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Characters Marvel Sold: Here’s A List!

With all the superhero movies taking off nowadays, there’s plenty of cash to be made. The Avengers alone made $1.5 billion worldwide in keeping with IMDb, while franchises like Spider-Man have made a habit of breaking box office records. Way back before they were cash cows though, Marvel saw their various superheroes as commodities to be sold off to form a fast buck. Starting as early as 1985, franchises were offered up to studios like Sony, 20th Century Fox, and more, culminating in a very whole mess of reasons why Marvel can’t bring characters they created into the cinematic fold.

Each studio with a Marvel property keeps it obnoxiously guarded, knowing well about the moneymaking potential each respective franchise has. While it might add up for the rights to return to their original creators, the present owners have kept an iron grip since they first acquired their various properties.

1. Spider-Man

spider man

Owned by: Sony Pictures (and Marvel, sort of)

Eight years before Marvel Studios even existed, the magazine publisher sold the rights to Spider-Man and then ensued a series of acquisitions and contracts that eventually landed it at Sony Pictures. Even though it was their first movie they raked in over an estimated $800 million at worldwide box offices, generating two more sequels and a gradually series reboot. However, since the discharge of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the franchise came to a screeching halt in the wake of sub-par box office returns.

A bargain remains between Marvel and Sony though has clouded the lines of ownership. The agreement reached by both studios goes as follows: Sony retains the standalone movie rights to Spider-Man, Marvel gets creative control over the web-slinger all told formats, and both parties get to run away rich. Marvel’s already included a recast Spider-Man in Captain America: war, and might still have him appear in future properties. On Sony’s side, 2017’s released  Spider-Man: Homecoming has marked their first collaborative film with Marvel.

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2. The Fantastic Four

Characters Marvel Sold
The Fantastic Four

Owned by: 20th Century Fox

Back in 2005, 20th Century Fox thought that they had the subsequent big movie franchise once they released their Fantastic Four movie. However, after one failure of a sequel, the franchise remained passive until Fox released a similarly reviled reboot.

The big problem here is that any new character created within this universe by Marvel within the comics automatically becomes the property of Fox. This, in turn, led to speculation that the recent cancellation of the superb Four comic series was an on-the-spot response thereto. Marvel even reportedly issued an edict that was consistent with A.V. Club, writers were “forbidden to make new characters,” lest they find themselves in Fox’s pocket in theaters.

In an excellent stranger turn of events, rumors flew around that Marvel and Fox had come to an accord over the rights, putting the superb Four firmly back in Marvel’s hands. Both studios soon came out and refuted this, but it still makes us wonder: are some things within the works? Perhaps it was a preliminary deal that has yet to be finalized, or even even worse, an agreed-upon deal that fell through at the last second.

3. X-Men

Characters Marvel Sold

Owned by: 20th Century Fox (sort of)

Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men film found itself the first commercial success for a superhero movie, getting the ball rolling for the following decade-plus of franchises. But 20th Century Fox’s rights for the X-Men contain some strange issues. First and foremost, Fox does still need Marvel to log out on all television deals regarding the X-Men in any capacity. Second, Fox completely owns the proper to the term “mutant,” and by extension any characters who are a part of the X-Men within the comic universe.

On the opposite side of the aisle, Marvel owns the rights to the Avengers and any character who was a primary member of that team in print. Two characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have historically been members of both superhero teams, making it so both Marvel and Fox have the film’s rights to those characters.

Is your head spinning yet? Because it’s getting ready to go downhill. Fox’s ownership of the word “mutant” makes it therefore the Avengers lose Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s origin stories as Magneto’s offspring (and by extension, mutants), but not the characters themselves. What Marvel’s done instead is claim they were a part of experiments by Hydra to make superhumans, integrating them into Avengers: Age of Ultron. The legal rights to every are incredibly twisted and convoluted, but when this much money is on the road it’s always visiting be.

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4. Deadpool


Owned by: 20th Century Fox

Back in 2009, we saw our first-ever film appearance from Deadpool, the enduring fourth-wall-breaking merc with a mouth, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He was manipulated by Ryan Reynolds and, in the end, gave us a sight of the character that only presented to anger fans when he ended up as a mouthless mutant zombie.

However, fans were pleased when the favored character was given a much-needed redemption through his standalone movie. The positive buzz around the reboot has even led Fox to verify that a Deadpool sequel is within the works. But as a personality a minimum of loosely affiliated with the X-Men, his rights belong solely to Fox for the foreseeable future. Sorry, Marvel.

