There are literally hundreds of amazing characters in the Marvel Universe, and you probably know that their rights are all split up between different major studios. In some ways this is probably a good thing, it means we get more movies than if just one studio was doing all of them. Cap 2, [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073), Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-Men DOFP all came out this year, and it's hard to imagine four movies coming out of one studio inside the same extended universe in a single year. This would be over kill, and some would argue that even the two a year Marvel is already doing is over kill. Even WB with DC characters has only been doing one every other year.
Back in the 90s Marvel was about to go bankrupt because comic sales were at an all time low, and because of the recent flops with Superman IV in 1987, and both Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, in 1995 and 1997 respectively, the belief was that superhero films were risky at best. Well one flop would have ruined Marvel so instead they leased out the film rights to several characters including X-Men and Fantastic Four to Fox, and Spider-Man to Sony. Daredevil and Elektra were shortly at Fox as well, but due to the bad response of those films the rights fell back to Marvel because part of the legal agreement was movies had to be made every so many years or the character rights automatically fall back to Marvel Studios. This is the reason that the Spider-Man franchise was re-booted, Sony knew it has the potential to be a big money maker and didn't want to lose those millions. Same thing with the upcoming Fantastic Four film, they're rebooting it so they don't lose the rights.
With our beloved characters rights spread out over three major studios things like Wolverine joining the Avengers, or Spider-Man teaming up with the Human Torch will probably never be seen like they were portrayed in the comics. This is my list of character teamups, and crossover story lines that, unfortunately, we'll most likely never see on the big screen.
1. Secret Wars
The original Marvel crossover back in 1984 is a confusing one that wouldn't translate well to the big screen, and wouldn't really make a good comic nowadays, back in it's day it was cool, unique and fun but now it would seem forced and just a money-grabbing way to throw every character into one story.
In the comic a cosmic entity called the Beyonder is fascinated by the potential of the human race, and he hand picks dozens of heroes and villains, bringing them to a planet called Battle World as he declares "I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!"
Heroes taken included: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, She-Hulk, Wasp, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Thing, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Xavier, Cyclops, Colossus, Rogue, Storm and Nightcrawler. Villains taken included: Absorbing Man, Dr. Octopus, Enchantress, the entire Wrecking Crew, Dr. Doom, Lizard, Kang the Conqueror, Klaw, and Ultron.
In the beginning the heroes and villains have several skirmishes, with the X-Men deciding to stick to themselves and not directly work with the Avengers or Fantastic Four. Obviously none of these characters permanently were killed, but the story had a few lasting consequences. Dr. Doom found a way to temporarily steal the Beyonder's powers and attempted to take over the universe. The Thing didn't return to Earth with the other heroes, but instead explored the galaxy which left She-Hulk to take his place as the muscle of the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man uses the black suit for the first time, unaware it's actually the alien Venom.
Obviously all of these characters' rights are so spread out over Fox, Sony and Marvel that they will likely never appear in a huge movie in our lifetimes, and without the crossover it's unlikely that this story would even be used in a future Avengers movie because it's just a forced way to throw every character into a story.
2. Old Man Logan
In an alternate future, the world has been split between all the super villains who once unified together to destroy all heroes. The X-Men were taken out by one person: Wolverine. A Spider-Man villain, named Mysterio, created an illusion of dozens of villains attacking the Institute and Wolverine alone slaughtered them all, but when the illusion was dropped he had actually killed all his teammates. In the back right corner of the image below you can see Wolverine holding onto Jubilee's body, horrified to see the X-Men dead around him.
In this future Wolverine is in hiding but living a happy life with a wife and kids, but when that family is killed and eaten by Hulk and She-Hulk's incestuous children. Wolverine and a much older and blind Hawkeye go on a mission to kill the Hulk, and Red Skull who has become the President of what used to be the United States. The story also includes cameos from Emma Frost, Black Bolt, Dr. Doom, and a T-Rex who has become connected with the Venom symbiote.
