As you’d expect from a character made popular by his anarchic subversion of comic book tropes and constant breaking of the fourth-wall, Deadpool was full of jabs at the current state of superhero cinema. There were send-ups of long-standing Wolverine star Hugh Jackman, jokes at the expense of the movie’s comparatively small budget, the coining of the phrase “superhero landing” and, most pointedly, the final battle took place on something not a world away from a Marvel Cinematic Universe S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.
This wasn’t the first Marvel-related property to poke fun at the genre: just two years ago the company itself made Guardians of the Galaxy, which, while not as foul-mouthed (although that Jackson Pollock joke likely had some parents tensing up), certainly had an irreverent undertone. However, a tongue-in-cheek approach and resulting box office success aren’t the only links the two surprise hits share; it turns out that creative choices in the writing of Deadpool had a direct influence on the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Fans of X-Men will know that the powers Negasonic Teenage Warhead showcased in the film are a far cry from what she originally had in the comics; instead of the descriptive explosive running, she’s traditionally a more psychic presence. Speaking at a Deadpool Q&A at Fox Studios in Los Angeles (via The Playlist), the movie’s co-writer and executive producer Paul Wernick revealed that in order to make that switch, Fox had to trade Ego the Living Planet for use in Guardians 2:
“Kurt Russell [Ego the Living Planet] in the new Guardians movie was the character that Fox swapped with Marvel to [change] Negasonic Teenage Warhead powers.”
Clearly Marvel’s oversight on Deadpool as creator means they have some level of refusal on any variation from the source and used that as a chance to get back the rights to a character they wanted, but didn’t have. Although Ego first appeared in Thor comics and will make his cinematic debut alongside the Guardians, he is most prominently a Fantastic Four character, which means that he will have been part of the sale of the movie rights for those characters to Fox made all the way back in the mid-nineties.
This isn’t the first time a trade of characters between Fox and Marvel has been brought up When its option on Daredevil ran out, Fox was reportedly offered the chance to keep the Man Without Fear in exchange for relinquishing Galactus and the Silver Surfer, also traditionally Fantastic Four characters (that obviously fell through and led to Marvel using Matt Murdock in the Netflix TV series). There’s also rumours that some tricksy negotiation may have happened to allow Marvel/Fox to produce the X-Men-related Legion TV series. This new reveal could say a lot about Marvel’s approach to those holding its licenses in the future: in theory, the Disney-owned company could become increasingly strict on what it allows outside studios to do with their movie rights, limiting their freedom and attempting to reclaim associated characters. That or collaborate directly and share the wealth, like what they’re working with Sony on Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Putting all the contract wrangling aside though, what this ultimately means is that we get Russell as Papa Quill in Guardians 2 and a more focused powerset for Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool: two things that most fans can agree are positives.