5 Reasons We’re Sad MARVEL Doesn’t Have All Their Film Rights

So, here we are, about halfway through 2014, and let’s see: we’ve had how many superhero movies? First there was Marvel Studios’ smash hit Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Then we had Sony’s so-so The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and just last month Fox rocked the box office with X-Men: Days of Future Past. That’s not counting the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Studios) and Big Hero 6 (Disney). That’s five movies based on Marvel properties, with only two of them actually made by Marvel Studios. I don’t know about you, but that bothers the hell out of me. Here’s 5 reasons why.

1. Classic Team-Ups

One of the biggest reasons I personally hate that Marvel doesn’t own the movie rights to all their properties is that we’ll (most likely) never get to see some of the classic team-ups from the comics. From Captain America and Wolverine fighting side-by-side in World War II to the epic hilariousness that is Spider-Man and Deadpool, “team-ups” are as commonplace in the world of superheroes as “buddy cop movies” are in the world of cinema, and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The team-up has been a staple of comic books for almost as long as comic books have been around (in fact it was the teaming up of Superman and Batman that led to the creation of DC comics). Without team-ups we never would have had the Avengers, the Sinister Six, or even the Justice League. Heck, there was even the long-running monthly series Marvel Team-Up that featured different heroes/villains kicking ass and taking names together. Unfortunately, due to Marvel auctioning off the movie rights to some of its biggest properties over a decade ago, we won’t be seeing Spidey and Deadpool yucking it up on the big screen until we’re wearing Depends and drinking Metamucil (if we’re lucky).


2. Crossover Events

Anyone who has extensively read Marvel comics can tell you this: Mighty Marvel loves their epic, world-shattering, crossover events. Unlike DC, who tend to space their “crises” out by about a decade (not counting the non-continuity graphic novels of course), Marvel tends to have at least one big crossover event a year. In fact, your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains are in the midst of one of these events right now called Original Sin (in which every hero and their momma is trying to find out who killed Uatu the Watcher, and why). Last year was Infinity (the epic conclusion/modernization of the classic Infinity Gauntlet story arc). 2012 saw AvX (Avengers versus X-Men for you casual fans). And that’s not counting the smaller events like Goblin Nation, Battle of the Atom, and Spider-Island that only effected small pockets of the Marvel Universe. Hell, Marvel’s already gearing up for there next big event AXIS, and they haven’t even concluded Original Sin yet.

But that’s just the Marvel way, and it’s something that comic book fans look forward to every year. Sadly though, with all of their biggest characters’ movie versions owned by different companies, these events are nigh impossible to pull off on the big screen (except maybe in animated form). Sure, Marvel Studios could use the epic Civil War storyline as the basis for Avengers 3, but they’d have to do it without many of the key characters (especially Spider-Man, who was one of the main focal points of the event). You want to see World War Hulk on the big screen? I hope you’re okay with the Illuminati (the group responsible for Hulk’s wrath) consisting of only Tony Stark and Dr. Strange. The rest of the group (Professor X, Namor, Reed Richards, and Black Bolt) are owned by Fox and Sony, and though Sony has expressed some interest in having Spidey pop up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I wouldn’t hold my breath for Fox to express likewise (especially since Marvel is apparently cancelling their Fantastic Four comic series so they’re not giving Fox any free publicity for its upcoming FF reboot film).

3. Classic Showdowns

Pop quiz, comic book fans: In what monthly series did Wolverine first appear? If you said The Incredible Hulk, give yourself a cookie (or 3, I won’t judge). For those of you who haven’t been reading comics since the ’70s (or done your homework), it’s true that Marvel’s resident “slice n’ dicer” made his glorious debut inside the pages of Hulk #181 (technically it was issue 180, but he only appeared on the very last panel). That’s right, Wolverine, a.k.a. the poster child for all things X-Men, was originally an antagonist for the “Green Goliath” a full year before joining his fellow mutants in Giant-Size X-Men #1. So before he was Xavier’s resident porcupine, Wolvie was duking it out with the big guy, and as any true comics fan can tell you, no one has taken the Hulk to his limits like the 5’3″ Canadian with a bad attitude. Yet, that is something we’ll never get to see in the movies.

