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Movie Legends Revealed: Is Deadpool Part of Fox’s X-Men Movie Rights?

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MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Deadpool is covered by Fox’s X-Men movie deal with Marvel.

As we discovered when discussing whether Marvel actually owns the rights to produce an Incredible Hulk film, one of the more confusing aspects of superhero movies is who, exactly, owns the rights to certain characters.

We know that, generally speaking, 20th Century Fox owns the production rights to the X-Men and their respective characters, such as Wolverine. We also know that Sony owns the production rights to Spider-Man and his respective characters, such as Venom. Marvel Studios and Disney own most of the other rights (with some interesting disclaimers, like the aforementioned Hulk confusion). There are times, however, when there’s debate about which studio holds the film rights to which character. The most famous instance of this arose with Quicksilver, who, along with his sister the Scarlet Witch, debuted in the pages of “The X-Men” but was also a notable member of the Avengers: Existing in a bit of a film-rights “gray area,” Quicksilver appeared in both Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (he’ll be seen again this year in the sequel “X-Men: Apocalypse”).

Another apparent area of confusion involves the film rights to Deadpool, whose blockbuster new feature includes a crossover with Fox’s X-Men characters. Most fans simply presume the Merc With a Mouth is part of Fox’s overall deal with Marvel for the rights to the X-Men. Is that true, though? (A fan sent in this question, but I can’t find the email. If they’ll contact me, I’ll be glad to add their name to the article.)

The simple answer is no, Deadpool’s rights were not included with the X-Men in the deal that effectively granted Fox perpetual rights to make movies based on the X-Men and ancillary characters. Deadpool’s rights were sold in 2000 to Artisan Entertainment as part of a larger agreement that encompassed more than a dozen Marvel characters. In the pre-Marvel Studios days, Marvel would strike a deal with pretty much anyone who thought they could produce a film based on one if its characters. For instance, Black Widow almost had her own solo movie before any of her fellow Avengers.

blade-trinityArtisan was purchased in 2003 by Lionsgate, and the Deadpool project appeared to be going nowhere. The following year, however, New Line Cinema, which produced the “Blade” movies, took an interest in the character. David S. Goyer, who wrote the “Blade” films, including the then just-released “Blade: Trinity” (co-starring Ryan Reynolds), spoke in 2004 about tackling a Deadpool movie:

I want to do something else with Ryan Reynolds because I really loved working with him and New Line wants to do something else with Ryan Reynolds and Marvel wants to do something with Ryan because there aren’t a lot of actors anymore that can do credible action and be funny and that are also good actors

The New Line version of Deadpool would specifically not be connected to the Fox films, as Goyer noted:

We would completely reinvent it. We can’t connect it to Weapon X or anything like that. We’ll see.

New Line’s interest went nowhere, and in 2005, Fox became involved, and eventually signed a deal for Deadpool’s movie rights. The character was included in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” where he was portrayed by Reynolds.

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These movie rights deals typically come with a ticking clock: If a movie isn’t put into active production within a specified period, the rights revert to the original owner. That was likely the case with Deadpool, too. However, Fox used the character in a 2009 film and now a 2016 film, and it appears clear the studio has no interest in allowing his rights lapse. As “X-Men” writer/producer Simon Kinberg noted well before “Deadpool” premiered: :

There’s definitely a sort of overall plan that we’ve all been talking about for the X-Men universe now and Deadpool obviously fits into that. So yeah, I guess I would say it’s part of certainly an overall timeline and thought process that goes into these films, some of which is inspired by the comics and some which is inspired by seeing what Marvel’s done with telling a larger tapestry and linking all those movies together, even as they stand independently as well. The same kind of thought is going to go into these X-Men movies at Fox.

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So while technically Deadpool isn’t included with the X-Men movie rights, it’s sort of an academic question at this point, as Fox will have his rights as long as they keep making movies with him in them, and they A. clearly plan to do so, and B. are treating him as part of the X-Men universe.

But yes, while it is an academic question, the answer to the question (and therefore, the legend) is….

