The Marvel Cinematic Universe may already be teeming with dozens of marquee heroes and villains. However, there are still a number of superheroes that would prove to be exciting additions to the MCU. Unfortunately, many of the most notable Marvel characters still missing from the films are tied up in rights issues with other studios. Now that Marvel Studios has struck a deal with Sony to share the use of Spider-Man, there’s a better chance that similar arrangements can be made with other studios going forward. However, nothing is certain at this point. So here is our look at five superheroes that may never return home to Marvel.
With the X-Men franchise continuing to perform well for Fox, there’s little reason right now for the studio to play ball with Marvel regarding the return of its library of mutant heroes. Wolverine, of course, remains one of the most popular characters, but fan favorites like Deadpool and a slew of other X-Men related properties are suffering the same fate as the adamantium-clawed mutant himself. Perhaps if a deal can be struck over Fantastic Four (more on them later), then Marvel and Fox could come closer to sharing custody of the X-Men.
Marvel’s answer to DC’s Aquaman, Namor the Submariner remains tied up over at Universal, and though that studio has yet to develop any projects centering on the character — who was actually the first mutant to appear in Marvel Comics — that contract doesn’t apparently have a clause wherein rights revert back to Marvel if no action is taken on the property. While fans remain vocal about the superheroes owned by Fox, only the most devoted Marvel fans are clamoring for a Namor film. In any case, don’t expect it to happen anytime soon… from any studio.
[Update, 6/7/16: Per Comic Book Resources, Marvel Chief Joe Quesada recently came out and clarified Marvel’s ownership of the Sub-Mariner, stating that the rights currently belong to Marvel Studios. When pressed on whether Namor would be appearing in the MCU anytime soon, he cryptically teased that he “cannot confirm or deny.”]
While Spider-Man has finally joined the MCU, reports have claimed that the film Sony is developing around this fan-favorite villain/anti-hero as a standalone entry, although it’s unclear if it will also involve Tom Holland’s Spider-Man or attempt to tell the story of how Eddie Brock (or another of his alter-egos) crosses paths with the alien symbiote with no connection to the webslinger himself. With any luck, the latter approach isn’t the case, and Marvel’s shared ownership of Spider-Man will extend to the other superheroes from his world as well.
We know what you’re thinking. Marvel already has the rights to the Hulk, right? After all, he’s has major roles in three MCU films, including one as a lead character. As it turns, Universal — which released The Incredible Hulk in 2008 prior to Marvel’s acquisition by Disney — still retains some rights to the character, which could explain why he hasn’t received a solo sequel yet. Some reports claim that Universal simply has a right of first refusal on a solo Hulk film, but the prospect of having to share profits is likely enough for Disney and Marvel to keep the character an ensemble player for now.
5. Silver Surfer
Although the first two Fantastic Four films Fox released in the mid-2000s weren’t well-received by fans, they did turn a decent profit for the studio, which has had a difficult time developing a steady franchise out of Marvel’s First Family. While the Fantastic Four would be a great asset to the MCU, the team’s ancillary characters — like the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, and Galactus — would bring even more value. Now that the 2015 Fantastic Four was such a massive misfire, the time is now for Fox and Marvel to come to terms with how they can work together.
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