Though the Fox-Disney deal means that the Marvel Studios finally has access to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, the rights issues over certain characters remain unresolved. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige says that some Marvel characters have yet to “come home“.
Fans were ecstatic when it was announced that Disney had worked out a deal with Sony to use Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though distribution rights still belong to Sony. The heavily publicized purchase of 20th Century Fox gave Disney the rights of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, which was a dream come true for many Marvel fans. It’s the first time that the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Spider-Man (sort of) have been united one roof. However, this doesn’t mean that all Marvel characters can appear in the MCU.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Feige talked about the character rights that Marvel currently doesn’t own. He says that with the Fox deal, they’ll have the “majority,” of Marvel characters, but there are still some “players” that need to be negotiated with:
There are some with a couple of other players involved that would have to be negotiated with. Then, of course, Spider-Man is still with Sony, independent of our agreement to do the films together. But most of them are home now. If that Fox thing happens, yeah, that’ll be the majority.
Feige doesn’t elaborate when he reveals that not all characters have “come home“, but we can make a good guess about who he could be referring to. Arguably the most important Marvel hero yet to appear in a film is Namor the Sub-Mariner, the first Marvel character ever to be created. Marvel sold the rights to Namor to Universal, but it’s been stated a few times that the rights to the character have since reverted back to Marvel. However, the situation with Namor is complicated.
There was a rumor in February of last year that a Namor the Sub-Mariner film or TV series was being filmed in Hawaii, but that particular rumor never actually panned out. It appears that Universal may still own the distribution rights to Namor, which could be what’s keeping Marvel from giving the Savage Sub-Mariner his own movie.
Another character Feige could be referencing is the Hulk. Though the Hulk already has a significant presence in the MCU, he hasn’t had a solo film since The Incredible Hulk, which was distributed by Universal. The problem with the Hulk is that Marvel has the rights to use the Hulk in their films, but aren’t licensed to give Hulk his own movie. That is why the Planet Hulk storyline had to happen in Thor: Ragnarok.
Getting back the X-Men and the Fantastic Four may have once seemed like a long-shot, so maybe Marvel will soon surprise fans by finally bringing all Marvel heroes home.
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