STATUS: False

CBR’s own Albert Ching wrote an extensive piece looking into Deadpool’s movie journey that delved into this information in greater detail. However, I still see people cite Deadpool as part of Fox’s X-Men deal, so I felt it was worth featuring this as its own legend. Thanks also go out to the reader who wrote asking me this question in the first place.

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero films.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Comments

  • Kevin Ford

    Another question: Who owns the movie rights to Captain Britain and his supporting characters because Captain Britain was created way before he became affiliated with the X-Men, so who owns it?

  • Kevin Ford

    Another question: Who owns the movie rights to Captain Britain and his supporting characters because Captain Britain was created way before he became affiliated with the X-Men, so who owns it?

  • Delsin Rowe

    So, basically, Deadpool wasn’t included in the original X-Men deal, but he’s under Fox’s control now. If I understand correctly.

    Personally, I’m one of the people who would love Marvel to get the rights to the X-Men back because while I don’t HATE them, I don’t LOVE Fox’s X-Men movies, either. I feel Marvel could do a better job with them. (I’m DYING to see a movie with the original X-Men, led by the main character Cyclops in the yellows and blues. I just hate how Fox treats this character.)

    That said, I am glad Fox did the Deadpool movie and not Marvel. I just don’t see Disney/MS making a rated R Deadpool movie like Fox just did.

  • Eddie Blake

    I wish we could get a list of who has the rights to what. There HAS to be some sort of master list out there somewhere.

  • Ushio

    Why would Marvel have Cyclops in yellows and blues? it’s not like Hawkeye, Falcon, Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch have there comic costumes hell they don’t even have Thor wear his helmet outside of one or two scenes over 4 films.

    I guess if they did a green lantern and used CGI for the costumes they could be comic accurate as when it’s CGI Marvel then actually do remember what the characters should look like.

  • Ushio

    Why would Marvel have Cyclops in yellows and blues? it’s not like Hawkeye, Falcon, Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch have there comic costumes hell they don’t even have Thor wear his helmet outside of one or two scenes over 4 films.

    I guess if they did a green lantern and used CGI for the costumes they could be comic accurate as when it’s CGI Marvel then actually do remember what the characters should look like.

  • A. Hanson
  • A. Hanson

    This one is a little old and has a couple dated things (Ghost Rider for example is now back with Disney/Marvel) but its a good breakdown of which studio does the different movie blockbusters

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2012/infographic-which-movie-studio-owns-the-various-film-franchises/

  • Alex H

    Well, this is fairly speculative, based on a single odd bit of evidence, but I think probably Marvel (or at least, probably not Fox).

    Marvel does seem to be pursuing a policy of not including Fox properties in their games, even where applicable – so Lego Avengers is fairly conspicuously missing any X/F4 characters who have also been Avengers.

    Who it does contain though, is Captain Britain – in his original Marvel UK costume oddly enough.

  • Eddie Blake

    It’s not all-inclusive either. It would be nice to know which minor characters are included as well.

  • Alex H

    Is a decent overview of the general gist but not comprehensive, and undoubtedly there are a bunch of characters that fall between the cracks.

    So for instance, we know that Kang despite being the other big Avengers villain is actually with Fox (because of Immortus debuting in F4 first), the Skrulls are shared between Marvel/Fox, and the Badoon are with Fox as they debuted in Silver Surfer (despite being tied to the Guardians as a concept more).

    There are further implications for license-legacy type characters, eg. ones which debuted in a license book but are considered Marvel characters even when that license expired. So Bug for instance was unable to turn up in Guardians because he was a Micronauts, yet Shang Chi was specifically listed as a collateral property when Marvel first did their financing deal, which suggests they do have the rights to him.

    Then there are a few fairly major characters like Spider-woman and Moon Knight who we’ve heard nothing about at all, and could realistically be somewhere other than Marvel.

  • Travis

    That’s interesting. Makes you wonder who exactly was considered an ancillary character in the Fox/X-Men deal if Deadpool and Captain Britain weren’t included.

    I mean, assuming Marvel does maintain Captain Britain’s rights, you have a situation where characters who are twin siblings are owned by two different studios.

    That’s even stranger than both studios having their own version of the Maximoff twins.

