Sometimes the relationship between Marvel and Fox feels eerily like a messy divorce.
There’s a lot of spite on either side, it seems, and every mean action taken by one studio will likely result in retaliation from the other.
We all know the classic example of the Quicksilver war of ’14, when both Marvel and Fox, unable to come to an arrangement over who owned the character of Pietr Maximoff, decided to both jam a version of the character into their already overcrowded movies.
We all know who won that fight.
Similarly, as it turns out, Fox has had to cede a lot of ground from Marvel any time an X-Men franchise wants to do something a little zany. If, say, the creators of Deadpool want to tweak the character of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, they need permission from Marvel, who will invariably want something back in return.
According to Paul Wernick, who co-wrote the script for Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (affectionately called NTW for short) jumped out to him and his collaborator, Rhett Reese, as someone that needed to be in their movie:
“We were looking down the list of the 400 characters that Fox owns, and NTW jumped out and we were like, ‘Yes! I don’t care what her powers are. She’s gonna be in the movie.’”
The pair ultimately decided to make Negasonic Teenage Warhead very different from her comic book counterpart, who has psychic powers rather than explosive abilities. To make this change, though, they needed Marvel’s blessing.
Marvel, though, saw this as an excellent chance to be petty and mean. Fox wanted something from the studio, and they’d have to pay for it. In order to get permission to alter NTW’s powerset, Fox needed to hand over the rights to one of the characters it legally owned.
Which character did Marvel want back? Ego the Living Planet.
Huh. Weird choice.
Perhaps Marvel’s executives realized that Fox wasn’t going to agree to something big here. The studio wasn’t exactly about to gift Marvel Wolverine, or even Toad. A movie company that’s willing to drive the Fantastic Four franchise into the dirt—not once, not twice, but three times—is hardly going to surrender anything they think they can make a profit on.
So Marvel got back Ego the Living Planet, and Fox got to include an explosive NTW in their movie. Surely Fox got the better end of the deal, right?
After all, where could Marvel actually make use of a character as ridiculous as a living planet?
So this is your daily reminder that a) Marvel can build a franchise out of anything, and that b) Guardians of the Galaxy exists as one big way for Kevin Feige to raise a colossal, planet-sized middle finger to anyone who owns the movie rights to a Marvel comic book character.