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What Movie Studio Owns the Rights to Alpha Flight?

Who owns the movie rights to the superhero team Alpha Flight? That's the question we'll be answering today.

Since our infographic on Marvel movie rights came out, we've become kind of the go-to for people wondering about who owns what. We should point out that we have no inside knowledge on the copyright holdings of the studios, and many of these rights are so complicated that even the studios themselves debate about who owns what. We're going to give this one a shot because we were specifically asked on Twitter by Pietro Blaximoff (who has an awesome name): who owns the movie rights to Alpha Flight?

What is Alpha Flight?
First, we need to explain what Alpha Flight is, because that's part of the story. Alpha Flight is a team of Canadian superheroes created by writer/artist John Byrne. The characters premiered in the April 1979 issue of X-Men, originally as part of Wolverine's backstory when they tried to bring him back to Canada. Marvel published an Alpha Flight comic book series from 1983 to 1994.

All the Alpha Flight members were aspects of Canadian lore, including (per Wikipedia):
  • Guardian: Originally Weapon Alpha, then Vindicator, James MacDonald Hudson is a scientist from London, Ontario who wears a suit of battle-armor, allowing him to fly and manipulate Earth's magnetic field. Guardian is sometimes the team leader, and wears a stylized maple leaf flag on his costume.
  • Northstar: Jean-Paul Beaubier, from Montreal, is a mutant with powers of super-speed and light generation.
  • Aurora: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier is Northstar's twin sister who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). Like her brother, she is also a mutant with powers of super-speed, flight, light generation, and molecular acceleration.
  • Sasquatch: Walter Langowski is a scientist from British Columbia who can transform into a giant fur-covered beast resembling a Sasquatch. This character originally developed his powers from a Hulk-inspired gamma radiation experiment that was affected by a solar-flare. Eventually, it was explained that Sasquatch is actually a mystical monster.
  • Shaman: Michael Twoyoungmen is a First Nations medicine man from Calgary. He is both a skilled doctor and sorcerer.
  • Snowbird: Also known as Narya, she is an Inuit demi-goddess from Yellowknife, who can transform into animals of the north.
Why Doesn't Marvel Own Alpha Flight?
Next, let's explain what we're talking about when we talk about the movie rights for Marvel characters. In the 1990s, when Marvel faced bankruptcy, they sold off the movie rights to many of its properties. At the time, it seemed like a safe bet, since there had never been a really successful superhero movie and showing superpowers was complicated and expensive. Sony bought the rights to Spider-Man, and FOX bought the rights to the X-Men. Then, with CGI, it became cheaper to make superhero movies. 2000's X-Men and 2002's Spider-Man opened the door to big-budget superhero movies as blockbusters. Suddenly, the studios were in competition with Marvel to develop its own characters.

Who Owns Alpha Flight Now?
This is a complicated question, because FOX could make the argument that Alpha Flight's connection to Wolverine and the presence of mutants on the team make them X-Men-related characters. At the same time, the X-Men connection has weakened over time, especially when Alpha Flight got its own series. Northstar and Aurora could be recast as non-mutants, just like Marvel was able to make Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch into Hydra experiments in Avengers.

In 2017, during an interview producers FOX Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker mentioned:
We have a sense of where each of all of the existing characters go from Deadpool to New Mutants to the mainland X-Men movies to potentially even X-23…Then, there’s other characters, like X-Flight, like Exiles… There’s a lot of characters to mine going forward.
This caught people's attention, because there is no "X-Flight" in the Marvel Universe. It's been suggested that he either meant to say "Alpha Flight" or FOX plans to rename Alpha Flight into X-Flight so they avoid a possible copyright by Marvel. Of course, that's just speculation and he could have meant something entirely different, but it does support the idea that FOX owns Alpha Flight because of its X-Men connection.

RELATED: Who Owns Namor's Movie Rights Now?

Will There Be An Alpha Flight Movie?
Honestly, that's hard to say. Alpha Flight aren't well-known outside of comics, but neither were the Guardians of the Galaxy before their movie. Heck, the Guardians were even more obscure than Alpha Flight and they got a movie, so never say never. At the same time, the big draw of Alpha Flight has been the Canadian setting, and the idea of Canadian superheroes isn't something that really sells tickets.

Then again, Venom and Black Cat aren't big draws, and Sony is developing movies based on them. FOX's superhero stable is limited compared to Marvel's, so Alpha Flight might be more attractive to them as an Avengers alternative. We'll keep an eye on it.

RELATED: Who Owns the Man-Thing Movie Rights Now?

Would you watch an Alpha Flight movie? Let us know in the comments!

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