There are several reasons we won't see this ever see this story play out in the movies.
Again, all the characters are all split up over different studios rights, but Fox could probably still do something similar to the story with just the mutant characters. They could take out Mysterio and bring in a telepath to create the illusion of an attack on the mansion and still have Wolverine kill all the X-Men. They'd have to leave out the Hawkeye as a side-kick, but they could use another mutant character. Red Skull and the Hulk stuff too could be replaced with Magneto and Juggernaut or some other villains, but the story itself could still work with tweaks, BUT as much as I loved the miniseries, I hope they NEVER do this story as an X-Men film. With the recent changes in their time line, thanks to time-travelling Wolverine, we see the X-Men's happy future; Wolverine was responsible for saving not only Jean and Scott from their horrible deaths, but all of mutant kind and the world. This was a happy future, and a good win for Wolverine!
After X-Men: Apocalypse we are getting a third solo Wolverine film, and one theory is that we'll get to see Old Man Logan played out set after the end scenes we saw in the future in DOFP. I really hope we don't take that happy future away from the X-Men, or from Wolverine. Not that all those characters need to live forever, but to go back to that future right away just to kill all the X-Men at Wolverine's hand would be a seriously dark and depressing story and totally kills the emotional moment we had at the end of DOFP when Wolverine sees Jean from across the room. There wouldn't be any light in the franchise anymore because we'd know that any stories in the past timeline with McAvoy and Fassbender eventually lead to all of their deaths at the hands of our hero Wolverine. We can't rely on time travel to undo a dark future AGAI so no, I hope we don't take that wonderful happy scene from [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942) where Wolverine actually has a win, only to have him end up killing them all anyway.
I hope that Wolverine 3 take place in that future, and we see a future where Wolverine has outlived all the "original" X-Men and he's the Headmaster at Xavier's, like he has been in the comics for the past little while up until his recent death, but I really don't think we'll ever see this dark and depressing future from the comics.
3. House of M
Take a look at that image for just a second, you'll see Xavier in the middle, plus X-Men and Avengers all mixed together on both sides. You can tell how huge this story is by how many of the A-List characters are included. This is one of my favorite Marvel stories, and it was incredibly huge and forever changed the Marvel Universe.
The story takes place shortly after the Avengers are disassembled due to the acts of the Scarlet Witch where she, unknowingly, turned on her teammates because of her instability, and even killed several of them (including Hawkeye, Scott Lang's Ant-Man, and her husband Vision). At the beginning of the mini-series we see that Magneto has taken his sick daughter far away to Genosha, and Xavier has been trying to fix the Witch's mind, but he's failed. He believes the course of action is to kill her before she causes more damage, and he meets with the Avengers (both old and new) and the X-Men to discuss the situation and their options. At the same time Quicksilver is begging Magneto to not let them kill his sister, but the Witch agrees that she is too dangerous so Quicksilver convinces her to use her power to alter the entire world making mutants the majority, making their father ruler of the world, and giving all of their friends, the X-Men and Avengers, everything they most desired so that they would be content in their new lives, also taking away memories of their "real" lives. For example Wolverine's memories pre-Weapon X have been restored, Cyclops and Emma are married, Cap was never frozen in ice so he was able to grow into an old man and live his life, Magneto is ruler of the world with his three children (Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Polaris) as a royal family, Spider-Man never lost Uncle Ben, or Gwen Stacy and they have a happy life together with a son.
The story follows Wolverine as he realizes something is wrong and he assembles the heroes, with the help of a new mutant Layla and her psychic ability to restore the original memories. Now with both sets of memories in the heroes' heads, as if they have lived dual lives these characters band together to destroy Magneto, who they believe to be responsible.
Imagine poor Spider-Man coming to grips that his life with Gwen Stacy and their baby wasn't "real".
Which leads to this chilling scene with the usual chipper Parker telling Wolverine about his memories on top of memories and these dual lives he remembers; and that when they reach Magneto that he's going to kill him and his children.
