The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently has the rights to almost every character from the Marvel Universe save for portions of the Spider-Man corner of the franchise, opening the doors for plenty of new faces to the universe. But in the past, disputes between studios meant certain characters had to be changed or removed from stories.
The MCU and 20th Century Fox previously both held the film rights to the characters of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. But while that complication played out in both comics and on the big screen, a tie-in to Secret Wars saw Marvel Comics poking fun at itself and the entire order.
As the MCU grew into one of the dominant film franchises on the planet, the creators at Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox discovered an unlikely complication to their respective film rights of certain characters. Before Marvel Studios truly began, Marvel had sold off the film rights to various characters, including the X-Men, to other studios. This meant that all the characters typically associated with the X-Men could appear in 20th Century Fox Marvel films — including Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who at the time were considered mutants. However, the pair had never truly been X-Men characters, debuting as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants but quickly departing the team. Quicksilver would briefly serve with X-Factor, and the pair would occasionally be involved in crossovers involving the X-Men, like House of M.
Instead, the pair were largely defined by their status as Avengers, resulting in the two studios coming to an arrangement: both could use the characters in their respective film universes, but the MCU incarnation of the characters couldn’t reference Magneto or their mutant heritage . The MCU would be forced to invent a new origin for the twin’s powers — ultimately tying it to the Mind Stone hidden inside Loki’s scepter activating abilities in them. Evan Peters appeared as Quicksilver in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past for arguably one of the film’s most iconic sequences, quickly becoming a fan favorite of the latter-X-Men films from the studio. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen debuted as the MCU versions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The conundrum was seemingly resolved by their respective plots. Scarlet Witch never factored into the X-Men films, and Quicksilver was killed by the end of his MCU debut, so in effect, neither universe was utilizing the same character at the same time. The rights issue is now rendered moot by Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox’s assets, including the X-Men.
Before that though, the dispute had a clear impact on the comics, with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver officially having their mutant status retconned away in the core-Marvel Universe of Earth-616. Notably, another series turned the conflict over the rights into the jokey plot line of an entire miniseries. Among the many unique settings created by the events of 2015’s Secret Wars, Giant-Size Little Marvel: AVX by Skottie Young was set in the world of Marville — an overtly silly and cartoonish version of the Marvel Universe. There, the X-Men and the Avengers were recast as children and massive rivals, often going head-to-head in competitions and contests. This extended to Zachary and Zoe, a pair of twins who move to town. Led by Captain America and Cyclops, the Avengers and the X-Men quickly pulled out all the stops to try and recruit the pair to their side. Both teams introduced the pair to the various resources their teams can provide and all the challenges that inherently come with picking either team. The conflict eventually spread out to include all the other major Marvel teams, with an overwhelmed Zachary and Zoe eventually deciding to instead side with the villains.
At the heart of the story is a duel between the X-Men and the Avengers for the right to call a pair of twins their friends, serving as a clear parody of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s situation. The series even debuted in 2015, the same year that Avengers: Age of Ultron premiered. While Marvel has made some pretty clever references to the dispute — up to including Evan Peters in WandaVision as a Quicksilver imposter — one of the funniest still might be the Avengers and the X-Men getting into an intense dodgeball battle over the two powerless twins.
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