With the Hulkster (sorry Terry Bollea) firmly owned by Marvel Studios and Fox maintaining a veritable death grip on Logan, we have a better chance of seeing the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a Kardashian than we do of witnessing one of the greatest showdowns in comic book history on the silver screen. If that’s not enough to make you die a little inside, here are few more “classic showdowns” we’ll never have the privilege of seeing: Rogue becoming a badass by absorbing the powers of Ms. Marvel, the Hulk tearing the house down with the Thing, Iron Man matching wits with Dr. Doom and the Red Skull using the brain of Professor X to seriously f*ck s**t up. Are you dying to see you’re favorite Avengers get obliterated by Onslaught? Since Onslaught (an entity composed of Xavier and Magneto) is owned by Fox, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. How about Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner kicking Nazi ass side-by-side like they did during the Marvel Age? Well, unless Fox’s 2nd attempt at a Fantastic Four franchise flops (which is very possible), I wouldn’t hold my breath. So if you’re dying wish is to see the Silver Surfer riding some cosmic waves in Phase 3’s epic showdown with intergalactic tyrant Thanos, I hope you’ve made your peace, because it’s not going to happen.


4. Expanded Rosters

Most comic book fans are well aware of the fact that both Spider-Man and Wolverine have been charter members of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” for quite awhile. Seeing as how they are two of Marvel’s most popular characters, it’s not really surprising. What modern fanboys/girls might not know is that Beast (the blue and fuzzy X-Man) has been an Avenger since the 1980s. Did you also know that Storm, now the wife of Black Panther and queen of Wakanda, has “brought the thunder” right alongside Thor as an Avenger herself? How about the fact that just about every member of the Fantastic Four has an Avengers ID card in their back pocket?

Of course, given the A-team’s ever-revolving cast, it’s no surprise that almost every Marvel hero (and a few villains) have “Assembled” more than once throughout the years, and it’s not just the Avengers either. Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) was once a member of the X-Men, even though she’s not a mutant. Both She-Hulk and Ant-Man, 2 of the longest “tenured” Avengers, have been charter members of the Fantastic Four (there was even an alternate Earth where Iron Man, Spidey, Wolvie, and the Hulk were the FF). Heck, just this year the new Venom joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. And then you have the big middle finger to Marvel fans that is the Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch controversy. The Maximoff Twins have been Avengers since the 70s (the days of Cap’s Kooky Quartet), but since they’re both mutants (and the progeny of Magneto) they cannot appear by name outside of a Fox-owned X-movie.

Unfortunately, this is another common comic book occurrence we’ll sadly never see on the big screen. In fact Disney (Marvel’s parent company) and Fox are so adamant against not working together, that Marvel is seriously contemplating doing away with mutants altogether. Now, I’m pretty sure (and very hopeful) that Marvel won’t cancel some of their bestselling titles over something as petty as this, but the fact that they’re even thinking about it is downright scary. Instead of two of the biggest film studios in the world working together to make some great movies even more epic, they’re going to continue bickering until someone does something stupid. And the ones who are going to suffer the most are the fans like you and me.


5. The Complete Butchering of the Source Material

Now for my biggest “fanboy gripe,” and the biggest problem with Marvel not being in charge of all of their characters appearing in movies. Do you know why The Avengers was such a good movie? Because it stayed faithful to the source material (mostly). From the constant friction between the heroes to Loki being the first supervillain they fight, The Avengers was the superhero movie that every comic fan wanted to see. Sure they left out Ant-Man and the Wasp and injected a lot more Nick Fury (though that was likely inspired by the Ultimates Universe), but for the most part Avengers was the same movie that we fans had been seeing in our heads every time we read the comics.

