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Which Studios Own the Rights to Marvel's Characters?

Ghost Rider

This one is a fairly simple one, seeing Marvel gain back their flaming motorcyclist thanks to the cataclysmic events of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The film wasn't a flop, but it was a hardly record-breaking superhero film that we are now accustomed to. Owned by Sony and Columbia, two lackluster films about Johnny Blaze (starring Nicolas Cage) failed to get the franchise off the ground the rights eventually reverted to Marvel. Even with Spirit of Vengeance, it felt as if the studios were merely going through the motions to satisfy the terms necessary to keep the rights to Ghost Rider. However, with nothing seeming to work, they simply gave up and the rights went home to Marvel.

Since then, we have seen a version character stick on his leathers for his MCU debut in the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but there is no word on whether Marvel will dare to make their own solo film for the character. Given the negative stigma attached to the Cage years and Feige promising to look at heroes that haven't had their own film yet, don't expect this feature to come to our screen in the near-future.

Man-Thing

When Lionsgate acquired the rights to Punisher, Iron Fist, Black Widow, and Man-Thing in 2004, there was so much potential, but so little movement. The tale of the brainless swamp monster was turned into a 2005 film, starring Game of Thrones actor Mark Stevens as the titular Man-Thing, but was an unmitigated disaster. Man-Thing was reportedly so bad some walked out of cinemas before it was over, while Lionsgate eventually moved it to TV as a "Sci-Fi Original." Since then, it appears that Ted Sallis has crawled back into the swap from which he came.

Punisher returned to Marvel in 2013, along with Daredevil, Blade, and Ghost Rider but there was no reference to where we stood on the rights of Man-Thing - it is therefore assumed that he still lies with Lionsgate. That being said, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did nod to the character back in 2014 and his wife, Ellen Brandt, got a mention in Iron Man 3. Similar to Ghost Rider, don't expect this obscure Marvel entity to get much limelight among the diverse roster of heroes and villains.

Namor

As one of the oldest comic book characters out there, Namor, a.k.a "The Sub-Mariner" is Marvel's very own Aquaman. Crossing paths with both the Avengers and the X-Men, even the studios themselves don't know who completely own the rights to the character. Namor is a tricky one, but Universal seems to hold the production rights. With DC making good on its promise to reinvent its own oceanic hero with Jason Momoa, don't expect Disney or Universal to be making any moves on Namor until Aquaman is out of the way.

That being said, there are rumors of some sort of Namor project being in development and fans speculate that Marvel could even make him an Inhuman. With the Inhumans TV series just around the corner, now could be the perfect time to rescue Namor from the depths of the ocean.

Next Page: The Avengers

Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) release date: Jul 07, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
  • Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
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