Trying to make sense of the licensing and distribution rights surrounding Marvel Comics’ stable of characters can quickly become confusing. This is because – prior to the establishment of Marvel Studios – the publisher sold off the film rights to its most popular characters. Once Marvel was in a position to produce and release movies on its own, reacquiring these rights became a problem – with rights-holders unwilling to relinquish what were now highly lucrative properties.
Fortunately for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, many of these character rights have since reverted to the studio, allowing for additional heroes and villains to be integrated into its ever-expanding franchise. Even icons like Spider-Man and the X-Men are now back in the fold, thanks to a licensing deal between Marvel and Sony, and Disney’s upcoming acquisition of Fox, respectively.
Nevertheless, Marvel still doesn’t have exclusive rights to feature all the characters it publishes in the MCU. Looking wider afield, there are also other comic book properties it does or did publish that it doesn’t have permission to adapt for the big screen – foregoing millions at the box office as a result!
For clarity’s sake, here are 15 superheroes and villains Marvel still can’t use in The MCU.