The Marvel Cinematic Universe is already bigger than any reasonable Marvel fan could have ever imagined it would get just a decade ago. Obscure Marvel heroes like Shang-Chi and the Guardians of the Galaxy have gotten their own movies; even less-known characters have shown up in other films and TV shows. Be honest: Did you ever think you might see a live-action version of Black Knight? Of Man-Ape? Of Taserface?!? Of course not! It’s gotten to the point where it sometimes seems like any Marvel character could show up in anything at any time.
But that’s not quite true. Yes, Marvel is forever digging deeper and deeper into its history to introduce interesting new characters to the MCU. But there are some corners of Marvel’s history that literally cannot make the jump to the screen. That’s because while Marvel controls the vast majority of its library, a couple of their books feature characters or concepts licensed from existing intellectual properties.
Most of Marvel’s licensed comics are set in their own separate storylines and universes. In the early 1980s, for example, Marvel published nearly three years worth of comics featuring Indiana Jones. During the entire series, Indy was off doing Indy things; he never bumped into a young Magneto or discovered evidence of the Eternals in ancient artifacts (although that would have been kind of cool, come to think of it). When the book ended, it didn’t create any lingering holes in Marvel continuity.
But then there are other series, particularly in the company’s early days, where licensed characters did enter the main Marvel Universe, sometimes for years. A couple of these comics rank among Marvel’s longest-running and best-selling titles ever. But despite their popularity, they can never wind up as MCU movies or shows — at least not until Marvel makes a new deal with the current rights holders. Here are 12 notable examples.
(brb, I’m off to write my Indiana Jones and young Magneto fan fiction.)
Marvel Comics That Can’t Appear in the MCU
Some of Marvel’s most popular comics can never be adapted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly because of issues with copyrights.