The comic book and film communities have recently been abuzz with rumors of a proposed trade between Marvel Studios and Fox, which currently holds the rights to several Marvel film properties including the X-Men and Fantastic Four. The deal, or so the rumor as reported by Variety goes, would have involved Fox returning the rights to Fantastic Four-related characters Galactus and the Silver Surfer to Marvel, in exchange for an extension to their rights to the Daredevil franchise.
Another report by Deadline was quick to pour water on the possibility, and new reports suggest that "Daredevil" is indeed reverting back to Marvel, but it’s still an interesting thought exercise. What could Marvel have done with these two iconic characters, separated from their natural ties to the Fantastic Four, but integrated into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Phase Two of Marvel’s big screen endeavors are seemingly headed in a more cosmic direction, with the appearance of Thanos in "The Avengers" post-credits scene, the announcement of a "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie, and "Thor: The Dark World," which is purported to have a greater focus on the nine worlds of Asgardian cosmology. Given that tone, it’s obvious that a world-devouring cosmic entity and his space-faring herald could be a good fit for Marvel’s upcoming plans. But beyond the connections of overall theme, Galactus and the Surfer also have important relationships to several of the characters that have already appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, offering the possibility of a natural integration based on the storylines that have appeared in the comics.
Thor, for one, has as close a connection to Galactus as anyone outside of the Fantastic Four and the Surfer himself. Galactus’ second appearance, after his debut in 1966’s seminal Galactus Trilogy (Fantastic Four #48-50), took place that same year in Thor #134, and Galactus’ origin was finally revealed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1969’s Thor #169, when Thor sought to confront Galactus directly and permanently end the threat he posed to inhabited worlds. Thor faced Galactus again in a storyline running through 1974’s Thor #225-228, by writer Gerry Conway, and artists John Buscema and Rich Buckler. A new herald of Galactus, Firelord, was introduced, whose freedom Thor was able to win by gifting Galactus with the powerful Destroyer armor (as seen in the first "Thor" movie) to serve as a replacement herald. Thor also has ties to the Surfer, having battled him in the 4th issue of his 1969 solo series by Stan Lee and John Buscema, when the Surfer is manipulated by Thor’s sinister stepbrother Loki into believing that Thor is the villain. More recently, the Silver Surfer and Galactus were key players in the “Galactus Seed” storyline which kicked off Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipiel’s 2011 Mighty Thor series.
Thanos, who also figures prominently into Marvel’s upcoming plans, has his own history with both the Surfer and Galactus. After being turned to stone by his arch-nemesis Warlock in 1977’s Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, many assumed that was the last we’d see of the Mad Titan. But when Thanos creator Jim Starlin took over the Silver Surfer’s ongoing series with 1990’s issue #34, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to bring back his master villain. The Surfer discovers that Thanos still exists in Death’s realm, and has been charged with a mission that will prove a threat to life throughout the universe, leading into 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Thanos has also crossed paths with Galactus on several occasions, most notably in the 2003 Thanos series, in which Thanos takes the unlikely role of hero in saving the universe from an extra-dimensional threat known as Hunger which Galactus unwittingly unleashed, and again by saving a weakened Galactus from vengeance at the hands of his former herald, The Fallen One. Despite this temporary alliance, these two powerful and ambitious beings could not remain on good terms forever, as Thanos later assisted the monstrous Annihilus in capturing Galactus and the Silver Surfer for his own ends during 2006’s Annihilation storyline.
As a relatively new team, the Guardians of the Galaxy have had somewhat more limited experience with Galactus and the Surfer. Their closest interaction came prior to the Guardians’ formation as an actual team, during the aforementioned Annihilation storyline, when future Guardians members Starlord, Gamora, and Drax The Destroyer assisted the Surfer and Galactus in combatting the forces of the invading Annihilus. When the Guardians were seemingly destroyed at the end of 2010’s Thanos Imperative storyline, the Surfer was recruited by the Guardians’ telepathic dog Cosmo, along with a number of other cosmic powerhouses, to fill the void that the Guardians left in a new team called the Annihilators. However, with the Guardians’ recent return in the pages of Brian Bendis’ Avengers Assemble, it seems that the Surfer has once again gone his own way.
As all of these stories illustrate, there is ample opportunity for Galactus and the Silver Surfer to be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even without the Fantastic Four. As to whether that will ever happen? It looks unlikely for now, but only time and the vagaries of show business will tell. But in the meantime, fans of Marvel’s cosmic heroes can dream of the myriad possibilities such a reunion could bring to the interconnected world that Kevin Feige and Co. have established on the big screen.
Which Marvel movie do you think Galactus and the Silver Surfer would fit into best? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!