What Marvel characters does Sony own? Between Sony’s Spider-Man Universe and Peter Parker’s MCU Marvel Cinematic Universe exploits, it can be difficult to keep up with the wall-crawler’s web of film rights. Thus, the question of which studio owns Spider-Man and related characters, like Venom, Kraven and Black Cat, can become a head-scratcher.
Following the 2018 release of Venom, it was confirmed Sony owned the movie rights to about 900 Spider-Man-related characters. Of course, Sony doesn’t only control variations of the web-swinger, but also his villains, supporting players, and even some characters more closely associated with other Marvel superheroes. A legal document specifying Sony’s ownership outlined all of the Marvel characters that Sony controls, as well as how Spider-Man himself must be portrayed.
What Marvel characters does Sony own?
In 1998, long before the current superhero movie boom, Sony struck a deal with Marvel to license the film rights to Spider-Man, along with 900 related Marvel Comics characters. Under the terms of that deal, the movie rights to Spider-Man and characters like Venom, Carnage, Black Cat, Vulture, and more will stay with Sony forever, as long as the studio produces at least one Spider-Man movie every five years and nine months.
There are two other ways Marvel Studios could regain control of the Spider-Man movie rights: Disney could buy Sony, essentially rendering the deal useless, or Sony could sell the rights back to Marvel. But considering that 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the highest-grossing movie in Sony’s history and the company continues to make jaw-dropping amounts of money from its “Venom” movies, it is increasingly unlikely that they would decide to willingly sell those rights back to Marvel.
Does Sony Own Other Marvel Characters Besides Spider-Man?
The list of Sony-owned Marvel characters is exhaustive, with several big-time Spider-Man names showing up. These include former Spider-Woman Julia Carpenter, aka Arachne, Black Cat, Fancy Dan of The Enforcers, several Green Goblins and Silvermane. Beyond these, there are incredibly obscure deep cuts like Spellcheck, Tara and the Children of the Comet, Conchita Hernandez and Blitzgeist 2099. Of course, considering Sony has produced two Venom movies, it’s obvious who owns the symbiote antihero.
Most of these characters were created by the time Marvel sold the Spider-Man movie rights in the 1990s, but others are more recent. Knull, the symbiote god and the King in Black, would likely be owned by Sony due to his Venom associations. Due to Kingpin’s presence in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it seems Sony still has the rights to Wilson Fisk as well as his son, the merciless Blood Rose.
What Should Sony Do With the Marvel Characters It Owns?
Making a functioning universe with Sony’s immense stable of Marvel characters isn’t impossible. However, it’s difficult to ignore that many of those characters got their start fighting, or interacting with, Spider-Man in some way. Despite being Marvel’s premier hero, Spider-Man arguably lacks the versatility of other franchises. The Avengers are made up of several heroes with their own mythologies and stories, while the X-Men have long since been a veritable universe unto themselves, even in the comics.
Thus, to start making good use of its 900-plus Marvel characters that the studio owns, Sony needs to anchor Spider-Man in its cinematic universe. A concrete plan of where to go with the universe would help in this regard. Sony’s first “phase” could be a face-off between the Sinister Six and Spider-Man, with phases two and three featuring adaptations of King in Black and a live-action Spider-Verse respectively.
To maintain a degree of continuity in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, each movie should try and make reference to the Wall-Crawler as well as other figures, such as Venom and Morbius. Better yet, since Sony owns Spider-Man and Venom, they could finally be united in a sequel to both Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Some of the more C- and D-list characters controlled by Sony could be used in TV shows, as well as to bolster the rogues’ galleries of characters, like Spider-Woman and the more recent Marvel hero Silk. This way, when Spider-Man himself is on-screen, he’s fighting fan-favorite foes. Of course, this involves them actually building up some critical momentum for these films, which might be the first step in making Sony’s purchase of the Spider-Man character film rights worthwhile.
Wait, But Then Why Is Spider-Man In The MCU?
In 2015, Marvel Studios was continuing to successfully build out its cinematic universe while Sony was struggling to handle the Spider-Man character properly on the big screen. The two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies, starring Andrew Garfield in the lead role, did not perform as well as Sony would have liked, and rather than risking another reboot of the character on their own, they decided to carve out a new deal with Marvel Studios.
Spider-Man would be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and share the screen with established characters like Iron Man and Captain America, and in return, Sony would retain ownership, distribution rights, and creative control.
That deal was re-upped in 2019 and only encompasses one or possibly two more movies: we know Tom Holland will be back to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in this year’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and there’s a chance he could also pop up in next year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Unless a new deal is agreed upon, his days are numbered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re about to see the beloved actor’s final bow as your friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Holland says he is interested in returning, and he could presumably be talked into suiting up as Spidey again in Sony’s separate universe of movies, perhaps facing off against Venom and/or Carnage in a film that does not fall under the umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that both “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” deal heavily with the concept of the multiverse, which could blur the narrative lines even more until either a new deal is signed or this agreement runs its course.
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