And there came a day unlike any other, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes found themselves unable to band together… because of copyright laws.
We’re now counting down 2 weeks until the release of Iron Man 3, and with the launch of Marvel’s first film after the events of the Avengers, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the way they construct their Cinematic Universe, and what kind of characters we all know and love from comics and television potentially COULD, or, in some cases WONT appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before or in Avengers 2.
Over the years, there have been a constant rotation of heroes that represent the title of the Avengers, each group presenting different character dynamics. There have been over 100 individual heroes enrolled in the Avengers since the series began in 1963, from the Mighty Avengers, akin to what we saw in last year’s film, to the New, Young and even Dark Avengers.
The Marvel Universe is amazingly expansive, but some troubles come with using characters in the film adaptations of these adventures with consideration of copyright issues. I won’t go in detail over how it works exactly, because we’d be here for weeks, and I’m not a law student.
But the way it essentially operates is, before Marvel Studios decided to self finance their movies in 2004, the rights to make films staring these characters were given to production studios in the 1990’s through the early 2000’s to bring those characters to a full cinematic realization. So, some of the top names in the Marvel roster were scattered from Universal, to Sony, to 20th Century Fox.
The rule is, if one of these major production studios does not make a film featuring these characters under a particular time window, (usually about 4 years) or if the film bombs in the box office, then the character returns to Marvel under the House of Disney.
Because of the desperate efforts of major studios trying to crank out new superhero movies for simple reason to hold the rights to the characters, these are some familiar faces will can expect to not see alongside Iron Man, Hulk and the rest of the Avengers for quite a while.
Characters We Will NOT See In Avengers 2
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #1 (1961)
Owned By: 20th Century Fox
Previously seen in: Fantastic 4 (2005) , Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2008)
COMING SOON: Some untitled reboot in the next couple of years
We all remember how brutally awful the 2 Fantastic 4 movies were. The only glimmer of light in them was actually Chris Evans as the Human Torch/Johnny Storm. Of course, he’s on to bigger, more patriotic things now as he plays the role of Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It got most everything wrong, from almost killing Michael Chiklis in that awful rubber suit, to thinking it was a good idea to hire Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman, unless it was a really bad joke about how transparent her acting ability is. (ba-dum. tisss.)
It’s a real shame that Fox is so desperately holding onto this franchise too, as the Fantastic 4 have always been known to work closely with Tony Stark and the Avengers, especially considering the Baxter Building is just around the block from Avenger’s Mansion. Not only that, but the villains Fox has captive with the FF include Galctus and Doctor Doom, both of which have a grander presence in the universe, and could play as fantastic villains for Marvel Studios to round up Avengers to fight against.
Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a drug induced Nicholas Cage alongside the Avengers fighting Loki. As one of the darkest of Marvel’s roster, the Ghost Rider films could have been really cool. Even some of the set pieces in the nearly forgotten sequel from last winter had some great ideas, but, to keep the character under Sony’s control, the writing was sloppy and everything felt completely rushed.
It’s unfortunate, especially since some of Marvel’s other dark characters such as Blade, Punisher and Daredevil are back under the House of Marvel, but we’ll get to them at another time. But, we’ll have to deal with seeing Nicholas Cage on some kind of Firecracker-Heroin riding on a motorcycle for the time being, and try to forget this is supposed to be a superhero movie.
Ultron, the Living Automoton. A robot built by Doctor Pym, who, some of you will soon come to know as Ant Man. Pym based Ultron’s programing on his own brainwave patterns, and as a result, Ultron becomes a self aware machine, and learned how to upgrade it’s body and software alone, eventually coming to the conclusion that humans are more destructive than they are worth. He also always ends up unable to harm Pym’s wife, Wasp/Janet.
While Ultron can make a potential appearance in the Marvel CU, it’s likely he won’t even be mentioned or considered until Ant Man stars in his own film, which will be the first following Avengers 2 in late 2015. Also, introducing Ant Man and Ultron would make the Universe almost too complex to follow, especially considering that Joss Whedon’s already established that the Phase 2 arc will follow that of the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, indicated by the cameo by Thanos at the end of The Avengers. That’s complicated enough as it stands, and Ultron might make it harder to audiences to jump into Phase 2.
First Appearance: The Avengers #57 (1968)
Owned By: Marvel, Disney
Previously seen in: N/A.
Cartoon appearance in: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
A highly advanced synthetic android created by Ultron to face off against Ant Man and the Avengers. When the Avengers overcame the threat, the android was reprogrammed, and has fought alongside the team since. Vision was a valuable asset to the Avengers, as he was considered human other than his body’s origin, and his powers had a wide range of versatility, from changing his body density to emitting microwave radiation, all stemming from a solar powered jewel.
Also owned by Marvel and Disney, fans have been clamoring for the character to appear in the films since Avengers’ release last summer. There were even rumors floating around of Vin Diesel playing him. However, unless the character origin was completely redesigned, Vision would not be able to exist without an Ultron plot in place first.
X-Men, Wolverine… and Deadpool
First Appearance: X-Men #1 (1963), Incredible Hulk #181 (1974), New Mutants #98 (1991)
Owned By: 20th Century Fox
Previously seen in: X-Men (2000), X-2: X-Men United (2003), X-3: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men First Class (2011).
