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12 Marvel Heroes That Can Never Appear in the MCU

12 Marvel Heroes That Can Never Appear in the MCU


Matt Singer

Matt SingerPublished: July 6, 2022Marvel

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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.



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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.)


Some of Marvel’s most popular comics can never be adapted to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mostly because of issues with copyrights.1. Conan the Barbarian


1. Conan the Barbarian

When Marvel introduced a comic book version of Conan the Barbarian in 1970, it soon became one of the company’s hottest titles. Marvel’s Conan, based on the Robert E. Howard pulp hero, spawned multiple spinoffs and ran for 275 issues, making it one of the longest-running Marvel comics in history. But Marvel never owned Conan; they licensed the character from the company that controls Howard’s creations.

The rights then went from Marvel to Dark Horse, and then to other companies, before they returned to Marvel in 2018, at which point Marvel relaunched several of their old Conan books and added him to the Avengers in a book titled Savage Avengers. But the rights to Conan are already moving again, this time to Titan Books. So while Conan has spent decades in the Marvel Universe, and met the likes of Wolverine and the Punisher, the chances of a Conan Marvel movie or show are essentially zero — at least as long as someone other than Marvel holds the rights to the barbarian hero.2. Red Sonja

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