DAREDEVIL Star Vincent D'Onofrio Says Kingpin Rights Are Caught Between Marvel Studios And Sony Pictures

DAREDEVIL Star Vincent D'Onofrio Says Kingpin Rights Are Caught Between Marvel Studios And Sony Pictures

Daredevil star Vincent D'Onofrio has revealed that the rights for Wilson Fisk/Kingpin are caught between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, leaving his Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man status unclear.

By JoshWilding - Jun 18, 2024 06:06 AM EST
Filed Under: Daredevil
Source: ComicBook.com

Vincent D'Onofrio first played the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, in Netflix's Daredevil. Like the show itself, he stuck around for three seasons before the series ended and later made a surprise return in Marvel Studios' Hawkeye

Weeks later, Charlie Cox showed up as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home before swinging into action as Daredevil in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Echo. Cox and D'Onofrio both appeared in the latter and Daredevil: Born Again is next to them. 

In 2022, we learned that Cox will lend his voice to Daredevil in Marvel Animation's Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Unfortunately, D'Onofrio joining him in the series seems far from guaranteed. 

"I'm going to transparently say this: You know the whole Marvel-Sony thing, right?" D'Onofrio told fans at the Fan Expo Boston 2024. "So there are characters - Marvel characters invented by Marvel, written by Marvel - that are caught in between Marvel and Sony. And so it takes a long time for them to figure out who is doing what."

"I just never really know where [Kingpin can show up]. My character is in that kind of situation, unlike Charlie's. So I don't know, it's part of the deal when it comes to playing Kingpin," the actor admitted.

It's entirely possible that like with the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, members of the X-Men and Avengers who Marvel Studios once shared with 20th Century Fox, the same is true for The Kingpin. Fox may have even had the rights to use Fisk because he appeared in 2003's Daredevil movie where the late Michael Clarke Duncan played him.

Interestingly, the villain hasn't appeared in animation since 2003's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series on MTV. Further complicating matters is that Disney holds the Spider-Man TV rights (at least in animation), explaining why the House of Mouse produced Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man in place of Sony. 

Honestly, it's headache-inducing, but chances are Sony could use its own version of The Kingpin on the big screen should they choose to do so. Making that less likely is the fact they and Marvel Studios currently share Tom Holland's Spider-Man. 

Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was originally announced as what appeared to be a prequel to Peter Parker's MCU-set adventures. Since then, we've learned it will take place in a new reality where Norman Osborn becomes Spidey's mentor in place of Iron Man. 

You can watch Cox and D'Onofrio's full panel appearance in the player below.

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harryba11zack - 6/18/2024, 6:43 AM
who even needs him any more now that we've got The Queenpin?
OptimusCrime - 6/18/2024, 6:45 AM
Oh God no...

Please Feige, write Kingpin a way so Sony cant use him. Make him the MCU'S street-level Thanos so Sony cant use him properly.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 7:01 AM
Sony having the majority rights for Kingpin does not impact Disney using him in an animated series.

There are clauses in the contract, primarily the rights to him were bundled in with Spider-man along with characters like Norman Osborn which with the Green Goblin means Disney can't use him, or Oscorp, at all for live action outside of the projects they are working with Sony on, as in Spider-man films unless a side deal is made.

The clauses with Fisk are that Sony cannot prevent or restrict his use in specific instances such as heavily Echo or Daredevil related, but Kingpin can't turn up in just any show or film unless it is an exception like it being DD or Echo related (there is some less clear grey area stuff with characters he interacted with prior to the Sony deal but those would need additional negotiations).

However the entire Sony rights to Spider-man has one BIG exception clause, Marvel retained FULL rights to episodic animated Spider-man (upto 30mins per episode). As such Sony cannot prevent Disney or have any input on Disney making Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and as it was Marvel, not Sony, who hired Vincent for the Netflix DD show and now the MCU Echo and DD shows Sony wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on to prevent them having D'Onofrio voice the character for the animated series.

