Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

Published 2 years ago by , Updated June 4th, 2014 at 8:12 am,

marvel character composit Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

[We first published this article years ago, but with the continued questions and hope for impossible cameos in movies, we thought it might be a good time to bring this to your attention once again. - Editor]

Here’s a breakdown of the whole thing in list form.

NOTE: Since the time of writing this, the rights to Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Punisher and Blade have all reverted back to Marvel Studios.

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Marvel Characters Movie Studio Ownership 570x456 Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

20th Century Fox

  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom/Victor von Doom, Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Invisible Woman/Susan Storm, Mr. Fantastic/Dr. Reed Richards, The Thing/Ben Grimm, Nova/Frankie Raye, Alicia Masters, Willie Lumpkin
  • X-Men Mutants: [Agent Zero/Maverick/David North], Angel/Warren Worthington III, Arclight/Phillippa Sontag, Beast/Dr. Henry Phillip “Hank” McCoy, [Blob/Frederick J. Dukes], [Bolt/Christopher Bradley], Callisto, Colossus/Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin, Cyclops/Scott Summers, [Deadpool/Wade Wilson], Emma (Grace) Frost, Jean Grey/Phoenix, Juggernaut/Cain Marko, Gambit/Remy LeBeau, Glob Herman/Herman Gardner, Iceman/Bobby Drake, Jubilee/Jubilation Lee, Katherine “Kitty” Anne Pryde, [Kestrel/John Wraith], Lady Deathstrike/Yuriko Oyama, Leech, Magneto/Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, Mastermind/Jason (Wyngarde), Multiple Man/James Arthur Madrox, Mystique/Raven Darkholme, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner, Phat/William Robert “Billy-Bob” Reilly, Professor Charles Xavier, Psylocke/Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock, Pyro/St. John Allerdyce, Quill/Max Jordan, Rogue/(Anna) Marie, Sabretooth/Victor Creed, Sebastian Hiram Shaw, [Silver Fox], Siryn/Theresa Rourke Cassidy, (The) Spike, Storm/Ororo Munroe, Wolverine/Logan
  • X-Men Non-Mutants: Drake Family (Steven, Madeline, Ronny), Grey Family (Dr. John, Elaine), Henry Peter Gyrich, Robert Edward Kelly, Dr. Moira Kinross MacTaggert, Dr. Kavita Rao, William Stryker, Bolivar Trask, Warren Worthington II

Sony Pictures

  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Doctor Octopus/Otto Octavius, Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, (New) Green Goblin/Harry Osborn, [The Lizard]/Dr. Curt Connors, Sandman/Flint Marko, Venom/Eddie Brock Jr., Vulture, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, Black Cat/Felicia Hardy, Silver Sable, Electro/Max Dillon, Rhino, Carnage/Cletus Kasady, Sinister Six, Shocker, Chameleon, The Gentleman, Dr. Ashley Kafka, Beetle, Betty Brant, Dennis Carradine (Buglar), J. Jonah Jameson, Ben Parker, May Parker, John Jameson, Joseph “Robbie” Robertson, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, Mendel Stromm, Flash Thompson, Allistair Smythe, Spider-Slayers, Miles Warren/Jackal,

Marvel Studios

  • EVERY OTHER MARVEL CHARACTER

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE:  With X-Men Origins: Wolverine a little under three weeks from release, we here at Screen Rant thought an overview of all Marvel properties (and possibilities) might be in order. Though the new independent studio is now producing their own films, solely distributed by Paramount Pictures, there are a number of iconic characters still residing at Hollywood’s other major studios.

Now that the film division of Marvel Entertainment exists, we’ve seen questions around the inter-webs about certain properties and copyrights concerning top-tier Marvel characters. Many readers have been calling for Wolverine to cameo in the expected 2012 film Avengers, but there’s a little problem with that potential geekgasm.

With 20th Century FOX co-producing the Wolvie flick, getting the character to play nice on a self-produced Marvel film is going to be rather difficult. In legal speak, Fox owns a piece of the X-Men film franchise; they have the “rights” to produce any character that frequently appears in the X-Men Universe, projects like X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Magneto insure Fox will be milking that property for everything it’s possibly worth. Ultimately, any mutants like Bishop, Cable, Emma Frost, Juggernaut, Havoc, Psylocke, or Quicksilver would likely appear through a Fox-funded lens.

