The Battle For Quicksilver: 7 More Heroes With Complicated Film Rights

by Brett White

Fans have been waiting for something like the Battle for Quicksilver to happen, ever since it was made clear that the film rights for the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man would not be returning to Marvel Studios anytime soon. Now it seems likely that two versions of the same superhero will be appearing in different franchises, with one or both films not able to fully depict the character as he is in the comics.

At this point it’d help to have a checklist of exactly which studios own what characters, because it’s pretty confusing the way it stands right now. Fox owns the X-Men and Fantastic Four, but mutants can apparently appear in Marvel Studios films as long as they’re not called mutants (and possibly not called by their code names). Sony owns Spider-Man, and he’s not moving studios, not ever. That means we’ll never see Norman Osborn clash with the Avengers in a Marvel Studios film. Galactus and Silver Surfer, two essential characters for Marvel Studios considering they’re going cosmic, are owned by Fox as part of the Fantastic Four deal. But that ownership doesn’t extend to the Inhumans, who are Fantastic Four characters that Marvel Studios is boldly talking about turning into a film.

It’s all really confusing.

And as Marvel movies continue to make big bucks, more characters are going to get introduced. Here are seven more characters that could result in Quicksilver-level confusion, with assumed studio ownership marked throughout.

Cloak and Dagger
Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson were teenage runaways who befriended each other on the streets of New York City. They were both abducted and subjected to drug tests by a criminal chemist, which they survived and gained powers from. So what’s the catch? It was later revealed that the drug merely awakened their latent mutant powers (Fox), thus making the duo mutants at a time when mutant comics sold like crazy. Whether or not the pair are actually mutants remains a topic of debate in serious comic book circles, but the two fall into a camp similar to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch as mutant characters who’ve never really been X-Men. They’ve just been Marvel superheroes (Marvel). They were members of Norman Osborn’s (Sony) Dark X-Men (Fox) for a brief time, which presents a legal nightmare where the film rights are concerned.

Justice and Firestar
Just like Cloak and Dagger, Vance Astrovik (Justice) and Angelica Jones (Firestar) are mutants (Fox) who have always operated outside of the X-Men (Marvel). The couple were both members of the New Warriors in the early ’90s and later joined the Avengers (Marvel) together during Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s beloved run. Astrovik is a curious case because in addition to being an Avenger, a future version of himself was also a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel). And Firestar was originally created as part of the “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” cartoon show (Sony?) but was introduced into the comics as a supporting character in X-Men (Fox).

This one should be obvious, as Beast was an original X-Man and is preparing to star in his third X-Men film (Fox). But Beast was also an Avenger (Marvel) for an extended period of time. Beast’s ownership could be called into question because of the same reasons Marvel thought it was cool to use Quicksilver, a mutant character who has been a member of his fair share of X-Men teams. If Marvel can use Quicksilver without saying he’s a mutant and calling him by his real name, then maybe a human scientist named Hank McCoy could pop up as one of Bruce Banner’s old colleagues.

Namor is the oldest Marvel Comics character, debuting way back in 1939, and he’s been a mainstay pretty much ever since his return in the early ’60s. It’s shocking that he’s yet to appear on the big screen considering his historical importance and continued prominence in the comics… until you realize how wacky his film rights might be. He debuted as a Marvel character (Marvel), but returned after a decade long absence in the pages of “Fantastic Four” (Fox). He then started appearing in more Marvel comics and later joined the Avengers (Marvel), but it was eventually revealed that he was actually a mutant (Fox). This was played up for a while in the early ’90s to hopefully tie him into the X-Men’s success, but that was dropped and he went back to being a general Marvel hero (Marvel). But he spent the better part of the last five years as a full-fledged, heavy-hitting member of the X-Men (Fox), and is now starring in the comic “New Avengers” (Marvel).

Judging by her name, it would seem that Sony would own her outright. She was obviously created as a tie-in to Spider-Man, hence the name Spider-Woman. But… not so fast. She debuted in “Marvel Spotlight” #32 (Marvel), acted as a solo hero independent of any larger affiliation (Marvel), and has powers that bear next to no resemblance to Spider-Man’s (Marvel). The only things that ties her to Spider-Man are her code name and a few slight homages in her costume (Sony). But Jessica Drew also operated as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers (Marvel), so it seems like she could easily be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without using the name Spider-Woman, which is a name I’m pretty sure Sony doesn’t want any other film studio to use.

Which studios do you hope have the rights to which characters? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!