Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 Legally Can’t Use Two Fan-Favorite Characters

By Michileen Martin | 4 weeks ago

guardians of the galaxy 3

At this point, it may seem like a shock that there are any characters left who have appeared in Marvel Comics that still couldn’t legally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Disney now owns Fox, bringing the X-Men and Fantastic Four back under Marvel’s banner, and if Marvel Studios really wanted to use one of the Spider-Man-adjacent characters owned by Sony, it’s clear a deal could be worked out. But there are two former Marvel superheroes — one who was actually a member of the eponymous team — who legally can’t appear in 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, or any other MCU film. Even though at this point both are arguably known best for their Marvel adventures, they’re owned by a toy company.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 writer/director James Gunn confirmed the two characters can’t legally show up in the MCU in a pair of tweets on Thursday. Both tweets were in response to fans. The first fan pleaded for Gunn to make his “dream come true” and bring Rom the SpaceKnight into Guardians 3. Gunn responded that he would’ve already brought Rom into the films if he was allowed, but “Marvel no longer holds the rights to Rom.” Another fan responded, asking if that meant the hero Bug — who, unlike Rom, actually was a member of the Guardians in the comics — was likewise off-limits, and Gunn confirmed that he was. You can see the tweets below.

As Comic Book notes, while Rom and Bug appeared in Marvel media for years, that was due to a licensing deal with Hasbro, who still owns the characters and would need to give permission for a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 appearance. Rom is a solo property while Bug is part of a group of heroes called the Micronauts. Both properties were initially realized as toys but when Hasbro made their licensing deal with Marvel, the publisher’s writers and artists did what they could to make the characters their own by bringing them into Marvel’s larger narrative and creating backstories for them. The Micronauts met the Fantastic Four, fought Doctor Doom and Hydra, while Rom had run-ins with the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and more.

rom hulk marvel comics
Rom and the Hulk, Incredible Hulk #296, Marvel Comics 1984

As James Gunn mentions in his tweet, while Hasbro holds the rights to Rom and the Micronauts (including Bug), certain story elements created specifically by Marvel writers and artists are still owned by Marvel. For example, it was former Marvel writer Bill Mantlo — coincidentally, one of the co-creators of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3‘s Rocket Raccoon — who established that Rom was a SpaceKnight from the planet Galador. So while Marvel can’t feature Rom in their comics or movies, they could bring Galador and its SpaceKnights (minus Rom) into the MCU.

In the meantime, according to Comic Book, it is possible Rom and the Micronauts could be brought to the big screen eventually, independent of Marvel. For a while, Hasbro was working with Paramount to get films made of the characters. So far, it’s all apparently been sequestered to Hollywood’s feared Development Limbo.