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What if... Marvel had all their character movie rights at the start of the MCU?

Hulk_Smash

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Dec 25, 2013
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I’m surprised I’ve never read any nerd blog or article speculating on what the MCU might have looked like had they had all their characters available to them right from the beginning.

What I mean is, instead of 3 X-men movies, 2 Fantastice Four movies, and 3 Spider-Man movies along with a half dozen other solo films that came out before Iron Man, they started in 2008 with ALL of Marvel’s major heroes? How would that play out?

Now before I get into this alternate timeline, let me quickly address a few things.

Firstly, I am more concerned with the timeline and release of the movies and what they build up to than I am specifics about each movie. So, if you want your Raimi directed Spider-man to still happen, fine. Jackman’s Wolverine? Done. Blade 3? Uhh... you’re on your own on that one.

Secondly, we all know that the reason why the comic book movie renaissance was even possible was BECAUSE Marvel had to sell all the character movie rights to keep them out of bankruptcy. Of course, if you’re a movie studio, you’re going to move quickly on the IPs you just purchased and start making movies right away. So, you could argue that the only way any of those movies would have been made is if it happened the way it did.

But let’s say Marvel worked out its financial issues in some other manner and were in a good place financially by the mid 00s. In the meantime, Warner Bros kicked off the superhero movie revival with Batman Begins. Marvel then sees that there’s a market for superhero movies and decides to form Marvel Studios in conjunction with Universal and/or Sony as distributors. (The Disney acquisition could still happen, but it's not necessary.)

2008 rolls around and they’re ready to go with their first movie. And it’s not Iron Man. Because in this timeline the MCU doesn’t have to revolve around the Avengers. But the infinity stones are still part of the grander story. And the only hero that I think is big enough to have their own solo sequels is Spider-man. Plus it’s the only way we will see the sinister six on screen (by building the. Up over more than one movie)

So, what would this timeline look like? Here we go...

Phase 1
2008 Spider-man
. Makes sense that the MCU would lead with one of its big four. Nick Fury is given a cameo talking about threats that are too big for regular police and military can’t handle. But nothing more is teased.
Late 2008 Incredible Hulk. Fury approaches Ross at the end instead of Stark and talks about putting together a team, but doesn’t mention the Avengers.

2009 Iron Man. It is here that Nick Fury gives an open invitation to Stark about helping him start the avengers initiative.
Late 2009 X-Men. A modern day origin story without Wolverine. Trask and sentinels are the nemesis. Wolverine is teased at the end.

2010 Thor (Hawkeye and Black Widow featured)
2011 Captain America origin story #infinitystone1
2012 Avengers with Spider-man. Loki and Chitauri are still the villains #infinitystone2

Phase 2
2013 Wolverine
An origin story with him joining the X-men at the end (Hulk cameo because in this timeline THEY GET TO FIGHT EACH OTHER!)
Late 2013 X-men 2 with Wolverine. Showdown with Magneto. Scarlet Witch/Quicksilver are Magneto’s children. They have a falling out with him at the end and leave the brotherhood.

2014 Fantastic Four. Dr Doom is the nemesis. Iron Man cameo. Silver Surfer teased. #infinitystone3
Summer 2014 Avengers 2 with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Late 2014 Spider-man 2 (venom) After credits scene building up to Sinister Six

Phase 3
2015 Silver Surfer
. Thanos backstory given but only as a tease. This is a Galactus story. At the end of his adventure, SS flees from Galactus and crash lands in F4 tower.
Late 2015 Dr Strange #infinitystone4

2016 Deadpool & Cable (x-force teased at the end for phase 4)
Summer 2016 Spider-man 3: The Sinister Six
Late 2016 X-men 3: Dark Phoenix Saga. Complete with Hellfire Club, the moon fight, and a fastball special. Deadpool and Cable cameo. Corsair teased at the end.

2017 Fantastic Four 2: Galactus arrival. In my timeline, Galactus is the big purple dude that can talk and walk and eats planets. But, the FF are able to put a stop to them before requiring Avengers or X-men help. Dr Strange does lend a hand.
Late 2017 Starjammers
(instead of GOTG to have a connection with the X-men) Adam Warlock teased at the end. #infinitystone5

2018 Black Panther
Summer 2018 Infinity War: Thanos’ Quest
No need to call these Avengers movies since they have way more than just Avengers in them. #infinitystone6
2019 Captain Marvel
Summer 2019 Infinity War: Endgame


Addendum
What about the characters not mentioned? Let’s see there’s:
Daredevil
Punisher
Ghost Rider
Agents of Shield
Blade
...among others.

Would they get their own movies or would they still be relegated to TV? I don’t know. Maybe phase 4?