The actor may be aware of the legal issues to a degree without knowing for sure the specifics, he has fair reason in multiple ways to be unsure where he will be called upon for live action or voice only acting but if they don't use him for the series it is nothing to do with legal issues with Sony.
ObserverIO - 6/18/2024, 7:34 AM
@Apophis71 - It just makes the Sony-less MCU feel too restrained. They can't use any Spider-Man materials (other than Kingpin) in anything without Sony's say so. So they usually don't. We've had no Daily Bugle, none of the Spidey gangsters that would have been great nods to the comic like Hammerhead, no Crime Master, no Foswell, no Enforcers, no Silvermane, etc. etc. No Spider-Man villains at all.

Fans will speculate on certain Sony-owned characters popping up in Disney MCU stuff all the time, but unless it's animated or specifically and Avengers or Spider-Man film then it's not gonna happen. Sony only let Marvel use Spidey for a limited amount of projects and Marvel has to fight tooth and nail for them, so it's likely only gonna be the big movies like Avengers or Secret Wars.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 8:10 AM
@ObserverIO - Yup, and it sux
CerealKiller1 - 6/18/2024, 7:13 AM
But aren’t Marvel/Disney in charge of the animation rights? Why would this be an issue now? And why just animation? He was able to be in Daredevil (both the show and the Affleck movie, neither of which were made by Sony), so this just seems like a weird sudden thing. Maybe Vinnie D just has his wires crossed?
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 7:24 AM
@CerealKiller1 - See above, the dude has legit reasons beyond the norm to be unsure where and when his character will turn up and if he would be needed for it but nothing in the Sony rights would prevent Disney having Kingpin appear and be voice by Vinnie D in an episodic Spider-man show (as long as duration is under 30mins sans credits for each episode)
ObserverIO - 6/18/2024, 7:38 AM
@CerealKiller1 - Disney have the rights to use Kingpin as much a they want. They don't need Sony's permission for that.

But what Vin is saying here is that Sony also have the rights to use Kingpin whenever and wherever they want. So he could show up in one of those crappy Sony movies also.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 8:15 AM
@ObserverIO - Actualy, no they don't, Kingpin is a Spider-man character first and foremost so Sony owns majority rights, but due to how much he also became part of Daredevil comics there is an explicit exception for that Marvel was able to secure when selling all rights to all things Spidey related (and slightly less clear ones in relation to other IP's he is majorly connected to).

Hence why the first Into the Spider-Verse the big bad was Kingpin without needing to negotiate over that with Disney/Marvel but also why the revolved Hawkeye around Echo's origin story to bolster their exception clauses to the max thus preventing a legal issue with Sony.

The entire legal documents were leaked online after one of the majoy hacks of Sony.
CerealKiller1 - 6/18/2024, 8:32 AM
@ObserverIO - You’re absolutely right, re-reading the article makes it clear he’s just saying he personally doesn’t know when and where he’ll next show up, my bad
ObserverIO - 6/18/2024, 9:18 AM
@Apophis71 - So are you saying that Disney only get to use Kingpin if it's Daredevil related and that's why they needed Echo in Hawkeye?
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 9:42 AM
@ObserverIO - Basicaly, yeh, that is the one clear exception in the legal documents related to Kingpin, as in all things directly related to Daredevil comics (hence also Echo) which ofcourse for a time some rights to were sold to Fox (but not all presumably and only for films considering Netflix happened before acquiring Fox).

There is a vague bit in the legal documents about characters Kingpin appeared alongside in the comics prior to a certain date but as it is far from clear use of that clause alone opens up a lot of potential for a legal case. So although a side deal wouldn't necessarily be needed using those there would be negotiations to ensure they kept within the confines of the deal and could restrict what other character could appear (hence making Hawkeye revolve around an Echo origin story from DD comics, Kate Bishop couldn't have interacted with Kingpin otherwise as created after the specified date).

