob Iger has already publicly stated that the new characters would be joining the MCU upon the deal’s completion.
More on the Disney/Fox deal as it unfolds.