In the midst of Marvel's extreme success on film and some unique publishing risks, they have been battling the sizable setback of not owning full creative rights to several key characters in their universe. It is relatively well known that Fox has cinematic control over a few essential Marvel properties (#XMen, #FantasticFour, Silver Surfer, etc.), which tends to tamper with the writing process when adapting some of the more popular comic book storylines.
You might recall that #Marvel just settled a very similar issue late last year as #Sony owned the film rights to #SpiderMan. And then, all of a sudden, #Disney pitched the proper offer and finally made Spidey a part of the MCU, barely in time for a hilarious role in #CaptainAmericaCivilWar. The biggest downside is that Sony still holds some creative control in the solo film franchise, but although it's a risk to use the shared rights technique, it seems to have payed in spades so far and gets them closer to having no limits in their storytelling.
This whole film rights ordeal started when Marvel struggled financially through the 1990s and sold the film rights to a handful of their more profitable properties (also considered letting DC acquire the entire company sometime before that). Flash forward a couple decades and Marvel is becoming incredibly powerful in Hollywood with an unbelievable earnings track record. They can even take their lesser-known characters such as #AntMan, #GuardiansOfTheGalaxy and #DoctorStrange and create box-office sensations.
Now, while the X-Men property has done quite well for Fox (especially with #Deadpool), the studio could be ready to make a deal given their lackluster 2016 (Independence Day: Resurgence, Keeping Up with the Joneses) on top of the Hugh Jackman's #Wolverine contract coming to an end. In the last few years, Disney and Fox have already made a few big deals (prime example #Daredevil), but they seem to be getting ever closer to fully bridging that gap. Here are a few examples:
1. Ego/Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Recently on Twitter, James Gunn gave a little insight to a previous Disney and Fox deal that actually helped keep Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on track, and allowed for for a fan favorite character to the appear in Deadpool. Hope I'm not spoiling anything for you, but Ego the Living Planet is set to show up in GotG Vol.2 as Peter Quill's father, and James Gunn admitted to not having a back up plan if Disney could not make the deal go down with Fox.
This could go a long way for Marvel getting more cosmic characters back, as they mostly are used for the Fantastic Four franchise, and that hasn't been performing well for years (I would at least like to see the #MCU with the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus before the #InfinityWar showdown). Now, while this Ego the Living Planet and Negasonic Teenage Warhead trade might not be as impressive as regaining franchise control, this begins cinematic negotiations, and that's how they got Spider-Man back. Then the next part of the deal actually has real crossover potential...
Coming early next year will be a new look at the X-Men universe with #Legion, focusing on a powerful mutant struggling with schizophrenia. The show will air on FX (a Fox affiliate), but it will be coproduced with strong creative input from #MarvelStudios. There has been no confirmation what universe the show will take place in, but on the Marvel website one article hinted at Legion being in the MCU and a part of Marvel TV.
Another big hint that everything is connected would be from Scott Derrickson, director of Doctor Strange, stating Marvel is now open to a multiverse. Also, popular X-Men producer and another name involved with the show, Bryan Singer said "you wouldn't have to label" what universe Legion took place in, and that doesn't mean it can't exist among a multiverse. It seems as though Marvel would like to start introducing mutants into the MCU, possibly through #AgentsOfSHIELD as the #Inhumans exit for their very own show (plus a two-episode IMAX event, SUPER STOKED!). And finally...
3. X-Men Reboot
This could be a longshot (X-Pun!), but as Fox is looking for a soft reboot to their X-Universe, based around Deadpool, it could be the perfect opportunity for Marvel to share the rights to the rest of their characters. They could leave Deadpool at Fox and allow the writers to skewer the MCU, but in the process, Marvel could officially have the X-Men back. Even if it's another shared rights deal, Fox is in a tight spot, so they could be willing to give up most of the creative control.
There're a lot of people at Marvel who don't believe the X-Men will show up in the MCU anytime soon, including Kevin Feige and James Gunn, but that could simply imply a few years (which is nothing in movie timelines). It would be difficult to reestablish that much film history, but after Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel will probably be looking to change a few things as a number of their actors' contracts will be up as well. Plus, I think Marvel's Phase X has a good ring to it.
In actuality, Marvel has a huge chance of getting the Fantastic Four rights back from Fox since they have not announced a sequel to the 2015 flop. Most studios are known for holding onto character rights until the very last minute, but since Marvel could use more cosmic characters in their lineup after the major success with Guardians of the Galaxy (and Infinity War coming soon) they might want to start really pushing to get this property back. Why not throw mutants into that mix if they are already in the process of a deal? There's only one thing holding them back.
If it wasn't for the dark horse success of Deadpool (and rightfully so), Fox would most likely already be in talks with Marvel. They don't want to recast Wolverine since Jackman has been the biggest draw of the franchise overtime, but they do want to keep their mutant rights for the sake of the "Merc with a Mouth." Fox is also known for not playing nice, and expecting more than Disney is usually willing to pay (but desperate times can call for desperate measures). I bet it won't be more than three years until we see a giant-sized Disney and Fox deal allowing most of Marvel's characters to come home to the MCU. That day will be glorious!