And no solo sequels mean no Winter Soldier, Ragnorak, or Civil War (it also means no Dark world or Iron Man 2,3) But lets be honest, if Spiderman, Wolverine, X-men, and Fantastic Four were there from the start, they would be the focus over redundant sequels (they still appear in Avengers).

Starjammers makes more sense than GOTG here (or you can substitute them for Inhumans) and Ant Man? The only reason why that movie happened was because of all the pre-production expenses sunk into it that was done under the old contract. He would never get his own movie in this timeline.

However, I believe Black Panther and Deadpool would still happen because they just sort of popped up and surprised everyone when they landed. Right place, right time. Totally possible here.

So, am I out to lunch? What do you think would have happened?
 
Last edited:

Pagusas

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I am a strong believer that the MCU’s success is 100% on the back of Iron Man, I think starting with Spider-Man would have been a mistake.
 

Hulk_Smash

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Dec 25, 2013
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I am a strong believer that the MCU’s success is 100% on the back of Iron Man, I think starting with Spider-Man would have been a mistake.

Do you remember when Spider-man 1 came out? It was a way, waaaay bigger hit than Iron Man 1. It was a cultural phenomenon that kick-started the superhero movie genre. Blade and X-Men deserve some credit, but they were a puddle splash compared to Spider-man. Marvel got lucky with Iron Man and on top of that, that movie was coming into a market that had its arms wide open for superhero stuff.

I think it would be a mistake to start with anybody else BUT Spider-man.
 

cr0w

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Aug 31, 2015
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X-Men and Spider-Man would have kicked it off, definitely. Early to mid-00's people were still big on the X-Men from their '90s renaissance, and we probably would have gotten a more faithful version of them than what Singer put on screen. Spidey would have introduced the NY-based heroes such as DD and we probably would have even gotten a Maximum Carnage out of the deal.

After Spidey and X-Men were established, the "B" level heroes would have been introduced, such as Iron Man and Cap (before the IM movie hit, they were firmly in the mid-tier of Marvel characters)...I think they would have been like Spidey in CW...side characters to introduce them to the audience and then woven into bigger plots until their solo movies were a go.

I don't think Thor, the GOTG or any of the lower tier heroes like Ant-Man would even have their own movies until phase 3.
 

Hulk_Smash

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Dec 25, 2013
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X-Men and Spider-Man would have kicked it off, definitely. Early to mid-00's people were still big on the X-Men from their '90s renaissance, and we probably would have gotten a more faithful version of them than what Singer put on screen. Spidey would have introduced the NY-based heroes such as DD and we probably would have even gotten a Maximum Carnage out of the deal.

After Spidey and X-Men were established, the "B" level heroes would have been introduced, such as Iron Man and Cap (before the IM movie hit, they were firmly in the mid-tier of Marvel characters)...I think they would have been like Spidey in CW...side characters to introduce them to the audience and then woven into bigger plots until their solo movies were a go.

I don't think Thor, the GOTG or any of the lower tier heroes like Ant-Man would even have their own movies until phase 3.

I agree to an extent. It would most likely look even more different than what I wrote above. Who knows if they would even have phases or a shared universe. But, at least I put Spidey and X-Men in Phase 1. And I think it is entirely possible for the four main Avengers to all get introduced one at a time. In the comics, they all had their own solo series since the very beginning of the Avengers and even before that. If they had the idea, and this is critical here, of having a slow-burn build up in each phase, they would have given the Avengers their own solo movie (the only one they would get except Spider-man) first.
 

cr0w

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Aug 31, 2015
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I agree to an extent. It would most likely look even more different than what I wrote above. Who knows if they would even have phases or a shared universe. But, at least I put Spidey and X-Men in Phase 1. And I think it is entirely possible for the four main Avengers to all get introduced one at a time. In the comics, they all had their own solo series since the very beginning of the Avengers and even before that. If they had the idea, and this is critical here, of having a slow-burn build up in each phase, they would have given the Avengers their own solo movie (the only one they would get except Spider-man) first.

I think honestly we would have been more likely to get an X-Men shared universe first with the various X properties and characters possibly alongside a Spider-Man series. We already kind of have that with the various Fox/Sony properties anyway, but the spin-offs (the X-Men ones anyway) have been hit or miss.

I still think it would have gone X-Men, Spidey properties, crossover, then introducing the Avengers and others.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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This is fun to speculate about.

In my universe the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy would have stilled happened (and 3 would have been good and ended it on a high note) and Iron Man would have still been the start of the MCU, but this time instead of the two pointless Amazing Spider-Man movies the MCU Spider-Man would have started in 2012.
 

Wag

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Still waiting for that Doom movie where he takes on the entire MCU. Of course it's from his point of view where he's the hero.
 

dionysus

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They would have focused on the most popular characters like Wolverine and Spiderman and we would not have gotten movies with Antman or Guardians of the Galaxy for example. Basically they would have dropped the riskier characters.