The One Character James Gunn Was Not Allowed To Use In The Guardians Of The Galaxy Movies

By Michileen Martin | 3 months ago

james gunn

Not every character who has appeared in Marvel Comics can be brought to the big screen in a Marvel Studios film, and we’re not just talking about characters whose comic book rights belong to Marvel but whose film rights belong to other studios (like Spider-Man, who only appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of a deal hammered out between Disney and Sony). Marvel has put out comics for tons of outside licensed properties, and in some cases has even had those characters interact with their own. Spider-Man hung out with the Autbots, the Avengers fought Godzilla, and Conan threw down with Wolverine. It was because of one these deals that a character named Bug — from a property owned by Hasbro — joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, and according to writer/director James Gunn, he has tried and failed three times to get him into the movies.

Bug
Bug #1 Marvel Comics 1997

We know this because of an argument that started earlier this month on Twitter. James Gunn retweeted a video clip of an interview with Chukwudi Iwuji, who is currently in Peacemaker and will be appearing in an undisclosed role in next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In response, a fan tweeted “I can totally >tik< see Chuk in the MCU Quantumverse. >tik<” and the “tik” was in reference to Bug’s speech pattern in Marvel Comics. Catching the reference — and the implication that the fan was hinting Iwuji had been cast as Bug — Gunn responded that Marvel didn’t have the film rights to Bug. An argument ensued between fans, including one who began urging Gunn to do his “research” because they were sure the director was wrong. Gunn settled the dust-up by assuring the fan that he had tried to get Bug into every single Guardians of the Galaxy film — including Guardians 3 — with no success. You can see his tweet below.

That James Gunn can’t use Bug in a Marvel Studios film isn’t much of a shocking revelation. In fact, he mentioned it at the end of December. A conversation started on Twitter after a fan practically begged Gunn to bring Rom the SpaceKnight into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Sadly, Gunn said as much as he would love to adapt Rom, he couldn’t do so in a Marvel film. The same company — Hasbro — stands in the way of either Rom or Bug being in the MCU. Both Rom and the Micronauts were originally created as toys by Hasbro, who worked out a deal with Marvel for the company to publish comics based on the toys. Bug started off as part of the Micronauts.

What is something of a revelation, however, is James Gunn’s confession that he has tried to get Bug into every single Guardians film. You would think that after being told the first time that Marvel doesn’t hold the film rights, that would settle the matter. Apparently, Gunn has felt passionately enough about the character that he just kept trying.

What may be, in part, responsible for some fans’ confusion — including the above-mentioned fan who told James Gunn to do his “research” — is that when it comes to these licensed comics, things can get murky as far as who owns what. For example, as Comic Book points out, while Hasbro created Rom, it was Marvel Comics writers and artists who created an elaborate backstory for the character including that he was from the planet Galador and that he was part of the SpaceKnights. So, if he wanted to, James Gunn could introduce Galador and the concept of the SpaceKnights in a Marvel Studios film; he just couldn’t use Rom.

Things are even more confusing with Bug because even though the Micronauts are no longer in Marvel Comics, Bug has continued to appear there. As Brian Cronin pointed out in a CBR column, while Bug was created as a part of the Micronauts comic which Hasbro licensed, he was a brand new character Hasbro hadn’t made a toy for. So, as Cronin speculated, in most likelihood Marvel still retains the rights to use Bug in their comics because they created the character, but they can’t use him in other media because he was created as part of the Micronauts, which Hasbro owns.