Word has it that some very exciting news has just occurred for Marvel movie fans. It's been confirmed that Disney has finalized a deal to purchase 21st Century Fox and all its owned properties. What does this mean for Marvel fans? Back before Marvel was the powerhouse movie studio it is today, it sold off the rights to some of its most popular characters to different studios that it now finds itself in competition with. Marvel recently struck a deal with Sony for the rights to feature Spider-Man and a select number of Spidey villains, but Sony still technically owns the rights.
The deal with Fox means that Marvel Studios will get full ownership of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer on-screen, as well as all of their associated villains like Doctor Doom, Galactus, Kang the Conqueror, Apocalypse and dozens more. This means that the Marvel Universe will once again be complete and interconnected, and most likely that we can finally get a decent Fantastic Four movie. However, in a lot of ways, it seems that the two universes have been connected all along, or at least that there have been hints and easter eggs set up for this merger for a long time.
15 STAN LEE THE WATCHER
If you need proof that Fox's Marvel properties and the Marvel Cinematic Universe both exist in the same reality, look no further than the man who had a hand in creating all those characters in the first place: Mr. Stan Lee. For a long time, it was fair to accept that Stan Lee was just a meaningless cameo meant as an in-joke for fans, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 changed all that.
In it, we see him talking to an alien race known as The Watchers about his appearance in Captain America: Civil War as a delivery man, proving that he's the same character in all of the films. What makes it even better is that James Gunn originally wanted him to mention his cameo in Deadpool as a strip club DJ, but it was changed at the last second.
14 THE DAYS OF FUTURE PAST TIMELINE
X-Men: Days of Future Past was the last X-Men movie to show us the present day. After Logan successfully changes the past and prevents the sentinel apocalypse, he returns to his time to find that a lot has changed. Professor Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey are all still alive, meaning that this timeline could have drastic differences from the original.
Since then, every X-Men movie except Logan has been set pre-2000, so they could very well live in a world where Iron Man will one day reveal his secret identity and the Avengers will stop an alien invasion. Logan takes place in 2029, so even Wolverine has plenty of time to become an Avenger before his end. If the universes merge, all the present day X-Men are open to show up in the MCU, and like the comics, some time shenanigans could easily bring the past X-Men forward.
13 THE SKRULLS
Up until recently, it was believed that Marvel Studios didn't have the rights to use the Skrulls because they were owned by Fox as an X-Men property. Recently, James Gunn clarified that the Skrulls as a whole were co-owned by both studios. Things got even more interesting when it was confirmed that both 2019's Captain Marvel and 2018's X-Men: Dark Phoenix will feature the Skrulls as the main antagonists and that Captain Marvel would be set in the 1990s.
There are a lot of theories for why they're jumping back in the timeline, but it should be noted that the current line of X-Men movies is almost up to the early '90s, so it would be an easy transition to have both films share a few characters. Then they could all team up to take on Super-Skrull and the Skrull Empire in Phase Four.
12 BOB, AGENT OF HYDRA, IN DEADPOOL
Deadpool's place in the MCU is going to be one of the toughest nuts to crack once the universes finally merge together. Everyone involved with Deadpool fought for a hard R-rating through profanity, violence, blood and sex, whereas Kevin Feige and those in charge of the MCU have made it very clear that they intend to keep their universe PG-13 for as long as they possibly can.
However, even though the people working on Deadpool knew their movie wouldn't fit into the MCU, it didn't stop them from dropping a big "licensing gray-area" name drop when Wade recognizes his old buddy and occasional sidekick, Bob, agent of HYDRA. Of course, they couldn't use the word "HYDRA," but when the universes merge, you'll almost certainly see Bob return in all his HYDRA-loyal glory.
11 AVENGERS 4'S SOFT REBOOT
This would be the easiest way by far to bring the X-Men into the MCU. There's been talk for years about Avengers 4 serving as a kind of soft reboot for the universe, probably involving the infinity stones shaking up the timeline somehow. People are already expecting a ton of new heroes to debut in Phase Four, and we'll most likely be looking at a radically different Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With a number of other new heroes premiering after the events of Avengers 4, the X-Men and Fantastic Four could just simply appear with no grand explanation for why we haven't seen them before. The X-Men have just been training at a school in Westchester, and the Fantastic Four have just gone on their infamous voyage into space.
10 THE MULTIVERSE
Ant-Man and the Wasp star Evangeline Lilly recently confirmed that the upcoming Ant-Man sequel will introduce audiences to the Marvel Multiverse. The Multiverse is far from a new concept in the comics, encompassing every existing iteration of Marvel characters from different comic realities to animated universes and even the MCU itself.
If the MCU is introducing the multiverse, that's even more interesting, because to movie-goers, Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, Sony's previous Spider-Man movies, even shows like The Gifted and Legion are all part of the Marvel Multiverse. If Disney acquires Fox then ALL of that becomes fair game to use in future movies, and Ant-Man and the Wasp will premiere long after the deal is finalized, so it would be really easy to bring Fox's properties into the MCU, literally pulling them into a different universe.
9 THE REALITY STONE
Although all the Infinity Stones are inconceivably powerful, the argument could be made that the Reality Stone is the most powerful one of all. It allows its user to alter reality in any way they see fit, breaking the laws of logic and physics. Powerful users of the Reality Gem in the comics have been able to use it to create entirely different alternate realities, and when backed by the other Infinity Stones, it can alter reality on a universal scale.
