Twice now I've heard Marvel Studios talk about plans for characters to which it wouldn't seem to own the film rights. First, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. Now, Ronan the Accuser.

Next summer, Marvel and director James Gunn bring Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen. Actor Lee Pace will play Ronan, a member of the alien Kree empire who acts as a sort of judge and jury in interstellar matters.

Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of an unlikely team of alien heroes. Source: Marvel Entertainment.

He first appeared in Fantastic Four No. 65, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby. Ronan would later go on to appear in adventures with the alien group known as The Inhumans and tangle with more than a few members of the Avengers.

Why does this matter for Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock investors? The studio appears to have room to maneuver when selecting characters for its films, which makes the potential size and scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) much grander than skeptics might believe.

So far, all we have is circumstantial evidence. But consider what we know. Not only will Guardians include Ronan, but director Joss Whedon will also trot out both Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch for Avengers 2 even though the mutant twins first appeared in the X-Men comics. 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) owns the film rights to the X-Men universe of characters.

And that includes Quicksilver: Fox has hired Evan Peters to play the character in next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past. Don't be surprised if we see more of this sort of crossover soon.

Concept art for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Source:

During Marvel Studios' main hall presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, production chief Kevin Feige described Ronan as a "newcomer" the MCU but never addressed whether the character might also make an appearance in a future Fox film, given that studio's film rights to the Fantastic Four universe.

I'd have asked him about it myself but never got the chance. Rectifying that is my next step. In the meantime, Disney stock should benefit from Marvel's surprising flexibility when it comes to making films about its characters.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.