Pretty dark stuff. The series continues as Wolverine, the X-Men and Avengers form two teams, one to go in and confront Magneto, and the other to sneak into Genosha and find Xavier. Turns out Xavier is dead, and in the confrontation with Magneto his memories are unlocked and he reacts by nearly killing Quicksilver, only to be stopped by the Scarlet Witch.
The Witch retaliates believing that she is still not in the wrong because she gave all of the heroes the lives they wished for. She's tired of her father, of his belief that mutants are superior.
Emma Frost and Dr. Strange do what they can to stop the damage, but the Witch moves quickly and re-creates their world back to the way it was but leaves nearly all the world's mutants without their powers. Several of the X-Men are de-powered; including: Polaris, Quicksilver, Xavier, Magneto, Iceman (briefly), Blob, and millions of others leaving the mutants an endangered species with less than 300 left on the planet.
The Avengers weren't directly related to the events of what is called M-Day, as most of them are super powered humans, not mutants, however most of them still retain their dual memories of the House of M reality, including Peter Parker who remembers his much happier and perfect life with Gwen Stacy. His life over there was much happier because that's what it was designed by the Scarlet Witch to be, and those memories haunt him for a long time.
The affects of M-Day and the House of M last for a long time in the Marvel Universe as the mutant population not only has dwindled, but it seems that mutants are no longer being born, that mutant gene has been removed from existence with the few exceptions that Strange and Frost were able to preserve. With so few of their species left the X-Men open the doors to the school to allow any and all mutants sanctuary. Old foes join the X-Men mostly out of fear because both anti-mutant government and religious purifiers are killing all remaining mutants, hoping that they'll become extinct. This lasts for several years until the X-Men story line Messiah Complex where Cerebro detects the birth of a mutant baby powerful enough that the entire city it's in is destroyed.
Basically the House of M affects all the future X-Men story lines. Sure they could exchange a few characters here and there, leave out the Avengers and alter a few details and they could form a House of M story that was similar, but different but I really do doubt it as it's a complicated enough story to do even with the Avengers, AND we already saw the world be made and re-made in DOFP, it may be over kill to do something so similar again.
4. Avengers vs. X-Men
The birth of the first mutant child, Hope, since the House of M spins the X-Men into several other stories with impactful events including the return of the Phoenix. Iron Man believes he can destroy the powerful cosmic force once and for all, but the X-Men believe that it's joining with the now teenage Hope (who went into the future with Cable, and came back once she was 16) will somehow bring mutants back to the numbers that they had before M-Day, and help mutants take their rightful place as the next step in evolution. Instead of destroying the Phoenix, however, Stark splinters it into hosting five of the X-Men: Cyclops, Namor, Colossus, Magik, and Emma Frost.
The Phoenix Five attempt to re-shape the world, and temporarily succeed, providing free energy and food to the world's population, as well as stopping conflict in warring parts of the world. Despite their good intentions the world calls on the Avengers to stop the Phoenix Five because they're so powerful that they're going unchecked, they extract Hope from Utopia and with her and Scarlet Witch they believe they can take out the Phoenix for good. Cyclops realizes that by taking out the other four hosts the Phoenix will divide power between the remaining hosts, and he becomes the sole host. This also causes the rest of the X-Men to see him for what he's become and turn against him. In the final battle Cyclops takes the final part of the Phoenix from Emma by attacking her, and becomes Dark Phoenix. He then kills Xavier who was attacking him telepathically. When Hope and the Scarlet Witch finally do take him down they combine their powers and seem to have eliminated the Phoenix once and for all, also restoring the mutant gene once again.
Many things happen in the aftermath. Magneto and Namor go on the run, Frost and Cyclops are arrested but later rescued by Magneto. Wolverine re-opens the Institute that was destroyed the year before renaming in the Jean Grey Institute, but the biggest repercussion is that Iron Man and Cap see that they should have reached out to help the mutant population long ago. They start a new Avengers campaign to help with mutant's public relation bringing several prominent X-Men into the various Avengers teams including: Havok, Cannonball, and Rogue.