The same thing can be said for the Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor movies. And the reason for this is that the company responsible for making these movies is the same company that made us fall in love with these characters in the first place. When you take these beloved characters and stories and put them into the hands of people who only care about the bottom line, things tend to get “butchered.” That’s when you have a Peter Parker who went to high school with Mary Jane (as opposed to meeting her in college), a Rogue who is neither Southern and cannot fly, a cosmic cloud named Galactus, a mute Deadpool, and a m*therf*cking Juggernaut tha…okay, that’s enough about that (thinking about Vinnie Jones’ Juggy makes a blood pressure go up), I’m sure you get my point.

Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer are great directors, and most of the butchering isn’t even their fault, but these characters have decades of plot and an established mythos and when all that’s thrown out the window for the sake of an easier to digest plot or to cater to some Hollywood big wig who thinks he’s too cool to actually read a comic book (here’s looking at you Mr. Cage), it tends to send comic fans into a frenzy. I mean seriously, most of these movies could write themselves.


So there’s my list kiddos, I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading more of your lovely (and sometimes disturbing) comments. I’ll see you again next week, until then I leave you with this.

Full-time college student, husband, and father of 4 girls I spend my free time (what is that?) between surfing the interwebs, reading comic books (mainly Batman and X-Men titles), watching movies/TV, playing video games, and the occasional Magic the Gathering or Heroclix tournament. I'm a retired Blood Elf Paladin and on my twentieth year as a Dungeon Master. My large-yet-loving family is filled out by our 2 cats, Slade and Starfire.
  • Liam Thomas

    In all fairness, in the post-credits scene of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it is established that not only had Deadpool survived but his mouth was sliced back open, as evidenced by him ‘shushing’ the audience. But apart from that most of these points are pretty spot-on.

  • Netherman14

    The Avengers sucked, too much humor, not much serious scenes.

    • RandomGuy

      The Avengers, and Marvel Studios in general strive to make movies that appeal to a majority audience instead of a few people who want different movies. Marvel stuck with their guns of making a funny movie with some action. They didn’t want to make a gritty Dark Knight type Avengers. This is also why they are so successful. Unfortunately for people who wanted a serious movie got disappointed. However the funny/action movies stuck with people making the movie much more successful than a serious Avengers would of been.

    • MichaelRWorthingon

      The Avengers is the best comic book movie made so far…it wasn’t supposed to be overly “serious” like the Nolan Batman films (which are a drag). It is supposed to be fun, and it was… and everyone liked it but you.

  • BarrSinister

    Reading your list here over breakfast and It’s about as refreshing and relevant as tis first cup of coffee I’m drinking. Dead on in all of the points and number one couldn’t be more sublime (especially in the between the lines commentary!). Maybe more people actual Marvelfiles with a regular column and enough readers will shame the bottom line film makers into adhering more to the staple story lines, and events in the traditional Marvel continuum. Great article and thank you for making clear to the uninitiated what an important piece the current incarnation of Marvel-sourced films are missing from their core.

    • Darth Rick

      Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • SomeGuy

    You had me until the last one, where your arguments completely fall apart. You point out examples of “Mary Jane and Peter being in High School together being inaccurate, yet fully acknowledge Sam Jackson’s Fury being black is due to well the Ultimate universe, guess what else the Ultimate Universe did, yeah. Seriously, its not like Marvel Studios films follow the comic to a T, for one Black Widow wasn’t in the Avengers initial roster, Jarvis wasn’t a computer program, there was no Coulson, or discussing of Schwarma, and don’t get me started on The Mandarin. All your points except for the last one are sound. Guess what, there are like several dozen versions of these iconic comic characters, why redo the same stories on screen, when you can create new, and interesting prospect for them? Following the source material to a T isn’t important its staying true to the CORE essential elements of the characters.

