Licensing woes mean slim pickings for Marvel fans

marvel licensing

With the reported withdrawals of Marvel movie licenses pending an ugly battle between Marvel Studios and Fox (current owners of the X-Men and Fantastic Four licenses), fans looking forward to new games or toys with some of their favorite heroes may be forced to wait a while.

The company has become notably defensive about the use of its licenses, as noted in this article. Even Gazillion Entertainment, developers of the Steam-based MMO Marvel Heroes, fell afoul of the comic book giant after hosting a Fantastic Four-themed event in the game.

It’s been revealed that the main issue is, of course, money—and neither partner is showing any sign of budging. Many of these licensing deals date back to the mid-’90s when the comic book industry was in free-fall and Marvel itself was in die straits, leading us to our current predicament.

According to reports, Marvel initially declared bankruptcy at the end of 1996 and sold everything but the kitchen sink to keep itself above water amidst the industry’s speculation bust. It was at this time that the company established the licensing deals for characters such as Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man to 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures to keep the doors open and the lights on. As a result, the company no longer has movie rights for these characters, which is why the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets weird whenever certain heroes crop up.

In 2003, after witnessing the massive success of the first crop of Marvel movies, the publisher decided that it would handle its film line itself from that point on. It established Marvel Studios that same year, using some of its remaining intellectual properties as collateral. After hitting it big with Iron Man, Marvel found itself once again profitable, and the company has been trying to claw back the characters they were forced to part with ever since.

When it comes to gaming right now, it looks as though the best option for fans looking to get their Fantastic Four or X-Men gaming fixes is here. The site offers comic book-themed variations on classic casino games, which means you’ll see everyone’s favorite Marvel heroes including the two aforementioned super-teams. Featuring both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four along with a host of other Marvel characters, the games offer fresh, new twists on casino mainstays like roulette and slots. For Fantastic Four fans, these are the only games in town, at least until Fox and Marvel and can learn to play nice.

It’s no secret that reviews for the latest Fantastic Four film were, shall we say, less than stellar. Coupled with the cancellation of the Fantastic Four comic book, this could account for some of the company’s apprehension to lavishly license out its characters to the highest bidder. Another theory could be wanting to keep its proverbial cards close to the chest with another big-budget X-Men film (X-Men: Apocalypse) due in 2016.

Here’s hoping that the two can resolve their respective differences sooner rather than later, because the only people missing out by not getting to have Spider-Man and the X-Men battle The Avengers are the fans.