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If you're a comic book fan with a basic working knowledge of how different studios have divvied up the rights to various characters, you're aware of which crossovers are totally possible in comics but will never happen onscreen. Wolverine can't travel back in time to kill Ant-Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the way he did in the comic-- because the rights to Wolverine are owned by Fox, not Marvel Studios. Spider-Man can't warn the Fantastic Four of an incoming alien invasion the way he did in this comic run, because the rights to Spider-Man are owned by Sony, and the Fantastic Four are owned by Fox. The lines are drawn and comic book franchises are too successful to studios to give up on them… but apparently, in the early days, those rules weren't quite so strict.
Would you believe that, at one point, Wolverine was supposed to cross paths with Spider-Man? Talking to The Huffington Post about his big Toronto hit Prisoners, Jackman allowed a tangent about this summer's The Wolverine to lead to some speculation about whether or not Jackman himself could just show up in a Marvel Studios film, without any official Fox permission. As it turns out, that's not such a crazy idea-- he tried to do it on Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man:
In the first "Spider-Man" -- Kevin Feige reminded me of this -- we really tried to get me to come on and do something, whether it was a gag or just to walk through the shot or something. The problem was, we couldn't find the suit. The suit was stuck in some thing. And so when they were in New York when I was there, we couldn't get it together.
That's right-- a wardrobe issue is what kept Wolverine from existing in the world of Spider-Man. The implications of this blown cameo are enormous, given the ways that the various cinematic comic book universes have grown apart from each other. If you acknowledge existence of the X-Men in the world of either Raimi's Spider-Man films or the current versions, you dredged up the same questions that plague all the current standalone Marvel movies-- essentially, "Why didn't you call your super friends for help when The Lizard/The Mandarin/The Winter Soldier was kicking your ass?" The Avengers adjacent Marvel films are solving the problem in their own way, but it's hard to imagine Fox and Sony continually collaborating on story reasons to keep the X-Men and Spidey-- or the Avengers, for that matter-- apart. As Jackman himself says it, the money issues are way too much to work around:
I actually asked some high level people about it. Because the optimist in me goes, "Why not? Why can't we do it? You know, a split cast or whatever?" And someone reminded that the amount of money Fox paid compared to the amount of money Disney paid is very different [laughs]. So how you split that pie up? God knows. But in the comic books, what's great about it is they're just mashing together all the time -- and it's awesome. And people are like, "Yeah, well, let's get this one with that!" And, you know, I still think, one day, there may be an ability to do it.
Though some characters are reverting back to Marvel Studios, the bigger ones are being clung to by the studios lucky enough to have them-- and that crossover Jackman is talking about it unlikely to happen as long as Fox and Sony feel capable of producing Marvel films to rival the giant ones made by Marvel Studios. But while Jackman is scheming, feel free to join him. Which crossovers do you want to see? Can you think of a way for Wolverine to wander into the background of an upcoming Marvel movie? Hop in the comments and talk to us.