    • Jason Tadd Jackson

      While the don’t follow the comics to a “T” they are much more faithful than the other studies. And the only reason Black Widow and Hawkeye were in the Avengers was because the writers strike from a few years ago delayed the “Ant-Man” movie and they needed replacements.

      • SomeGuy

        At this point,you’re just reaching. Yes, they remain faithful, but then this becomes a vague subjective topic, because at the end of the day, every studio still captured the core essence of the characters. My argument isn’t that they are faithful, rather they are as faithful as the other studios.

        • Jason Tadd Jackson

          ” rather they are as faithful as the other studios.”

          No. It varies from studio to studio. Fox for instance is not faithful at all to the comics.

          • SomeGuy

            F4 aside, to claim they aren’t still faithful to the Xmen is a lack of understanding the property. Just because they don’t adapt the superficial elements from the comics doesn’t mean they aren’t faithful.

          • Jason Tadd Jackson

            Cause Mystique grew up with Prof X, Alex Summers is older than Scott, Juggernaut is a mutant, Pyro was an X-man and Storm isn’t African. Yeah totally faithful.

          • Darth Rick

            ^ This.

    • The_Eternal_Dalek

      The key difference is though when Marvel change something they do it because they want to be different. When Fox do it it is out of genuine dislike for what went before.

      Marvel show their fans respect, groups like Fox (who have Bryan Singer, who openly despises comic books) or DC (who have David S. Goyer, who made a fair few comments recently about people with any form of basic knowledge about the Justice League that weren’t very nice) are making the fans hate and despise them because they are trying to act “cool” and it is obviously creating a backlash, not that it ever seems to affect the wider public.

      • SomeGuy

        With Singer, he openly disliked it back in the days before working on the first. He now loves the franchise after having picked up several Xmen comics. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have bothered working on it. As for being different due to dislike, everything they changed is all superficial elements, they still kept the core aspects of the Xmen. Would I like to see Wolverine’s classic outfit, yes, but that’s not going to make or break the movies for me, and many others.

        • The_Eternal_Dalek

          It all depends on your point of view. Singer and the other directors, writers, producers, etc. certainly got the core of it right (the whole discrimination message) but beyond that there are some flaws even amongst the team. Ultimately the cause of that is the over reliance on Wolverine and giving him such a large part in the movies which given limited run time squashes out other characters to near trivial roles (would you really think Cyclops is the team leader just from watching the movies for example?) Given their intentions in future I hope this situation will be sorted out in time, but there is a very good chance all that will happen is they’ll ditch Wolverine and put all the attention on Gambit instead, rather than giving many other characters the chance to shine.

          Look at First Class, a good film exploring other characters, but Hugh Jackman gets one line and steals the show.

  • blacknova84

    Most is agreeable except the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver part. Their even listed on imdb as both Pietro Maximoff/ Quicksilver and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. Their able to use the characters because it’s a grey area. Yes, they debuted in X-Men comics but they were recruited to the Avengers relatively quickly. This basically made them up for grabs to both FOX, and Marvel Studios. However, the one thing that Marvel studios CAN NOT do with any character is call them a mutant. This is why at the end of Captain America 2 when they are shown in the HYDRA facility they are called “miracles”.

    • The_Eternal_Dalek

      It’s even more complicate than that, Marvel did have the sense to try and share the word “mutant” but then the Fox lawyers got to them and now there is a court order banning them from ever using the word for as long as Fox own the X-Men (although in theory they can still use the concept of a mutant, hence “miracles”).

      Not that Fox have used the Scarlet Witch yet of course. Bryan Singer was keen to stress that wasn’t her, of course though he lacked the comic book knowledge to call her “Lorna”.

  • Justa Badman

    I have “lamented” this since the first Avengers movie. When the Avengers fought the all-out war in Manhattan, I was half hoping that the Fantastic Four or Spiderman would show up as they are New York based heroes. I also was hoping Wolverine would saunter by because he would have just loved cutting loose in that fray. Justa Badman