COMING SOON: The Wolverine (July 2013), X-Men Days of Futures Past (2014)
Superhero movies were getting a bad rap after Batman & Robin came out in 1998, and suddenly, X-Men blasted onto the screen in spring of 2000, boasting a uniquely edgy and mature atmosphere for superhero films at the time. If Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 was the rebirth of the superhero movie since Superman, then X-Men was Marvel’s equivalent. With such a huge variety of potential characters, X-Men was the most prominent of Marvel characters in film other than Spider-Man; at least until Iron Man arrived in 2008. And, at this point, X-Men still have the most movies in a franchise out of all Marvel films.
The problem here is that there are so many random characters that they can use in these films, that many of them are lazily injected into a film simply so Fox can keep the character in the X-Men package. Origins: Wolverine was certainly the most guilty of this cheap tactic. If you think about it, Deadpool wasn’t technically a character in that film. Ryan Reynolds was fun in the first few minutes as the “Merc with a Mouth,” but that odd creature with no mouth at the end of the film looked more like Barraka from Mortal Kombat than anything close to Deadpool. I could go on all week about that, but then this would just turn into a psychotic, chimichanga throwing, fourth wall breaking bonanza.
What I’m more curious about, though, is when Marvel finally does get the rights to the X-Men roster back into safe-keeping, will Hugh Jackman still be interested in playing Wolverine, or will he simply be too old by that point? And if that were to be the case, could he be replaced? Especially considering he’s even more synonymous with the character than Robert Downey Jr. is as Tony Stark. Of course, that’s looking almost too far into the future…
Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver
First Appearance: X-Men #4
Owned By: Marvel, Disney
Previously seen in: N/A (though Quicksilver had a 1 second cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, that was fun)
The twin children of the X-Men nemesis, Magneto. The Scarlet Witch, Wanda, has a mutation that allows her to bend reality with what is refereed to as “Chaos Magic,” where her brother, Pietro, Aka, Quicksilver, has the mutant ability is to think and move at the speed of sound.
This is a weird one, because these two characters are held as potential characters in the Marvel CU, yet their father (Magneto), and by extension, the Brotherhood of Mutants, could never be mentioned or acknowledged in a film if they were to appear in the near future.
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
Owned By: Sony Entertainment
Previously Seen in: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
COMING SOON: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Lets get this one cleared up. Everyone in the world knows who Spider-Man is. Everyone loves Spider-Man. When rumors were floating around last winter that he might have had a cameo in The Avengers, even I desperately wanted to believe it. The fact of the matter is, as long as Spider-Man, as a film franchise, is made entirely by Sony Entertainment, neither he, or any other characters in the Spider-Man films, could even be in a parallel reality in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is a huge shame.
What would need to happen is if Amazing Spider-Man 2 was so awful that nobody would even go to see it in the theater. It would literally need to not earn more money than it cost to make in order to make Sony have to give Spidey back to Marvel Studios. Either that, or some kind of contractual joint deal between Sony and Disney was made. If that day were to come, the world would rejoice infinitely. (yaaayyy)
That being said, if Spider-Man were to be offered a part time job with the Avengers, would Andrew Garfield be willing to do it? My guess is yes, because… well, if he didn’t, he’d be really dumb, but that’s my two cents.
In the meantime, Spidey will be duking it out with Electro and Rhino and god knows who else in the reboot sequel next summer.
The Rogues Gallery and Miscellaneous entities of the Marvel Universe
Owned By: Fox and Sony
These are all the random, small characters and such that, because of the character rights being packaged together, couldn’t even be given a nod in Phase 2 films or Avengers 2. This includes literally any villain from Lizard, to Venom and Doctor Octopus to Silver Surfer and Magneto… even J. Jonah Jameson. But this also includes other names and organizations in the lore as well. Tony Stark would never be able to set foot in the Daily Bugle because it’s in Sony’s Spider-Man movies. Nobody could use Adamantium metal because it’s mentioned in respects to Wolverine in Fox’s X-Men movies. This is already a relevant issue in Marvel’s Phase 2.
If you notice in the Iron Man 3 trailers, War Machine has a new paint job, and is now going by the title Iron Patriot. Believe it not, this is actually in Marvel Comics, in the Dark Reign arc a few years ago, in which the Avengers are disbanded, and a new team, The Dark Avengers are established, led by The Iron Patriot. However, the pilot of the armor is not James Rhodes, but, in fact, Norman Osborn. Yes, that Norman Osborn. Like the Green Goblin Norman Osborn. Because Norman and Oscorp are character officially in the Spider-Man lore, Marvel Studios can’t use that name, so the Iron Patriot was used in this compromise for Iron Man 3.
It will be interesting to see the ways in which Marvel Studios find loophole to make these characters and concepts work in their established movie universe that limits them from using some of their most infamous characters.
I know, it’s disappointing to realize Wolverine and Spidey can’t be in The Avengers quite yet. But, if you make sure you come by next week, I’ll show you why you should get excited about so many other characters that we COULD, and in some cases, WILL see in Phase 2, and possibly Avengers 2.
Until Next Time, True Believers.