At one point, the character Deadpool, was at New Line Cinema (along with a story by Blade Trilogy screenwriter David Goyer). The trail for a “Merc with a Mouth” solo project went cold during production of Blade: Trinity. With the rights now at Fox, there may be new life or even a Cable/Deadpool project at some point. So it isn’t all bad news, that is of course unless you think Fox makes bad comic book movies. *hint hint, nudge nudge*

fox marvel movies Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

But that isn’t all – Fox’s studio also has dibs on anything Daredevil, Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer.  [For the heavy comic book readers, that means a Civil War movie is likely out of the question. Probably any "Marvel Event" is out of the question.] It’s been some time, but the wounds haven’t healed from the public’s viewing of Daredevil and Elektra. A Daredevil reboot (with Jason Statham expressing interest in becoming “The Man Without Fear”) was in the pipeline some time ago but recently the project’s been quiet. Due to outdated contracts and loopholes, Marvel has their top tier characters at Columbia Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment, New Line Cinema and the aforementioned, Fox.

We’ve seen the flipping images of Marvel’s title sequence for a number of years now. Co-productions between the indie studio and majors began in 1998; now Blade, Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, Punisher and Spider-Man are subsequently licensed elsewhere. Thus, creative control is out of hands of its comic book roots.

The first character was Blade, at New Line Cinema. After three pictures and some legal troubles between Daywalker-actor Wesley Snipes and the studio, it looks like that film run is over. Whispers of Blade IV, or a spin-off involving the Nightstalkers, were circulating some months ago but nothing concrete has surfaced. The Spike TV series was canceled due to a number of unconfirmed reasons so the Blade property, at this point, is pretty dead – but that doesn’t really stop vampires.

wesley snipes expendables 3 Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

As an interesting tidbit (which will be elaborated upon shortly) during an alternate ending of the first Blade, a shadowy figure on a distant rooftop wrapped in rags has said to be the Marvel’s resident vampire Morbius.

Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures) is in control of two properties, all things Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. Last appearances of both characters was in 2007, which can explain the seemingly random development updates for a Venom solo project, Spider-Man 4 and Ghost Rider 2. If Columbia has any interest, they can take Black Cat or Carnage and introduce them in the next film; the same applies to Blackheart, Abigor, Wallow and Gressil. As a general rule, any time a studio introduces a comic book character, they have the rights to produce a spin-off or include that character in a sequel of some fashion.

So Morbius, who Spider-Man director Sam Raimi has said to be interested in interpreting, may have some problems if the character isn’t cleared with New Line Cinema.

Amazing Spider Man 2 Morbius Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

If Columbia Pictures wanted to be a little ballsy, they could go after the entire Blade package and shoot  Midnight Sons–the fictional team of Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, Blade, Hannibal King, Morbius and Doctor Strange. Wait… then again, should another studio (that’s not Marvel) be in charge of a project like that? Never mind.

Marvel also has regained the rights to Luke Cage from Sony Pictures, so the possibility of a Heroes for Hire movie with him and Iron Fist is not out of the question. Universal has the rights to Namor, but they may be willing to let it revert back to Marvel in exchange for distribution rights.

And the final studio that’s exercised Marvel film property, responsible for 2005′s Man-Thing and last year’s Punisher: War Zone, is Lionsgate Entertainment. After a quiet release, there’s been little movement with nature’s monstrous creature. There are few characters independently introduced through the Man-Thing comics, so there isn’t much to do in terms of a spin-off. Elsewhere, Frank Castle may be up against Barracuda in a possible sequel but no official release has been issued by the imprint. The lackluster reception, being the lowest grossing film based on a Marvel Comic property will do that to ya, gives high hopes that the project will be moved elsewhere. Keep in mind the project was just last year, so if you had hopes of Wolverine and Punisher sorting out their differences on the big screen-like yours truly-it’ll be some time.

marvel studios logo Answered: Which Studios Own Which Marvel Characters

The initial financing deal, for Marvel Entertainment, Inc., consists of $525 million for the possible production of 10 films, based on its comic book properties, over the next seven years. The debt facility will fund initial development, including scripts for each production, and they maintain sole “green light” control. Understandably there are some restrictions to taking a loan, Marvel cannot withdraw profits until after the release of the third film and only if certain financial parameters are met. The original properties for those 10 films, announced in the press release, were Captain America, Nick Fury, The Avengers, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi. In the original press release, the budget’s ceiling is at $165 million and can have a “rating no more restrictive than PG-13.” The explanation of why Marvel had been doing everything on the cheap was apparent from its initial deal.

