Marvel didn’t own the rights to Ego when James Gunn wrote ‘Guardians Vol. 2’
The complex rights issues surrounding the Marvel Comics back catalogue is a legal and contractual minefield, one that’s caused just as many sleepless nights for the suits in the boardroom as it has the filmmakers left wondering if they’ll even be able to use a certain favorite they’ve got their eye on.
Things are so dense that even specific powers pertaining to a hero or villain could potentially be owned by a studio that doesn’t actually hold the rights to the entire character, and it sounds like an absolute nightmare trying to sift through the small print to try and determine who can do what with whom.
In fact, James Gunn revealed on Twitter that he was misinformed about the status of Ego the Living Planet, and it turned out that he’d already nearly finished work on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 script before he discovered that Marvel Studios didn’t actually hold complete ownership of the Celestial.
The short version is that Gunn had made Ego the big bad of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and was too close to the start of production to rewrite his screenplay. So, in order to guarantee he could actually use the intergalactic antagonist in the movie, Marvel and Fox struck a deal that ultimately saw Brianna Hildebrand’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead debut in Deadpool. Simple stuff, really.