The new issue of Entertainment Weekly, which features a lengthy interview with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, is just the gift that keeps on giving for Marvel fans. Not only did it provide confirmation of the inclusion of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in The Avengers 2,official word of Zoe Saldana's casting in Guardians of the Galaxy and new concept art for Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it also includes news that certain character rights have reverted back to the studio.
Well, the print edition does, in any case. Luckily, ComicBookMovie laid its hands on an excerpt stating that, in addition to the previously reported Punisher, Blade and Daredevil rights, the studio now once again controls Ghost Rider."Whenever a character comes back to us, it's usually because because the other studios don't want to make the movies anymore -- and that usually means the [previous] movies have not been well-received," Feige tells the magazine. "They all have potential, but we're not going to say, 'We got it back -- make it!"
The reversion of Ghost Rider comes quickly -- after all, Columbia Pictures' Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was released in February 2012 -- but it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The studio scrambled to move the sequel to its 2007 film into production to prevent the character rights from reverting to Marvel, and was apparently willing to replace Nicolas Cage to meet the deadline. The stars aligned, however, with Crank duo Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine signing on to direct the actor in a follow-up that appeared destined to set the box office ablaze. Instead, Spirit of Vengeance opened to an estimated $22 million, less than half that of the first film; it went on to gross $132 million worldwide.
In March, Cage revealed he's finished playing Johnny Blaze, saying, "I’ve done what I had to do with that part. You never say never, but right now, today, I would say that I’m done.”
With the return of the Daredevil right last fall and now Ghost Rider, that leaves Marvel back in control of all of its characters except Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and X-Men (including Deadpool and Wolverine), artifacts of an era when the properties were farmed out to other studios under fairly generous terms. As long as the films are in active development within a contractually prescribed time frame, the other studios can retain the rights, essentially, forever.