Looking forward, Marvel can regain their characters but it’ll be nothing short of jumping through a ring of fire. The studio can shell out truckloads of cash to buy them back or wait for box office numbers to be so bad the studio that owns them doesn’t have any interest in following them up, ie. Ang Lee’s Hulk (thanks, Universal!). Not meeting a deadline for filming the property is the easiest way – most of the contracts have a clause that allows the rights to revert back to Marvel if principle photography doesn’t begin by a certain date after the initial release or if they make an upfront payment as if they were going to start principal photography. This, in part, is the reason we see studios releasing films in rapid succession.

The possibility of Marvel having complete control of their character properties, like its comic rival DC, is a matter of time.

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Source: Comic Book Resources, Marvel, IMDB, NY Times, Variety

TAGS: captain america, spider-man 4, the avengers, the wolverine

244 Comments

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  1. I believe that Marvel Studios is the best place for these titles. The big one for me is X-Men. I mean I love what they have come out with, but I think X-Men need more movies.
    Fantastic Four and Spider-Man are also two big blows to the nuts. The first three spider-mans were a total disgrace to Marvel, and I think they need to return home to get a proper treatment.
    Fantastic Four wasn’t great, and it also needs the Marvel Studios touch.

    I mean were talking the three biggest Comic’s in Marvel History, and they aren’t owned by Marvel.

    Also I am 100% for a “avengers” like re-creation, for the Justice League. I am a way bigger Marvel fan, but I NEED Justice League to have the same treatment.
    First they release SuperMan, then a Batman Reboot, then The Flash movie, but they also need to do a SuperWomen movie, and then add a Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern into a sequel, and add in the Martian for the big movie! Like make the “Justice League” movie based on the Martian. To do all of this, Superman or Batman needs to have a cameo in each of the films talking about a “martain” or something.

  2. Plejer normalt at være på Filmz men har lige hørt om det her og synes det er en god hjemmeside, men nu synes jeg det for meget det her, at nu vil Fox lave en Fantastic Four remake i 2015 samme år som Avengers 2 og Justice League og Avatar 2 og Star Wars 7, det for meget må jeg lige tilstå, men håber på den er god :), desuden håber jeg også de stopper med Wolverine med Hugh Jackman precuels, jo længere tilbage de går jo ældre se han ud, skørt!. Oh ja Filmz det er Dr. Strange der tidligere hed Nafie der skriver lige nu. This commentary is on Danish

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    Å de

    • Ok Filmz jeg følger stadig jeres hjemmeside, men The Insider i hope you Will Like Star Trek 2, hey tænk hvis de laver en Star Trek 3 i 2015 også så vil det være en magisk år

  3. How updated is this list?

    And how possible is it for any of these rights to revert back to Marvel? Is there a time limit on them, or is it just whenever a studio feels it isn’t profitable any longer?

    For the most part, all of these studios are mishandling these properties, aside from Marvel.

    • yes, theres a time limit, if that film is not made in specific date, the studio will lose the rights of the character or franchise thus it reverts back to Marvel

    • The list appears to be updated for the most part. Though I think that Dardevil and all characters related to him have reverted back to Marvel a few months ago.
      Though I am very curious if anyone knows if rights to Namor still resides w/Universal or if it also has reverted Marvel?

  4. Updates:

    Marvel has reacquired the rights to “Ghost Rider,” “The Punisher,” “Blade” and “Daredevil”. Doesn’t sound like they plan to use them right away.

    http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/26980/marvel-takes-back-blade-punisher-rider

  5. Gotta love how this list can change so much in a year (says a year up top but i think more like 1.5-2 at this point). Fox will likely try and fail with Fantastic Four, then Marvel will get that. I think X-Men is setting itself up for an eventual death with Days of Futures Past’s convoluted storyline but has a few more movies in it. Maybe by the time we see Avengers 3 we might get to reference Mutants and the Baxter Building. As for Spidey, I think Disney will just have to pull another cash cow move and buy it for big bucks. I doubt the Amazing Spider-Man series has more than two more movies in it.

