After 10 years and 19 movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is more popular than ever. But some moviegoers may still not know what characters are and are not involved with it.
Is Batman an Avenger? Is Wolverine? Is Spider-Man? It can get a little confusing.
With that in mind, there’s a few things to remember in regards to who is and isn’t in the MCU.
The first is that film rights for Marvel Comics characters like the X-Men, Wolverine, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four are owned by Fox. But Disney’s – which owns Marvel – acquisition of Fox’s film studio leaves the future of those franchises up in the air until the deal is finalised.
The second thing to remember is that there are Marvel shows on Netflix, such as “Daredevil,” that are technically connected to the MCU but the shows only ever vaguely allude to MCU events.
Finally, DC Comics characters are not in the MCU because the MCU only includes Marvel characters. DC and Warner Bros. have attempted their own cinematic universe called the DC Extended Universe. The Justice League is DC’s superhero team, while the Avengers is Marvel’s.
Below is a guide to what popular comic book characters are and are not in the MCU:
Superman is not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is a DC Comics character. Created in 1938, he set the standard for modern superheroes. But in the 80 years since, he has never and will never appear in a movie featuring Marvel characters. He is currently played by Henry Cavill in the DC Extended Universe.
Batman is also not in the MCU and is also a DC Comics character. He is currently played by Ben Affleck in the DCEU. Before that, he was portrayed by Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” He has never been in a movie with the likes of Captain America or Spider-Man, and never will.
Wonder Woman: NO
Wonder Woman is a DC Comics character. She is currently played by Gal Gadot in the DCEU. Again, she has never appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or any other Marvel movies because she is not a Marvel character.
The Flash: NO
The Flash is a DC Comics character. He is played by Ezra Miller in the DCEU and Grant Gustin in the CW show “The Flash.” Other characters with their own CW shows are Supergirl and Green Arrow. They are also not in the MCU because they are DC characters.
Green Lantern: NO
Green Lantern is a DC Comics character, and therefore not in the MCU. He is not currently in the DCEU, but a “Green Lantern Corps” movie is supposedly in the works, though no details are available. A “Green Lantern” movie starring Ryan Reynolds was released in 2011 to poor reviews, and a sequel was never made.
Aquaman is a DC Comics character and is played in the DCEU by Jason Momoa. A solo movie starring Momoa and directed by James Wan comes to theatres this November, and is definitely not part of the MCU.
Captain America: YES
Captain America is for sure in the MCU. He is played by Chris Evans, who first appeared as the character in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” (the title gives it away!) and has since appeared in two sequels and three Avengers movies (the third being “Infinity War”).
Iron Man: YES
Yes, Iron Man is in the MCU and is played by Robert Downey, Jr. In fact, “Iron Man” kicked off the MCU in 2008.
Thor is in the MCU and is played by Chris Hemsworth.
The Hulk: YES
Yes, the Hulk is in the MCU, but you’re forgiven for being confused because there have been two actors who have played the Hulk in the MCU – Edward Norton in 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” and Mark Ruffalo, who replaced Norton in “The Avengers.” Ruffalo is the current Hulk and appears in “Infinity War.” Eric Bana played the character in Ang Lee’s movie in 2003, which was not part of the MCU because that’s before the MCU existed.
Spider-Man: YES (with caveats)
Here’s where things get a tad confusing: Spider-Man is indeed a Marvel Comics character, but Sony has had the film rights to Spider-Man. After “Spider-Man 3” in 2007, Sony rebooted the series with 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and recast Tobey Maguire with Andrew Garfield. A sequel was released in 2014 and Sony wanted to create its own Spider-Man cinematic universe, but that didn’t exactly go according to plan. Sony and Marvel Studios struck a collaborative deal in 2015 where Marvel could use its own version of Spider-Man in its movies, while Sony would continue to finance and distribute the films. So, now we have a Spider-Man who is in the MCU played by Tom Holland, while Sony still gets to use characters from Spider-Man comics like Venom, a character that is being played by Tom Hardy in a movie to be released in October (that is not part of the MCU).
Phew, that’s a lot. Moving on.
Daredevil: YES (sort of)
Daredevil is a Marvel Comics character and is played by Charlie Cox in a Netflix TV series that is loosely connected to the MCU movies. That and the other Marvel Netflix series – “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” and “The Defenders” – make vague references to events that happen in the MCU movies, but their involvement stops at that. Ben Affleck previously starred as the character in a 2003 movie – again, before the MCU existed.
Wolverine: NO (yet)
Wolverine is a Marvel Comics character but has not appeared in the MCU. The film rights to Wolverine and the other X-Men characters have been owned by Fox, but the Disney/Fox merger could mean that Wolverine could appear in the MCU in the future. There have been no established plans for that, though, and Disney’s acquisition of Fox is not yet finalised. Wolverine has been portrayed since 2000’s “X-Men” by Hugh Jackman. Jackman starred in his last movie as the character with last year’s “Logan.”
The X-Men: NO (yet)
The X-Men are in the same boat as Wolverine. We won’t know their fate until more details are released about Marvel and Disney’s plan for the Fox-owned characters. The character Quicksilver showed up in both the X-Men movies and the MCU movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but was played by different actors and Marvel could not use the phrase “mutant.”
Deadpool: NO (yet)
Deadpool is a Marvel Comics character whose movies are loosely connected to the X-Men universe, which means his film rights are also owned by Fox. “Deadpool 2” starring Ryan Reynolds is coming to theatres in May 18. The movies’ R-ratings could be a problem for Disney, but since the first movie was so successful, both commercially and critically, it’s hard to predict what Disney will do once the Fox deal is finalised.
The Fantastic Four: NO (yet)
The Fantastic Four are Marvel Comics characters, but the film rights have also been owned by Fox, so their fate is up in the air. With three poorly received movies since 2005 (the latest being the awful Josh Trank-directed reboot in 2015), perhaps Marvel will not want to take a chance on the characters.
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