5.  Namor

Characters Marvel Sold

Owned by:  Marvel

Namor is one of the oldest characters within the Marvel universe, created way back in 1939 when the house was bankrupt and selling off property like candy. referred to as “The Sub-Mariner,” he’s the Marvel such as DC’s Aquaman, often finding himself crossing paths with the X-Men and also the Avengers. But neither Universal nor Marvel (supposedly) completely own the rights of character.

In 2014, detailed the long, strange saga, where, despite owning some sort of rights to Namor, Marvel still can’t green-light a movie due to legal complications with Universal. that very same article cites a quote from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, saying that while they technically retain rights, “there are older contracts that also involve other parties that mean we want to figure things out before we move forward on that.”

However, in 2016, Marvel Chief Joe Quesada claimed and clarified Marvel’s ownership of the Sub-Mariner, knowing that the rights currently belong to Marvel Studios. When pressed on whether Namor would be appearing within the MCU anytime soon, he cryptically teased that he “cannot confirm or deny.”

6. The Silver Surfer

Characters Marvel Sold
The Silver Surfer

Owned by: 20th Century Fox

We saw the Silver Surfer show up within the second Fantastic Four movie, but since then he hasn’t been seen or heard from again. As an iconic character that actually could hold his franchise, it’s baffling, to mention the smallest amount, to determine him sidelined the way he has been within the cinematic universe. Maybe it’s the fact that Fox doesn’t predict a silver space alien will connect with audiences, or perhaps they will reintegrate him into an amazing Four sequel. regardless of the reason, the Surfer has remained curiously absent.

Marvel Studios likely saw the identical franchise opportunity. In an alleged proposal by Marvel Studios reported by Collider back in 2012, the studio said they might send the rights to Daredevil over to Fox in exchange for the Silver Surfer. Alas, the trade never came to fruition, leaving the Surfer within the hands of Fox.

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7. Galactus


Owned by: 20th Century Fox

Galactus is well known collectively of Marvel’s biggest, worst villains, existing right up there with the likes of Thanos. Unfortunately, because 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the amazing Four and also the Silver Surfer, that brings Galactus under their umbrella still. His function as the Fantastic Four’s main villain puts him firmly in Fox’s camp for the certain future,  keeping him away from the MCU indefinitely.

8. The Incredible Hulk

Characters Marvel Sold
The Incredible Hulk

Owned by: Universal (sort of)

This one may come as a touch of a surprise to several fans, especially since the Incredible Hulk has been a key player in both of Marvel’s Avengers movies. The thing is, Marvel’s rights to the character are a tad dicey, to mention the smallest amount. While they are doing hold production rights to the Hulk, Universal still has distribution rights. meaning for any standalone Hulk movie Marvel makes, Universal prints the physical film, negotiates with individual theaters, and they have the ultimate say on when it releases, additionally because of the format it goes out on. In short, they’d receive a large cut of the spoils, which explains why Marvel hasn’t given the character his film since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

9. Wolverine


Owned by: 20th Century Fox

It stands to reason that ownership of the X-Men and Deadpool gives 20th Century Fox the rights to Wolverine furthermore, but it’s still worth mentioning all the identical. Wolverine has been the central figure in Fox’s mutant saga since its beginning in 2000, since generation three standalone films. We saw Hugh Jackman take his last turn within the role in the film Logan, leaving us to ponder whether his days are numbered on-screen.

10. Venom


Sony is functioning on its own shared Marvel universe (distinct from the MCU) known by the catchy name ‘Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters.

The Tom Hardy-starring Venom movie won’t have impressed the critics with its messy anti-hero antics, but having scored quite $500 million at the box office, it’s assured the discharge of Sony’s other planned Spider-Man spin-offs, including films starring Morbius, Silk, Jackpot, fisher and more.

Interestingly, it’s been suggested that Venom’s success might make Sony less likely to ever surrender and hand the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel Studios/Disney.

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Ayushman Maurya
Ayushman Maurya
I used to be an introvert having a friend or two at most. Everything changed after high school. With the wildest friend circle in school, my personality developed. I explored various fields then which helped me broaden my horizon. I started watching anime and reading manga in high school as well. I have already watched more than 400+ anime and read 50+ manga/manhua/manhwa. I also started writing to express my thoughts about them. I am always keen on discussions regarding anime and manga.

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