  6. I see nothing good in Marvel taking rights back. Lets be honest here. Disney/Marvel didn’t succeed much. Thay made:

    Good:
    - Iron man

    Just below good:
    - Avengers

    Average:
    - Captain America
    - Hulk (2008)

    Below average:
    - everything else

    Fox and Sony made some mistakes but they both started a new era of comic based movies. If its not for them this stuff would drag many years. They had:

    Good:
    - X-men 2
    - Spiderman 2
    - Amazing Spiderman
    - X-men: first class
    - X-men
    - Spiderman

    Average:
    - Spiderman 3
    - Ghost Rider
    - Fantastic Four

    Below average:
    - everything else but

    s*** tier:
    - Elektra
    - Ghost Rider 2

    And don’t forget Disney doesn’t take any chances it makes something that could make more money with the simpliest formula. So you’ll stuck in Disney Land without any experiments from movie makers.
    And i don’t like idea of pushing X-men in crossover stories neither in the comics nor in the movies. Their world is huge and pushing them would rise more questions than good answers. They had to make “House of M” in the comics to solve the riddle that left a bad taste in a mouth. X-men stories were always more mature then Avengers, Ironman and Hulk. They rised more human problems and didn’t have just the simple idea of beating someone who is clearly a bad guy.
    And don’t forget that Spiderman wouldn’t be so feared and would be contacted by X-men as well as organizations that were figthing against mutants.

    Doing Marvel way of making one big company just for the sake of some kids joy at the expense of simple undeniable logic is not a viable option in my opinion.

    • GUIESE! You sir are dumb,how has marvel/disney not succeeded all they’ve done is succeed the avengers is the 3rd grossing movie of all time! And iron man is like top 20 or something, none of the movies from the other studios are even top 50 other than spider man. And once the amazing spider man2 flops ( if they even make another one) marvel will gain the rights back. Same with x-men… I hope because marvel should have all they’re rights.

      • I really hope Marvel studios regains the other movie rights as well.
        They could then do cross overs with out having to worry about a law suit. Also it allow Marvel Studios to finally put civil war and world war hulk on the big screen. That is some-thing I been wanting to see for a long time.

      • You are wrong Amazing Spiderman will not flop.
        When it is released it will be the best spiderman ever.

    • Haha guiese, you must be a comedian. As you should know opinion are like a-holes, everyone has one, so you saying how good or bad Marvel’s movies were has zero impact on their success. Avengers was one of the highest selling of all time, let alone the top selling superhero movie of all time. Marvel owns the superhero movie field. Superman is a lame duck that rode on the coattails of Marvel’s success, yet no other DC movie came close. DC will likely sputter out with Gigli boy playing Batman in the next movie. The Spiderman movie just released was a joke and failed badly (and predicts future failure) and the only other non-Marvel superhero movie of any real note is Days of Future Past. The FF movies are likely to fail, but X-Men might continue its winning streak. All of this while Disney/Marvel kill it with character no sane person would bet on. Thor and Captain America did really well in this day and age?! Now Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man are on the way. If Marvel gets those right, there will be no end to what they can do.

      Hell, even their TV material is getting better (I’ll give you that they made some serious errors like cancelling Earth’s Mightiest for Assemble, a much worse show). Shield is finally getting good, Agent Carter being a WW2 period piece might be super exciting and the Netflix series sounds epic with Marvel (re)introducing a cadre of lesser known titans. Imagine Marvel having 2 superhero teams on the go!!! Avengers Vs. Defenders in 2022!!!! Madness!!!

  7. was probably typed earlier.. but the writer should realize… Juggernaut is not a mutant in the 616 universe

    he’s only a mutant int he ultimates universe.

  8. How much would it cost for Disney/Marvel to buy back the film rights to the Marvel characters that it currently does not have?

    Is it worth the price?

  9. Why can’t Disney “rent” Spider-Man or any of the X-Men characters for use in an upcoming Avengers movie?

  10. So, basically, the only rights Marvel still hasn’t reacquired are Spiderman, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, arguably some of the most valuable ones out there. X-Men alone, is like a mini-studio on it’s own. You got, at least, 8-9 various teams that can be exploited for movie possibilities once the main crew gets “boring” for audiences. Excalibur, X-Force, X-Factor, New Mutants, Alpha Flight, X-Statix, Exiles, X-Men, Generation X… heck, even more if you delve deeper like (http://www.comicvine.com/profile/theundead/lists/mutant-teams/19108/)

    • And Universal owns Namor…for how long?i do not know

      • They own Namor?! No film has been made and it must have been sold (the rights) before the Disney buy out, so I am kind of shocked Namor isn’t back with Marvel. Namor is one of their oldest and most classic anti-heroes.

