A few years back, Marvel Studios took a tremendous risk by making a space movie that included a talking raccoon and a sentient tree. The characters included in the Guardians of the Galaxy comic series were never household names, and a movie starring them (and only them) was surely putting all of them out on a Groot-sized limb. The gamble paid off, resulting in two successful Guardians films that are some of the most beloved in the MCU, but according to director-writer James Gunn, this may never have happened if Marvel had access to some of their other cosmic properties.
In the wake of Disney's giant acquisition of Fox (giving Marvel Studios access to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, both groups who tend to go cosmic from time to time), a fan asked Guardians director and writer James Gunn via Twitter if his movies would have happened if Marvel had access to those other properties a few years ago. Gunn's response? "It’s a hard question. Kevin Feige was into the idea of Guardians because of his deep love of Star Wars and space operas. But the Marvel Studios schedule might have been too glutted with content/movies and it would have never been made."
It's clear that Feige and Marvel wanted things to get cosmic in the MCU at some point, but why take a chance on such a random group of characters when the X-Men or the Fantastic Four could take them there just as easily? While some parts of the cosmic Marvel world remained off limits (Galactus, the Shi'ar), Marvel still had the means to venture to the stars with characters like the Kree, and of course, Thanos. With no other big-league teams around to venture forward, they had to take a chance on the much lesser known band of rogues if they ever wanted to get to space.
Now that the deal has gone through and Marvel has access to, well, everything, all eyes are on how Marvel will move forward with its expanded sandbox of characters. After all, it has shown that when it gets the rights back to one of its stars, it'll dive right in — Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great example of that. It was great to see Marvel do Spidey the way he was meant to be done, but it also meant that Carol Danvers had to wait a little bit longer. The entire MCU kicked off in the first place with the lesser known (and now mega-popular) Iron Man, because that's who it had to work with. What are the chances that Beta Ray Bill will get a movie now that Marvel can push the Fantastic Four back up Sisyphus' hill for yet another adaptation?
Here's hoping that Marvel Studios will continue to take Guardians-style risks, despite having some of their biggest earners back in the mix.