Despite having recently reacquired the movie rights to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, the MCU still does not have the full screen rights to all of the characters in Marvel Comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t missed a beat with its incomplete roster, bringing in nearly $14 billion at the box office across 17 films over the last decade. With Infinity War on the horizon, as well as all the new characters that will soon be joining the shared universe thanks to Disney’s deal with Fox, the future of Marvel’s shared universe is looking bright.
Things weren’t always running so smoothly over at Marvel, of course. In the mid-’90s, the publisher was on the verge of bankruptcy, and selling off characters’ exclusive movie rights to various studios proved to be a quick way to inch them out of the red. Most character rights have eventually reverted back to the House of Ideas, though some familiar faces remain outside the reach of Marvel Studios. For now, anyway.
Disney’s (not yet complete) deal with Fox means that the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will be joining the MCU sometime in the next few years. Assuming that deal goes through, Marvel will once again own those characters’ full screen rights, adding to their library of over 7,000 characters. But although that acquisition was widely believed to be the last big domino to fall, Marvel still doesn’t have complete control over its full comic roster. Here are the Characters Marvel Still Doesn’t Have The Movie Rights To.
Easy, folks: we’re well aware that Mark Ruffalo has played the Hulk on numerous occasions in the MCU. If you count the Bruce Banner cameo in Iron Man 3, Ruffalo has portrayed the character four times now, and his upcoming roles in Infinity War and Avengers 4 will make six. But as you may or may not know, because of a complicated distribution deal to Universal, Marvel can’t really make another Hulk solo movie, thus landing the Jade Giant on our list.
There’s always a chance that Disney can come to some sort of mutually beneficial distribution agreement with Universal, or that they manage to reacquire the full screen rights to the Hulk. According to Ruffalo, however, Universal hasn’t been willing to play ball. So for the time being, it looks like Bruce Banner will be relegated to losing control and turning into an enormous green rage monster in team-up films only.
The Hulk’s complex rights issues extend to many of his most notable adversaries and supporting characters, though there’s one in particular that fans have been hoping to see in live-action for years…
She-Hulk’s movie rights are exclusively tied to those of her comic book cousin, Bruce Banner, so she too is hung up under the Universal banner for the time being. She ranks as one of the most well-rounded heroes in Marvel Comics, and she’s more than deserving of a shot at her first big screen appearance. Jennifer Walters pulls double duty as both a full-time lawyer and a traditional superhero, and because she retains her intelligence and personality while in her green form, She-Hulk is often more effective at the whole saving the day thing than her rage-fueled cousin.
Having spent time as a member of pretty much every Marvel superteam around (including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and the Heroes for Hire) there’s no shortage of places she could pop up within the MCU — if Marvel ever manages to strike a deal with Universal, that is.
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