5 Superheroes That Are Better Off Without Marvel
It’s not uncommon to hear the refrain “give (insert character here) back to Marvel” among comic book fans whenever one of the company’s iconic superheroes is mistreated by another studio. In truth, Fox, which holds the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and Sony, which holds the rights to Spider-Man — have both made some pretty egregiously missteps in how they’ve handled the many, many unforgettable superheroes that inhabit the Marvel universe. We’re still shaking our heads at the missed opportunities that were the most recent Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man reboots.
However, just because other studios have demonstrated how not to earn goodwill with fans and critics, we don’t think that Marvel Studios needs to have full rights to every character from the comics to produce quality work. In fact, in some ways, fans actually benefit when the mounting production costs of such releases are shared among multiple studios, whether or not these films exist within the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
For the record in this run-down, we’re delving into both superheroes that Marvel Studios has partial film rights to and those that exist solely in the hands of other Hollywood studios.
Yes, we know that everybody’s favorite friendly neighborhood webslinger was inducted into the MCU earlier this year with Captain America: Civil War. However, next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is merely a co-production between rights-holder, Sony and Marvel Studios. It’s a partnership that allows both companies to mutually benefit from the film’s sure-to-be-impressive box office numbers.
While we’re thrilled that the MCU can now incorporate Spider-Man into the fold, we maintain that the fact that his full film rights lie in Sony’s hands is ultimately a smart move. After all, if Marvel Studios had Peter Parker fully in-house, the chances are far slimmer that the company would have taken a risk on more obscure titles like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. As long as Marvel has some creative input and can use Spidey in the MCU, all should be fine.
If any character has effectively demonstrated that a non-Marvel studio can nail its iconic superheroes on-screen, it’s Wolverine. For 16 years, Hugh Jackman has been playing the mutant badass in Fox’s X-Men films, and he has continued to win over fans with every appearance.
Even though he’s taller than his comic book counterpart, Jackman has embodied the spirit of the haunted Logan — and, to a lesser extent, his feral alter-ego Wolverine — creating a performance that is now synonymous with the character himself. Sadly, the same can’t be said of many of the other X-Men characters, but by and large, Fox has done a tremendous job doing justice to one of Marvel’s most popular creations.
Speaking of the X-Men, Ryan Reynolds’s turn as the “Merc with the Mouth” in this year’s smash hit (not the dreadful X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is another example of Fox managing to let a fan-favorite character speak for himself.
Rather than dilute the edgy source material, the studio stood back and allowed director Tim Miller and his team to infuse Deadpool with all the cartoonish violence and profanity it needed to stay true to the essence of Wade Wilson. In doing so, the film earned a hard R-rating as well as heaps of critical and fan praise, becoming the highest-grossing X-Men character film domestically. Moreover, such an approach to a decidedly more extreme character would almost certainly not exist in the family-friendly mainstream MCU, at least not on the big-screen.
There seems to be a bit of a debate as to whether Universal has the film rights to this character. Namor the Sub-Mariner would provide the MCU the chance to delve into the oceanic landscape, but considering how much is currently going on within the studio’s Phase Three, perhaps it’s best that Marvel Studios steers clear of the water … at least for now.
After all, Marvel has thus far remained a cut above the burgeoning DC Extended Universe (DCEU) both financially and creatively. So introducing Namor just as the DCEU is ready to bring in Aquaman could muddy the competitive waters between the two comic book titans. Of course, that’s not to say that Marvel Studios couldn’t bring an amazing version of Namor to life down the line.
The film rights determining which superheroes the MCU can and cannot include in their films is usually pretty clearcut. Thus far, the most notable grey area has been regarding super-powered twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, whose origins had to be altered to remove any reference to mutants or their father Magneto.
Fox actually even beat the MCU to the punch, bringing Quicksilver to the screen with X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. Considering that Evan Peters made a far greater impact in that film than Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, proves that maybe this is one character that the MCU truly just doesn’t need.
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