5. Civil War
Now I know we're getting a Civil War story line in the Cinematic Universe in Captain America 3 slated for 2016, but it can't and won't be on the same scale as the comic story line, partly because so many of the heroes in the story (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) aren't available for Marvel to use in their cinematic universe.
In the actual comic story line the teenage superhero team called the New Warriors are en route to fight some super villains to film an episode of their reality show. However the villains are much too powerful and in the fight the villain Nitro detonates himself unleashing an enormous amount of energy which destroys several city blocks, including a residential community and an elementary school. Over 600 civilians are killed along with the New Warriors. The public outcry that superheroes need to be better monitored is finally taken seriously and a law outlawing secret identities is passed stating that each hero must register with the government, and become a trained superhero police force.
The superhero community is split down the middle, and even the idea of a strike goes around but in the end Captain America tells Maria Hill (who's in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the time) that he refuses to give up the tradition of secret identities, and he refuses to enforce a law which makes criminals out of heroes. Hill attempts to take him into custody but he escapes, creating an icon and leader for all heroes who wish to defy the law.
The government asks Iron Man to head up bringing in the anti-registration heroes, and his team includes: Spider-Man, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Ant-Man, Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Wonderman, Wasp, Black Widow, Maria Hill, War-Machine, Stature, She-Hulk and many more.
On Cap's side with the anti-registration: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Cloak, Dagger, Patriot, Hulkling, Wiccan, Hercules, Goliath, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Punisher, Iron Fist, Dr. Strange and more.
In the middle of the mini-series Spider-Man shows his identity to the entire world on live television in support of the registration act. Even though this isn't necessary as the government will hold onto all information regarding secret identities he does it to show faith in the law and government hoping to bring more heroes to the pro-registration. However he soon changes sides when he and his family are attacked at home and he sees Stark pardon several villains if they'll fight along side him and the pro-registers, and Stark has cloned Thor and forced the clone to fight. He leaves and sides with Cap along with Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and also Storm and Black Panther who had remained neutral like the X-Men up to that point.
By the end of the Civil War Captain America had surrendered realizing that the American people wanted and needed the law to be passed, and that he should be serving the American people and giving them what they want.
As a pardon is given to the majority of those who fought against the government Cap is arrested but assassinated on the courtroom steps before he can stand trial.
The What If? Civil War ending was pretty awesome. It had Cap and Stark sitting to talk before their final fight, and hashing out their differences. The final decision was that Cap would be in charge of protecting all secret identities and that the government wouldn't have a hand in it at all. The decision was well received by both groups of heroes, but was kind of anti-climatic, but it does seem like the best solution to the problem.
Even though we're getting a Civil War story, it seems like it's going to be much different than the comic story, it'll be much less about secret identities and more about being a government employee and representing a new Superhero police force, as well as having much fewer characters than it's large comic counterpart, after all it's also a Captain America movie, not an Avengers movie so we can't expect every hero to show up and take sides (I wrote a story about who would take each side if they appear HERE.) It's more likely that Stark will appear with Maria Hill and one or two others, and Cap will appear with Falcon, Winter Soldier, hopefully Black Widow and maybe a couple others, with Black Panther confirmed to be appearing he could be on either side of the fight, but most likely will be hosting Cap and his heroes in Wakanda which (like in the comics) remained neutral to the registration law.
I'm still working on being excited for Captain America: Civil War, I don't want Cap's movie to turn into an Avengers movie with too many characters. Cap 2 was absolutely amazing.; and it was awesome without Stark, whom I'm worried will be turned into a villain. I'm also worried he'll become too much of the movie, and there will be too many characters. I'm sure the movie will be epic, but with those concerns on the table only time will tell what happens.
So there's my list of FIVE stories we'll never see done on the big screen. It's unfortunate that Marvel doesn't have rights to all of their characters, but in the end we're receiving so many superhero movies do we really need all of them to be inside of the same Cinematic Universe?