Doesn't mean they CAN'T use Kingpin in a film that isn't DD, Echo or Spider-man, and certainly could likely get away with referencing him in other stuff without issue (something they couldn't do with Oscorp for instance) just very unlikely and would have to be negotiations and some input from Sony on limitations as would have a veto clause they can use.
LexScarstone - 6/18/2024, 7:14 AM
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Origame - 6/18/2024, 7:17 AM
...this doesn't make any sense. Fox was able to use him just fine when they made the daredevil movie. And marvel has been using him, both in the Netflix series and now in all these disney+ series. And in terms of the spiderman cartoon, marvel has the rights to spiderman on TV. So I really don't know wtf he's talking about.
clintthahamster - 6/18/2024, 7:42 AM
@Origame - Heeeey, we agree on something! If Sony controls the rights to Kingpin, then he wouldn't have been in Hawkeye or Echo. If Marvel controls the rights, then it shouldn't matter, since loads of MCU stars have already appeared in Sony-produced Spider-Man movies.

Odds are, he's just doing a poor job of articulating the latest MCU PR hokum. He obviously can't say "Yes, I have signed on to be in Spider-Man 4," and probably doesn't want to give the old "I don't know, no one's called me, Kevin, please call me" song and dance.
eagc1995 - 6/18/2024, 12:51 PM
@Origame - If i recall in the Sony-Marvel deal that got leaked in 2014, it said that Sony wouldn't be allowed to use Kingpin until Fox hold on Daredevil expires, so once Fox lost Daredevil, Kingpin was free to appear in the Sony stuff.
Origame - 6/18/2024, 2:27 PM
@eagc1995 - I mean, kingpin appearing in Sony stuff doesnt negate the fact marvel can still freely use the character.
CreateNowSlpL8r - 6/18/2024, 7:21 AM
Haven't liked the way Marvel has used Kingpin at all. They should have just revealed him in Hawkeye, kept him in the background. Echo should have never happened all the way around. From a story telling point of view, Marvel hasn't really given me a reason to fear this guy.

He was in the Fox Daredevil movie too. Did they have to deal with Sony?
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 7:33 AM
@CreateNowSlpL8r - With the Daredevil movie, nope, no deal between Fox and Sony, there is an exception clause specific to Kingpin, Marvel retained FULL rights to Kingpin specific to DareDevils films and shows (which includes ones specific to Echo) and more grey areas rights connected to characters he had close ties to prior to the Sony getting rights.

Clint's Hawkeye fell into that grey area category but having the story revolve around Echo's origin story strengthened Disney's rights such that Sony couldn't veto his inclusion in that. Echo having her own show or film Disney would have full rights to use him and any episodic animated Marvel holds full rights to everything Spider=Man related.

Having issues with the shows he has appeared in, fair enough however, I don't agree and that is fair too :D
Spoken - 6/18/2024, 9:40 AM
@CreateNowSlpL8r @Apophis71 - FOX did have to talk to Sony.


"Believe it or not, Kingpin was on loan to Daredevil, so again, anything that is part of the Spider-Man Universe or introduced in the Spider-Man Universe–without getting too legal beagle here–is an opportunity, and if we have a story that Kingpin is important, I’m sure we can handle that.” - Avi Arad

At the time of the 90's when the rights were being thrown around, Kingpin of course is largely associated with Daredevil, but Kingpin did start as a Spider-Man villain. The 90's show adds more to that weight since he debuted in the show and had a pretty sizeable role through the seasons. So my guess, without doing more research, the rights of MOST of the Spider-Man characters were thrown into the movie rights deal that was thrown around for years. This included Kingpin. However I'm sure the rights for that are confusing, and probably doesn't matter now. It's possible even Marvel bought the character back from Sony, under the condition they may use him for a future Spider-Man movie.

