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A Visual Of The Marvel Superhero Movie Rights

(The image above is a visual of all the major Marvel superheroes and who owns the movie rights. Spider Man with Sony, X-Men and Fantastic Four with FOX and basically everything else with Marvel.)

Marvel has done an incredible job creating a cohesive and connected universe between movies and television. The Avengers, Agents of Shield and Agent Carter are all apart of one reality and that feat has never been done at this level before. On the movie side we have already seen the core Avengers assembled with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk and Shield (Black Widow, Hawkeye etc.). Phase One and Two have been wildly successful solidifying heroes like Captain America, and introducing others like The Guardians of The Galaxy. As we move into Phase Three Marvel is going deeper into their roster of heroes. We will see Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange movies in the next few years. Casual movie fans probably don’t know much about these heroes and some might be wondering “Why haven’t we seen Iron Man and Spider Man on screen together?” or “When will be see Wolverine go up against The Hulk?” Unfortunately, these crossovers can’t happen as easily as we may think.

In the 90s Marvel was a struggling, bankrupt comic book company. To help their financial circumstance they sold the movie rights to many of their properties. The Hulk, Spider Man, and all related characters, were sold to Sony, X-Men and Fantastic Four were sold to FOX, Iron Man and Black Widow went to New Line and Thor was picked up by Universal. When Marvel hit their stride, they began buying back characters that had remained dormant with these other companies. Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor and Hulk all went back home. Sony and Fox launched successful franchises with Spider Man and X-Men respectively and therefore remained out of Marvel’s clutches. So, movies like Blade, Spider Man (2002), X-Men and Fantastic Four were all done by studios other then Marvel. It was only in 2008 with Iron Man that Marvel began financing their own films and building their Cinematic Universe. Interestingly, while these contracts were being hashed out some characters were left in this strange grey area. This is why we saw Quicksilver in X-Men: Days Of Future Past played by Evan Peters, and we’ll see a different Quicksilver in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. Marvel is allowed to use the character as long as they don’t mention his Mutant origin. Actually, Marvel isn’t allowed to use “Mutant” in any of their movies.

The decisions made by corporate executives are keeping Spider Man (a key Avenger in the comics) from appearing with others on the big screen. This is the same reason why the tone of the X-Men movies are drastically different from Guardians Of The Galaxy. All of these movies have the Marvel banner, but are done by different studios. I think it is only a matter of time before we see Sony and FOX allow Marvel to use Spider Man and X-Men in their movies. The same way I think wayyyyyyy down the line we’ll see a DC and Marvel crossover in movies. The only way these movies can maintain our interest is to get bigger and having more characters interacting with one another and this is the only way to make that happen.

Thanks to The Geek Twins for the image