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.