Marvel Studios may not own the film rights to the X-Men or Fantastic Four, but they have thousands of other characters that could one day come to theaters. The story of Marvel Studios' film and TV rights is a long and complex one, but the comics giant has been slowly regaining them over the years. By now, most of Marvel's heroes and villains are under their roof save Fox's ownership of various X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. There's also Sony's Spider-Man pantheon, though that's become a bit of a gray area due to recent events.
Despite some major characters not being able to show up in the MCU, Marvel Studios has done a masterful job of elevating a roster of heroes and villains to household names. And given their working relationship with both Sony and Fox, a uniting of the entire Marvel Universe doesn't seem unlikely. In the meantime, however, Marvel are gearing up for a team-up film like no other in Avengers: Infinity War. It's sequel, Avengers 4, will then wrap up the current iteration of the MCU—and kick off a new era of films.
As part of Vanity Fair's big MCU cover shoot, the magazine spoke with the minds behind Marvel Studios. Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Marvel owns the film rights to 7,000 characters, meaning there's no shortage of avenues the studio can explore. As for what shape those movies will take, Iger offered a hint of how things will operate in Phase 4.
“We’re looking for worlds that are completely separate—geographically or in time—from the worlds that we’ve already visited.”
Even if Disney's attempts to buy 20th Century Fox fall through and Spidey characters are left in their unique limbo, Marvel has created an abundance of heroes, villains, and supporting characters over the years. Though a number of the big names have already made the jump to the MCU—or will within the next couple of years—Marvel will hardly have to dig deep to adapt compelling stories and characters to the big screen.
Blade, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Adam Warlock, and dozens of other top-tier heroes haven't yet entered the MCU, and all sorts of characters have merely been teased in TV shows. What's more, but Guardians of the Galaxy has proven that even somewhat obscure characters can be made headliners. And with DC and Sony focusing on villain-led films, Marvel could make a similar move and start pulling from their deep roster of big bads.
Thanks to the Vanity Fair story, we know Marvel has 20 Phase 4 movies planned. And mirroring Iger's comments, it seems that new worlds and time periods will be a big part of the next set of movies. Captain Marvel will see the MCU return to a period film and Thor: Ragnarok proved how powerful the appeal of the cosmic MCU can be even outside of the Guardians franchise. And with 7,000 characters to choose from, Marvel Studios has near-infinite possibilities.
Source: Vanity Fair
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019