Theoretically, someone could create the X-Men and Fantastic Four in the MCU just by thinking, "more heroes," while Thanos could summon Doctor Doom, Galactus and Magneto just by thinking, "more villains," but they don't even have to go so far as explicitly saying anything. The very act of altering reality could create a universe where all those characters have existed for years!
8 DOCTOR STRANGE
We have already seen our first glimpses of the Marvel multiverse in Doctor Strange when The Ancient One was tossing his consciousness around multiple realities. This would indicate that that Doctor Strange either has or soon will have the ability to open his own portals throughout the multiverse.
Since Doctor Strange 2 is almost a guaranteed certainty for Phase Four at some point, it would be extremely easy to have Doctor Strange open up a portal to Fox's alternate reality and bring them here, or even to merge realities entirely so that new mutants could constantly be discovered to expand the X-Men and villains. Doctor Strange may even end up doing this for Avengers 4 as a strategic move to bring more heroes into the fight against Thanos.
7 DEADPOOL'S HELICARRIER
The grand finale of Deadpool takes places on a massive decommissioned Helicarrier that you'll notice looks suspiciously like the one S.H.I.E.L.D. uses in The Avengers. That's because originally screenwriter Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wanted it to literally be S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarrier, complete with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and the ability to fly.
Unfortunately, Fox didn't have the rights to use it, so they can't even use the word "helicarrier," but if you look closely, you can see it's designed almost exactly like the one from the comics. The thing is, helicarriers don't exist in real life. There's only one in the universe, and it belongs to S.H.I.E.L.D. The only reason Deadpool doesn't outright ask where Nick Fury and all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are is because they didn't want to get sued by Disney.
6 THE ANNIHILATION WAVE
In some ways, the arrival of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe shouldn't be something that happens quietly under the radar. It represents that Marvel universe finally becoming complete again, so it should be celebrated with a major event. What better way could there be than to open up Phase Four than with Annihilation.
The comic event was about the invasion of Annihilus and his army, the Annihilation Wave, from the Negative Zone in order to expand his empire into the positive matter universe. If this was adapted to film, it could easily feature Annihilus's attempt to conquer all known universes of positive matter, which would give the heroes of the Fox universe and the MCU reason to work together, ultimately resulting in the merging of both worlds.
5 THE ILLUMINATI
In the comics, the Illuminati was a small council of superheroes formed by the greatest minds and leaders of the Marvel universe to handle world-ending threats and shape the actions of superhero teams around the world. Most recently, they gathered in response to the oncoming threat of another universe (1610-the ultimate universe) colliding with their own (Marvel-616).
It consisted of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Namor the Submariner, Reed Richards, Professor Charles Xavier and (originally) Black Panther. This would be a particularly good time for the Illuminati to form considering that it's very possible that the Fox Universe is about to collide with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If that collision turns out to be literal, they could recruit Professor X and Reed Richards to collaborate on a plan to save both worlds.
4 THE ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH
The original Human Torch is one of Marvel's oldest characters, along with Namor the Submariner. He actually made his first appearance in Marvel Comics #1, back when the company was still called Timely Comics. He was an android known as Jim Hammond with the power to surround himself with and control fire. When the character fell into obscurity, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revamped his powers and name into a different character as Johnny Storm.
While he's technically a different character, the original Human Torch's costume appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger at the Stark Expo. This means that the groundwork has already been laid for Johnny Storm to show up in the MCU with the Fantastic Four. Tony Stark could even help design his uniform since he already has the fireproof prototype laying around.
3 KANG THE CONQUEROR
Now that Avengers: Infinity War will most likely introduce time travel with the use of the Time Stone, it's likely that we'll start seeing a lot more of it in the MCU. Kang the Conqueror was named as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time by IGN, but the biggest problem with him is, like most of Marvel's greatest villains, he's currently owned by Fox.
However, if the merger between Fox and Disney takes place before Avengers 4 wraps production, it would be the perfect time to introduce Kang as the next big bad villain for the new line of MCU Phases. Kang could drastically alter the timeline upon his arrival, creating a reality where a percentage of the population become mutants, bringing forth the X-Men.
2 THE QUICKSILVERS
Another one of the few properties co-owned by Fox and Marvel Studios has already been used up and killed off in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and pretty much ruined via overpowering in Fox's X-Men series. After Avengers: Age of Ultron, some fans were theorizing that Quicksilver was killed off so quickly and unceremoniously because they didn't want the confusing character conflict with Fox.
Now that Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet seem primed to bring some characters back to life, it could be the perfect time for the Fox universe to end and Pietro to make his return. They're essentially alternate universe counterparts anyway, and the MCU version's short run was infinitely better, so maybe it's time for the true Quicksilver to run back home to Marvel.
1 THE INHUMANS
The Inhumans have had a rough time getting off the ground in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They were originally slated to get their own movie in Phase Three, which was then moved to Phase Four, before being relegated to a spot as an ABC miniseries, which was pretty poorly received.
Shortly before that, the Inhumans were introduced on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it was pretty obvious to everyone watching that they were just a placeholder for the mutants and X-Men of Marvel Comics. It's interesting timing that soon after the failure of Inhumans, Marvel could potentially acquire the rights to the X-Men again. If Marvel Studios wanted to avoid confusion, they could just introduce the X-Men characters as inhumans and just not worry about the word "mutants" at all. It might anger some comic fans at first, but they essentially serve the same purpose in-universe anyway.