Marvel Comics–Who owns the rights to what?

As a follow up from today’s “Marvel Monday” I decided to explain the movie rights to Marvel characters and which studio owns what. First for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, those who are thinking “they are all Marvel characters doesn’t Marvel have all the rights” I will explain how Marvel first lost their film rights.

Back in the 80s & 90s before comic book movies became as popular as they are now Marvel was going bankrupt, not a little broke but totally bankrupt & the only way they could stay afloat was if they sold of the movie rights to some of their characters. In 1985 they put the rights to “spiderman” up for sale eventually selling to Cannon Films which was a small studio at the time. Cannon films then went bankrupt and the ownership of spiderman continued to change hands until it was back in the hands of marvel in 1999. Marvel then turned around and sold it again this time to Sony pictures for $7 million releasing their first Spiderman movie in 2002. Marvel studios then began releasing their own films, creating the MCU in 2008 with the release of Ironman before selling the studio to Disney in 2009.  Also during the time of feared bankruptcy Marvel sold the rights to Fantastic Four & the Xmen to 20th Century Fox. Now although they have had a civil relationship with Sony over the years the relationship between Marvel and Fox has been quite rocky.

There has been back and forth lawsuits between the two companies most notably about the copyright of the term “Mutant” which was part of the sale of X-men. All characters relating to the two franchises (FF & XMEN) belongs to Fox now… no wait… no they don’t. For some odd reason Scarlet Witch & Quick Silver are both in the middle ground between Fox & Marvel (which explains the two quicksilvers in the two competing universes.) Unfortunately this same middle ground does not exist between Sony and Marvel over the ownership of spiderman. Sony completely owns the rights to spiderman/peter parker along with most every character portrayed in the spiderman comics (uncle ben, mary jane, Jonah Jameson and so on) so unfortunately there will be no spiderman action in any upcoming avengers movies unless Sony sells the rights back to Marvel or decides to collaborate with them. Another avenger who’s rights are not in Marvel’s grasps are Wolverine, Fox completely owns all movie rights to the character along with Professor X, Magneto, Pyro etc. including the non-mutants in the films such as Stryker.

Anyways there’s the break down of who owns what. below is an infographic as well that displays the same info visually.

**Unfortunately this also means there will be no “xmen vs avengers” films in the near future either. Fox is holding on tight despite Marvel’s desire to retrieve the rights to those characters.

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