The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently unable to use various characters or the term 'mutants' thanks to the fact that 20th Century Fox own the live action rights to the X-Men and their related characters.

Is the deal that allowed 20th Century Fox to use Marvel characters permanent? If not, when can we expect to see mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

3 Answers 3


When Marvel sold the live action rights to many of their characters and groups of characters in the 1990's, it was on the condition that the rights would revert back to Marvel if the properties were not used within a certain number of years.

This condition has led to the rights for various characters reverting to Marvel since, the latest and most well-known being the rights to the character of Daredevil after 20th Century Fox failed to do anything with the rights since the 2005 Elektra movie, which has resulted in Marvel Studios successfully creating the Netflix exclusive Daredevil series as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As such, we can conclude that X amount of years will have to pass without 20th Century Fox creating an X-Men-related property before mutants can appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware no one who is not privy to the details of the rights and licensing contract between 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios knows the exact timeframe required to pass before the rights naturally revert.

If the deal for X-Men was the same as the deal for Daredevil (whose rights reverted towards the end of 2012, 7 years after they were last used by 20th Century Fox in Elektra) then we can say, at least for now, that the rights will probably not revert until ~7 years after 20th Century Fox stop using them, which at the time of writing means 2023 at the earliest, 7 years after the release of the 2016 X-Men: Apocalypse film. However, we can be fairly certain that more X-Men films will be made after that, with a third Wolverine film already in the works.

However, a recent deal between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures (who own the live action rights to Spider-Man) has resulted in Spider-Man becoming a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. Although the rights to the character still belong to Sony Pictures, the deal means that each studio can use characters and events from the others films in order to bolster their own films, so we can expect to see Spider-Man appear in future Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and the upcoming Spider-Man films to reference events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and potentially use character from other films.

Despite this deal giving many people hope that we will soon see mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the fact that the X-Men movies have been more successful for 20th Century Fox than the recent Spider-Man movies have been for Sony Pictures means that the studio is under no financial pressure to make a deal. As such, as far as we as the general public are aware, there are no plans (despite it being possible) to introduce mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has resulted in Marvel Studios attempting to use their Inhumans property as a mutant substitute for now.

It is also worth mentioning that the inclusion of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron is not indicative of a 20th Century Fox/ Marvel Studios deal - these characters were mutants first and Avengers second, meaning that both studios own the rights to the character and can use them as they see fit as long as Marvel Studios don't reference mutants and 20th Century Fox don't mention The Avengers. This has led to the potentially confusing situation where two different versions of the same character have appeared in two unrelated films (Quicksilver in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and X-Men: Days of Future Past).

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    Sorry for the essay, but it's a complex topic. Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:05
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    @PaulD.Waite I'm not just talking financial success - the X-Men films have been much more critically successful than the more recent Spider-Man films. The new Spider-Man film will be produced, distributed and financed by Sony Pictures, with Kevein Feige is co-producing it - it's is not officially a partnership between the two studios as such. Unofficially, I imagine Feige will pretty much be running things. Commented May 21, 2015 at 11:51
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    @PaulD.Waite "Wolverine 3 had a release date of 3rd March 2017 announced." Drew Goddard's Sinister Six also had a release date in 2016 annoumced, but that was canned after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 inflicted itself upon the world. Until a film actually begins production I'd rather not count it. Commented May 21, 2015 at 11:55
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    Fox made a Fantastic Four movie in 1994, with a very small budget, just to prevent those movie rights from reverting to Marvel. It was never even intended to be released. So, the movie rights will not revert to Marvel for a loooong time. Not until Fox will start to lose money on them. They are not so friendly with Marvel as Sony is, so some kind of deal is also unlikely to happen.
    – Dennis_E
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 11:58
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    @Dennis_E: I don’t think that these days Fox would throw together a poor-quality Fantastic Four movie just to ensure the rights didn’t revert to Mar... ah, then again. Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 13:13

21st Century Fox's Marvel characters film rights are now owned by Marvel Studios.

In March 2019, Marvel Studios’ parent company, Disney, acquired 21st Century Fox.

The term “mutant” has been used in the MCU, and several mutant characters have now appeared or have been announced to appear under the Marvel Studios banner:

  • Professor X / Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), complete with X-Men: The Animated Series opening theme hook playing while he was being introduced.

  • Ms. Marvel / Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel (2022 TV series), although not a mutant in the comics, she was referred to as having a “mutation” by Bruno Carrelli in Ms. Marvel S01E06 “No Normal”, again complete with the X-Men: The Animated Series opening theme hook playing while "mutation" was mentioned.

  • Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). In the film, Namor mentions that he is a mutant.

  • Mister Immortal and El Aguila: these characters are mutants in the comics; they appeared in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022 TV series).

  • Beast / Hank McCoy has appeared in The Marvels (2023).

  • Wolverine and other mutants will appear in Deadpool 3 (2024), which will be set in the MCU.

  • X-Men '97, the first X-Men title from Marvel Studios, is scheduled for a 2024 release on Disney+. The show will continue the story of the original X-Men: The Animated Series.

Non-mutant characters whose film rights were previously owned by Fox:

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    That's one way of doing it. Don't buy the rights, but the company that holds the rights
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 21 at 9:23

Disney-Marvel are in talks to buy Fox Movie Company and other Fox assets from Ruppert Murdoch's parent organization (2017). If this deal goes through, Disney-Marvel will automatically acquire all rights to Marvel characters through the acquisition of the Fox companies.


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