  • Delsin Rowe

    One thing has nothing to do with the other. It’s what I would like to see. Did I say they would do it? Nope. Just that I’d personally like to see it. Regardless, my initial point still stands. Fox’s movies have been just “okay” and after seeing what Marvel has done, I’m sure they could make a superior X-Men film if given the opportunity.

  • Guest

    Everything I’ve ever heard about Spider-woman and Moon Knight places them at Marvel. I figure they’re just holding back on them.

    I’m pretty confident the Sony would’ve tried to develop a SW feature by now if they had rights. And given Batman and DDs success the same with Moon Knight.

  • Ben Phillips

    What the f**K dude….ugh.

  • Caretaker Joe

    I agree with you up to a certain level. Deadpool could not be pulled off by Marvel (the same goes for Punisher). But with every other Marvel caracters based movie you fear it’ll turn out like the F4 movies or The Last Stand. However, Marvel’s movies have become repetitive and boring. Every entry has basicly the same orgin and the same story. Its just become more of the same of the same of the same.

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  • Rollo Tomassi

    Hi Brian! I sent you the e-mail.

    So now the question becomes, if the Deadpool footage hadn’t leaked and Fox hadn’t gone ahead with the movie, would the Deadpool rights have reverted back to Marvel? Noodle that one for a moment.

  • GEDDION SOLDIERS

    Well I have solve a problem with the Dead pool reboot version. When wolverine went back to the past in Days of Future Past, the time line changed when he came back. The here and the now of the franchise world like Sony, Fox, Marvel-studios and etc could fix what was really broken and re-event the new and improve story-lines to make things work out for all of the studios, where every-one could profit and establish the Marvel universe.

  • GEDDION SOLDIERS

    Well I have solve a problem with the Dead pool reboot version. When wolverine went back to the past in Days of Future Past, the time line changed when he came back. The here and the now of the franchise world like Sony, Fox, Marvel-studios and etc could fix what was really broken and re-event the new and improve story-lines to make things work out for all of the studios, where every-one could profit and establish the Marvel universe.

  • Delsin Rowe

    That’s fine by me as long as they’re good movies. And for the most part, they have been. I would just like to see what Marvel could do with an X-Men movie. Just once. Like I said, if I had my way, my dream movie would be the original X-Men, in the classic yellow and blues, with Cyclops in a prominent role. With Fox, it’s basically Wolverine and the X-Men every time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wolverine and Jackman’s portrayal of him. But I’ve seen it done to death now. There was an X-Men before Wolverine. That’s the X-Men I want to see. Not the mix-matched 60’s, 70’s, 80’s thing they have going now. (Which I’m fine with it’s just not my dream movie). I’m really hoping Cyclops becomes a leader of sorts in Apocalypse. He is, after all, the leader of the X-Men. If Fox doesn’t want to portray him as such, let Marvel take a crack at it.

  • Delsin Rowe

    That’s fine by me as long as they’re good movies. And for the most part, they have been. I would just like to see what Marvel could do with an X-Men movie. Just once. Like I said, if I had my way, my dream movie would be the original X-Men, in the classic yellow and blues, with Cyclops in a prominent role. With Fox, it’s basically Wolverine and the X-Men every time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wolverine and Jackman’s portrayal of him. But I’ve seen it done to death now. There was an X-Men before Wolverine. That’s the X-Men I want to see. Not the mix-matched 60’s, 70’s, 80’s thing they have going now. (Which I’m fine with it’s just not my dream movie). I’m really hoping Cyclops becomes a leader of sorts in Apocalypse. He is, after all, the leader of the X-Men. If Fox doesn’t want to portray him as such, let Marvel take a crack at it.

  • DanCJ

    I’m surprised people are wanting to see X-Men in the yellow and blue costumes – and calling those costumes “classic”. I’ve always thought they were terrible costumes and I have a hard time imagining that Wolverine in particular would be caught dead wearing it.

  • DanCJ

    I’m surprised people are wanting to see X-Men in the yellow and blue costumes – and calling those costumes “classic”. I’ve always thought they were terrible costumes and I have a hard time imagining that Wolverine in particular would be caught dead wearing it.