But it does seem like "Yes" at the time, they did have to ask Sony.
DalekCraigWasson - 6/18/2024, 9:46 AM
@Apophis71 - The only thing I wanna add / correct is that I believe the other poster is right that Fox was "loaned" Kingpin, because I remember a bit in those leaked contracts saying Fox had a ten year loan on the character, which is why the Sony produced MTV Spider-Man series had to use the Fox Kingpin and why Spectacular Spider-Man could not use Kingpin period (hence Tombstone as The Big Man). Ten years is up and now he can be used in Sony products again, hence his appearance in Into the Spider-Verse.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 9:59 AM
@Spoken - I guessed they likely talked with them at least to be certain on the rights issues, common courtest for one thing but always wise to avoid unexpected legal issues as at the time the rights were kinda split three ways not two (the deal with Sony was with Marvel with the Kingpin clause, not with Fox), but didn't know there was more than that. Since Disney has acquired Fox however the legal case is far more clear on the matter, but not without a fair bit of grey area.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 10:06 AM
@DalekCraigWasson - I'll be honest, I didn't know the full thing with Fox, as unlike Sony the specifics of the legal documents on rights wasn't leaked, but the Sony docs do state that even in the initial deal MARVEL retained rights to Kingpin in specified cases so kind of assumed when they did the deal with Fox they got the full use from the Marvel exception clause (but probably would double check with Sony as a courtesy)...

...but yeh, once the Fox deal expired and Disney acquiring Fox too, Sony owns majority rights/say on his use but clear in regard to 30min episodic animations and DD comic related stuff Disney has full rights to him, beyond that talks at least would be needed.
Order66 - 6/18/2024, 9:42 AM
Sony has no business using Kingpin. F them.
WeaponXCII - 6/18/2024, 10:07 AM
I would love for him to make an appearance in the next Spider-Man.
SonOfAGif - 6/18/2024, 10:53 AM
I still don't understand how Sony's movie division hasn't gone bankrupt yet. They failed with computers, cameras, and televisions. Is the Playstation division truly holding up the entire company? It's wild to me.
Apophis71 - 6/18/2024, 11:04 AM
@SonOfAGif - They own a lot, there is all the music too so unsure where they made all of their $33B gross profit last year but somehow/somewhere they managed on the Sony Pictures Entertainment division make $761M last year.
eagc1995 - 6/18/2024, 12:53 PM
@SonOfAGif - I mean the movie division is not the only thing under Sony, so they can use the money they gain on their other products to keep the movie division alive.
EducatedDefense - 6/18/2024, 11:23 AM
“ Interestingly, the villain hasn't appeared in animation since 2003's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series on MTV.”

That IS interesting. So that WASN’T him in “Into the Spiderverse?” Good to know!
LeonNova - 6/18/2024, 11:53 AM
Sony used him in Spider-Verse, Marvel Studios is using him in the MCU. It would appear they both have rights to him.
eagc1995 - 6/18/2024, 12:54 PM
@LeonNova - Yeah he's shared, but would be easy to assume that there are a list of do and don'ts when it comes to the character

Much like how Fox and Marvel had a list of do and don'ts when it came to the Maximoff twins as they shared the rights to the twins.
String - 6/18/2024, 2:56 PM
There are several big characters that are co-owned by BOTH Disney & SONY. Jessica Drew is one of them. It's probably the big reason why we haven't got a live-action version of the character to this point.

When the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, was created she had nothing to do with the Spider-Man mythos outside of her moniker. So, everything about her is still owned by Marvel, her name, her occupation as a private investigator, her supporting characters, etc. Marvel Studios CAN have a character called Jessica Drew and use her as a private investigator, but they don't have the rights to have her as Spider-Woman. SONY can use Spider-Woman, but they can't use any of Jessica Drew's backstory.

There is still the question SONY can even use the name Jessica Drew. Like the rights for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, SONY didn't have the rights to call them by their real names, Wanda and Pietro. Its why FOX renamed Pietro as Peter. And instead of being European, Quicksilver was changed to American. FOX worked around the rights issue by remaking the character into another version. The same most likely would happen with Jessica Drew. That's what sharing the rights to characters between two different owners looks like.

To me, Jessica Drew is one of those big characters like Miles Morales and Norman Osborn, or to a lesser degree, Black Cat, Marvel Studios is constantly negotiating with SONY to bring MCU adaptions like they did with Peter Parker.

BTW, I would have added Venom but since SONY adapted that character with their own version, that boat has sailed, I don't think Marvel Studios wants to touch that character anytime soon.

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