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Marvel Character and Studio rights: Why certain crossovers may not occur

Published on May 28th, 2016 | Updated on May 28th, 2016 | By FanFest

Will Deadpool be in an Avengers crossover? Will the Fantastic Four appear in a X-men movie? Will Ant-man team up with Wolverine?

All pretty good questions, but unfortunately some of these things will more than likely never occur, mostly due to studio rights.

In the 1990s, Marvel Comics started selling the movie rights for their characters to different studios. Because of those rights, only certain studios can use different Marvel comic book characters in films. When Marvel created their own studio in 2004, they began reacquiring those rights and created the first shared Marvel universe of film. Marvel successfully reacquired the movie rights to Iron Man and Black Widow from New Line in 2005, and the Hulk and Thor in 2006 frin Universal and Sony, respectively. Marvel’s regained the rights to Daredevil and The Punisher, guiding Daredevil into his own Netflix Series. (Which, for the record is amazing and has been a huge success).

Although they hadn’t been able to reacquire the movie rights to their entire character library, Marvel used an extensive line of credit to reacquire the central heroes that would form the Avengers as we know them today. Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver were also regained by Marvel Studios, so that they could be introduced in the Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“It’s a little tricky,” Marvel Studios chief, Kevin Feige, said of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch back in 2012 in an interview with HeyUGuys. “”If they want to use them in the X-Men movies they could, if we want to use them in the Avengers movie we could.”

Feige continued: “The truth is the contracts are all very specific and if there is ever a time for them to revert they will, but for right now they are safely with those other studios. We have almost 8,000 characters in in the Marvel Library, maybe more depending on who you ask. Not all of them would make a movie of course, but a lot of them will,”

All character movie rights are based on the ownership of the main character. So, for example, 20th Century Fox owns the rights to any comic book characters that are mutants (X-Men) while Marvel owns the rights to any comic book characters that are vampires (Blade).

The chart below answers the question of which studio owns which Marvel character movie rights. Each character assigned to a certain studio cannot cross over. As of right now. Marvel has been working with the other studios to get joint rights of their characters back, so that we can start seeing more of those crossover movies. Except for Stan Lee. He’s pretty awesome and can go anywhere he wants to. Thanks to our friends at The Geek Twins, we now have this updated chart.

For those of you who have seen the recent Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron, you know that 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures granted rights for Marvel Studios to share their characters.

Also recently, Marvel Studios brought back it’s rights to ‘Man-Thing’ from Lionsgate, after the movie went back and forth between theater, DVD and a televised release. The film received pretty horrible reviews, and members of the test audience even walked out during the film. Not to say that Lionsgate did a horrible job, Man-Thing is just a pretty complexed character that requires a lot of work and attention to detail. Man-Thing was released back in 2005, so there have been supreme technological advances since then. Perhaps if Marvel and Lionsgate were to team up for the movie, given this day and age, it would turn out spectacularly.


So hopefully, sometime in the future, Marvel will work out some new contracts with the other studios and we will get to see more of these crossovers occur!

Regardless, each of these studios has done a pretty good job with their designated films. We cannot wait to see more of them!

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