Okay, maybe not never. As a big chunk of the general public knows now, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and the gang are good characters, and Marvel may well have figured out that they were ripe for movie stardom at some point.
But if you’ve been following the stories that Bleeding Cool has been running about Marvel’s current reluctance to emphasize the X-Men or the Fantastic Four, it leads you to only one conclusion: Guardians of the Galaxy fans have 20th Century Fox to thank for the movie getting made.
Consider an alternate universe where Marvel retains the X-Men and FF movie rights. They would both be priorities for Marvel Studios since they each have 50-plus years of publication history behind them and the name recognition that comes with it. We’ll say for the sake of argument that the Fantastic Four franchise would be much healthier than it currently is, a.k.a. not in need of its upcoming reboot.
In our parallel dimension, we’re still headed for a storyline that involves the Infinity Stones coming together, and characters like Thanos, Drax, Gamora and Nebula are all still involved. But this time, the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock are big players, springing from the FF brand. As an added bonus, Galactus is something cooler than a big cloud.
At the same time, fans are getting fired up to see the Avengers collide with the X-Men on the big screen instead of dreaming about seeing the Avengers and Guardians together. In fact, there’s a chance the X-Men are the bigger deal and the Avengers are seen as the upstarts. I can’t see into alternate world well enough to tell, but I do know there doesn’t appear to be a Thor solo movie in this realm.
With so many super heroes that don’t take as much marketing effort, it would just make sense for Marvel to build around those two teams. It would absolutely remove much of the incentive Marvel would have to explore making films about its lesser-known characters — and prior to the build-up to their movie, the Guardians fit that description to a tee.
So as you head to the theater for that second or third (or fourth, if you happen to be our very own Christina Roberts) showing, make sure you say thanks to Fox. Without that studio taking the X-Men and the Fantastic Four out of Marvel’s movie reach, James Gunn’s smash hit probably wouldn’t exist.