X-Men? Fantastic Four? Marvel Has Contingency Story Plans In Case They Get Character Rights Back

I attended a Q&A with Marvel head Kevin Feige last night which you can read about elsewhere on the site (Infinity Stones/Infinity War and the future of the Marvel Universe). One quote in particular no one seems to be focusing on is something Feige said when answering my question about how they can insert a character like Spider-Man into the long-term arc leading to Infinity War, which has clearly already been plotted far in advance.

His answer contained a little nugget of information: Marvel has contingency story plans in the far-off case the company is able to get back the movie character rights for some of the properties they don't currently control. As you know, this currently stands at the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes, which includes Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Deadpool, Cable and others. Find out exactly what Feige said about the Marvel contingency plans, after the jump.

The event last night was to promote the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron home video release on October 2nd, and they showed us a special feature on the Blu-ray which explained how the Infinity Stones fit into the story they have told thus far. So the night was filled with questions about how Marvel plots out a long-term arc over the phases of their films. Someone first asked Feige how far they have the Infinity Stones storyline planned out – do they know what's going to happen up until the conclusion of The Avengers: Infinity War Part II, due in theaters four years from now? Here is what he said:

Yes, in broad strokes. Sometimes in super specific things, but for the most part in broad strokes that are broad enough and loose enough that if through the development of four or five movies before we get to the culmination, as you say, we still have room to sway, and to go, and to surprise ourselves in places that we end up.  So all the movies ultimately when they are finished can feel like they were all interconnected and meant to be and planned far ahead, but can live and breath as individual movies that can be satisfying by themselves.

"Broad strokes" is something we've heard before when Feige has talked about planning out a phase of the Marvel storyline, but him talking in the context of the grand plan leading to Infinity War is new. But how do they handle something like the introduction of a character they never believed they would have the movie rights to, like Spider-ManThat was my question to Feige, and here is what he said:

The short answer is: the most important thing is the standalone movie, relaunching Spider-Man with a standalone movie with a new storyline that fits into this universe – that's job number one for us. And as is the case, the connectivity is great but it doesn't drive the train. That being said, if I understand what you're asking, we had... this has been a dream of ours for a long time, and we always had contingency plans should you know — which we always do anyways. Are we going to be able to make another movie with this actor? If we are then we'll do this, if not, we're going to do this. If we get the rights to a certain character that'd be great, then we'd do this, if not, we'd do this. So we always sort of operate with those alternate timelines available and are ready to shift if something happens.

Interesting, right? With this, Feige confirms that Marvel has contingency plans in place for the current overarching storyline leading to Infinity War, on the off chance they regain the film rights to characters not yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That list of characters includes mainly the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises, which also includes Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Deadpool, Cable and others. Of course, its very unlikely Fox will give up their very profitable rights to the X-Men franchise, but Fantastic Four has always been more in the realm of possibility.

Before Captain America: Civil War was officially announced, the Sony leaks confirmed that Marvel was trying to bring Spider-Man back into the fold. They were unable to make a deal happen when they announced the Civil War storyline, and Feige has explained how the storyline would work without Spider-Man, a character who was central to the plot in the comics. But it seems clear that once Disney made a deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige and crew already had everything planned out. The character will supposedly appear in Civil War after all, and his storyline was probably not something that came about at the last minute.