There have been a number of new developments in the wrangling over the movie rights to Daredevil and Fantastic Four — but the most interesting upshot, by far, is the notion that Marvel could regain the rights to Galactus, devourer of worlds. And his herald, the Silver Surfer. [See update below.]
In a nutshell, here's what's going on, according to Variety: Fox currently owns the movie rights to Daredevil and the Fantastic Four, along with the X-Men. Fox has to start filming a Daredevil movie by Oct. 10, or the rights revert back to Marvel. There's basically no way Fox can make that deadline — but Fox is excited about its new take on Daredevil: a noir, urban version based closely on the Frank Miller comics, with Joe Carnahan (The Grey) signed up to direct.
So for Fox to make its film, the studio needs Marvel to agree to give it more time. So the two studios are in talks, and one possible solution is that Marvel could agree to a co-financing agreement, giving Marvel a stake in this gritty new Daredevil film. But another possible compromise is that Fox could give back the rights to Galactus and the Silver Surver, who are part of the Fantastic Four rights that Fox currently holds. According to Variety, Marvel really wants to use those two characters in one of its upcoming films, but Fox wants to hold onto them as well.
So depending on how good Marvel's negotiators are — and how desperate Fox is to make its Daredevil film — we could be seeing Galactus turn up in Avengers 3. That would be pretty awesome, no? As long as he's not just some boring cloud this time.
Update: Deadline has weighed in on this story, saying that Fox is in no hurry to give away Galactus, who's a "cornerstone" villain for the Fantastic Four. And Deadline claims Fox is "lukewarm" about Carnahan's take on Daredevil, and probably will just let the rights revert to Marvel unless Marvel wants to extend them in exchange for co-financing. (Honestly, I would take both the Variety and Deadline articles with a grain of salt at this point — there are probably a number of players involved here, each eager to get their own spin out. Thanks for the heads up, Volante3192!)