James Gunn has admitted that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies might not have taken off, had Marvel already owned the X-Men and Fantastic Four film rights at the time. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe's celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, fans have likewise been looking back at the past decade of MCU films and weighing in on scenarios that could have drastically affected the state of the franchise now.
Marvel Studios took a lot of risks to get to where they are right now. Arguably, one of the biggest ones was greenlighting the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. A rag-tag group of lesser-known characters from the comics, the group has some odd members such as a mouthy raccoon and an adorable tree monster in Groot. Many were skeptical of the idea when the project was first announced but with Gunn's oversight, an infectious soundtrack, and an intriguing premise/characters, the movie exceeded expectations both at the box office and critically. Now, with two installments in the series (plus a third Guardians on the way), the cosmic squad is a fan-favorite and it's difficult to imagine what the MCU would be like without them.
Gunn took it to his official Twitter to answer some fan question, including one asking him what might have happened, had Marvel Studios already owned the X-Men and Fantastic Four movie rights when the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was green-lit. While Gunn couldn't say for certain, he acknowledged that there's a good chance the company wouldn't have taken a chance on the least well-known of those properties (re: Guardians):
It’s a hard question. Kevin Feige was into the idea of Guardians because of his deep love of Star Wars and space operas. But the Marvel Studios schedule might have been too glutted with content/movies and it would have never been made. https://t.co/UHeQLbT7Zy
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 11, 2018
Considering that the infamous Marvel Creative Committee was still around when the first Guardians of the Galaxy was green-lit (and apparently wanted to get rid of the film's retro music soundtrack), the odds of the project being cancelled would've certainly increased had mutants already been part of the MCU canon. At the same time, as Gunn points out, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige's penchant for cosmic stories and Star Wars might have still prevented that from happening.
Marvel Studios' predicament actually played a huge part in the formation of the MCU. Without the film rights to premiere characters like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and X-Men (all of which had been sold off to keep the company financially afloat), the studio turned to their lower-tiered heroes like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Building the MCU on the shoulders of B-listers and proving that they too are interesting, the company was able to ensure that their films were both respectful adaptations for comic book readers and accessible to more casual moviegoers. Once the MCU had really taken off, they began adapting even more obscure properties like Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and of course the Guardians, to much success.
While it was arguably for the best that the MCU developed into the 17-movie series that it is now (soon-to-be-18, with Black Panther coming out next month), it's no secret that many fans have been clamoring for the X-Men especially to be added to the franchise. With Disney now finalizing its acquisition of Fox (and the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four with it), it may be only a matter of a few years before mutants get to rub elbows with the Avengers and/or Guardians on the big screen. Just the promise that it will happen down the line is enough for die-hards to be excited about the future of the MCU.
Source: James Gunn
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018