It's a story that seems too complicated to be true, but both Deadpool screenwriter Paul Wernick and Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn have confirmed it: The by-chance selection of a supporting character for 20th Century Fox's Deadpool made it possible for Star Lord to meet his father in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The strange tale - no, wait, that's Doctor Strange - first became public during a special Deadpool screening this weekend, where Wernick revealed that he and co-screenwriter Rhett Reese chose to use the character Negasonic Teenage Warhead based entirely on her name - a decision that, it turned out, would end up being far more complicated than it first seemed.
"We were looking down the list of the 400 characters that Fox owns, and NTW jumped out and we were like, 'Yes. I don't care what her powers are. She's gonna be in the movie,'" Wernick said according to The Playlist. Unfortunately, their unfamiliarity with the character meant that they ended up making significant changes from her comic book incarnation, a move that required Marvel to sign off - something that worked in the latter's favor.
"Kurt Russell['s Ego the Living Planet] in the new Guardians movie was the character that Fox swapped with Marvel to [change] Negasonic Teenage Warhead powers," Werenick told the audience, summarizing the deal made between companies.
James Gunn confirmed the swap on Facebook, writing, "When I first pitched Ego as [Star Lord]'s father, I THOUGHT we owned the character. After I had worked out a very elaborate story with Ego the Living Planet as a very important part of the Marvel cosmic universe, I learned that we actually didn't own the character. I had no backup plan, and it would be nearly impossible to just drop another character in. Thank God Fox came to us and wanted to make a trade…"
Why Fox had the rights to the character is somewhat unclear; Fox controls movie rights to characters connected to the X-Men and Fantastic Four comic book franchises, but Ego debuted in The Mighty Thor No. 132 in 1966. The explanation might be that Ego was a recurring character in the 1980s Silver Surfer comic book for almost two years, and therefore grandfathered into that character's mythology as a result; the Surfer is part of the Fox license, thanks to his debut in Fantastic Four.
Nonetheless, all's well that ends well - at least until someone at Marvel wants to use Red Ghost and the Super Apes in a movie at some point. (They're very firmly part of the Fantastic Four license.)