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  12. uh… nova corps is in guardians of the galaxy which is marvel so… no.

  13. Should be noted, episode 20 of Marvel’s Agents of Shield “Man-Thing” is name dropped as existing in the MCU. So I think that it’s safe to assume it’s reverted to/ been purchased by Marvel Studios?

  14. WTF man? Spiderman better with SONY! They made the movies amazing than the marvel studios, now please watch AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2. Much better than the philantropist tonny stark and the mighty chriss hemsworth… Honestly, I huge fans of marvel

  15. Who owns the rights to new material?

    If Marvel comics create a new villain for Spider-Man and fans love him/her do Somy automatically get the rights?

    If Marvel comics create a new x-man and they are more popular then Wolverine, do Fox automatically get the rights to him/her?

    If marvel comics create a new race of aliens for the Fantastic four to encounter do Fox automatically get the rights to put them in a film?

    If these are true then why would Marvel spend any money on those franchise, surely they will say wow that new xmen sounds awesome… They are now an inhuman, that alien race will fight the guardians of the galaxy now, that villain would be great fighting Spider-Man… In a captain marvel comic where Spider-Man crosses over.

    Actually it explains why xmen, Spider-Man and fantastic four have been pants for ages..

  16. This is the reason I’m glad that Warner Bros. owns DC.

  17. You shouldn’t be happy that WB owns the rights to DC. See how few films there are? And same for Marvel Studios fanboys who want everything under one roof. Marvel Studios is running at capacity. If you want to see more characters onscreen, you’ll want the properties licensed to spread them around.

    I don’t see Marvel Studios ever getting Disney’s go-ahead to make the R-rated stuff that should be R-rated (ie. Blade, Punisher, Ghost Rider, etc) And DC should license out their dark fantasy characters, say a “Justice League Dark” package to a different studio.

    • He’s Right. WB owning DC isn’t all good. Sure they own the rights to all the characters but Most of them are sitting on the shelf. Which is kinda what will happen if marvel owned all the rights to their characters. Other than Spidey, X-men and avengers the rest of the characters will probably end up on the shelf

  18. Looks like Marvel have the rights to Sub-Mariner back. Roll on Defenders and Invaders.

    • Yeeeeeeaaaaaahh!!!!! IMPERIUS REX!!!!

  19. Does anyone know if teh German Constantin Film, who owned teh Fantastic Four film rights since 1986 and only partnered up with Fox for the last 2 films – still own the rights? I can’t find Constantin Film being mentioned (Wikipedia, IMDb) in the production of the reboot.

    • They still own them as far as I’m aware, I’d imagine they will be the distributors of the new film.

      http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Constantin_Film

      Also as they bought the rights in 1986 I’m pretty sure marvel own the rights to all the side characters after that date, so fox and constantin are just holding the F4 in limbo… Story wise :(

  20. Sony have been doing great with TASM, as have Fox with X-Men tun around. Marvel not having those character has allowed them to make lesser known characters, however someone with some sense needs to get a hold of F4 and Silver Surfer.

    • YES Yes and More Yes. Marvel Studios needs to own Fantastic 4.

  21. LOL,Man-thing and Namor is with Marvel. During an episode of Agents of Shield, Maria Hill asks, “what the hell is a Man-Thing?” while in an interview it was confirmed that Marvel does indeed own Namor.

  22. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/hollywood-guilds-want-supreme-court-714104

    “n 1976, it also crafted the termination provision so as to allow authors to reclaim rights over their creations in the latter period of the copyright term. Some say that the decision to do this was a “compromise”: Yes, the copyright term became longer, but the benefits of the longer term would potentially go to authors who had given up rights when they were new to the industry and hadn’t much bargaining power.”

    Looks like copyright law is on the side of the Kirby estate, even if they are to poor vs Marvel, Disney, Fox, Sony and I guess universal to bring use the law. A very interesting read, as much as I love the Marvel films I really really want the creators of an IP to own their work even if they do that work on commission. It should in fairness revert back to the author / artest after a set time.

    It would be funny if the fights to characters were suddenly lost, what would SONY do if Spider-Man was suddenly owned by the Kirby estate etc…

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