The question of rights to Marvel characters has long been significant for deciding who gets to appear in which movie. Indeed, the success of the MCU has partly been down to Disney’s ruthless exploitation of Marvel’s IP, now extended to properties previously held by 20th Century Fox. The ongoing dispute over the Spider-Man rights show just how important a bargaining chip a character can be for a studio’s future plans and helping to sort through the complexity of these rights is a new graphic from The Geek Twins, which breaks down which company owns which Marvel character.
You can see the original Tweet with the graphic here, or in the gallery below, but to give a brief rundown of where things stand at the moment, rights are split into four sometimes overlapping bubbles: Marvel Studios at Disney, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures and Netflix. It’s no surprise that the Disney section is the largest, taking in everyone from Iron Man to the newly acquired X-Men and the Fantastic Four, through to less-explored superhero teams like Alpha Flight and the stars of upcoming Disney Plus shows.
Disney overlap with Universal Pictures a bit, too, due to deals made for characters orbiting the Hulk, with Namor and his complicated rights sitting between the two studios at the moment, and Rick Jones, or A-Bomb, seemingly outside the Marvel sphere altogether. Sony Pictures are the other major stakeholder in Marvel via Spider-Man and his assorted friends, family and villains, at least until a new deal can be arranged to continue using them in the MCU.
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Finally, Netflix have their Defenders universe, including Daredevil and the Punisher, with an overlap on Kingpin with Sony. These rights will expire in two years though, allowing Marvel to potentially introduce the characters as part of the MCU proper, having already been loosely connected to the main franchise continuity. Of course, it wouldn’t be Marvel without Stan Lee, either, who gets his own special place in the visual guide.
All in all, the graphic represents an impressive effort to tie together what’s currently on the table for Marvel, and should prove handy when trying to work out who can be incorporated into Disney’s Phase 4 and any subsequent live-action properties.