A curtain has gone up in the back of the Comics Shop on Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, with its placement indicating a possible expansion of the space.
Marvel Super Hero Island Comics Shop
The Comics Shop is located immediately beyond The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, headed in the direction of Toon Lagoon, with a wide selection of comic books, action figures, collectibles, autographed materials, art, apparel, and accessories.
A black curtain is situated in the back of the store, around the wall shared between this space and the Photos Shop, where guests can meet and take pictures with an assortment of Marvel supers.
The Photos Shop was once a boutique that sold merchandise, such as Loungefly bags. It subsequently closed and became a character meet and greet in 2021, though this may be coming to an end.
Previously, guests could meet superheroes (occasionally villains) who appeared on a rotation, and have the option of purchasing photos from the experience at a separate counter after. The character signs are gone now, and a similar black curtain is up here as well.
The Complicated Marvel Entanglement Between Universal and Disney
In a 1994 agreement, Universal secured the theme park rights to the Marvel brand east of the Mississippi River, and eventually opened Marvel Super Hero Island along with Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 1999. All of this happened before the Hollywood superhero box office boom we know today. Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” was released in 2000 with great success, soon followed by Sam Raimi’s revolutionary 2002 iteration of “Spider-Man.” The latter became the highest-grossing film based on a comic book of all time upon release, and prompted major investment in a vast array of DC and Marvel film forays.
In 2008, Marvel Studios produced “Iron Man,” initially distributed by Paramount Pictures and foundational in the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel the following year, and this is where the theme park complications arise.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ballooned to unparalleled popularity, some guests may be confused to see Captain America or Wolverine at a Universal park, while nearby Walt Disney World seems to be missing these characters entirely. While Disney does technically own Marvel, the older agreement regarding the intellectual property holds firm.
Disney officially owns Marvel, and is now involved with all of Marvel’s films; however, the 1994 agreement stands in full legality and respect. Universal is under no obligation to forfeit their rights to the various characters and franchises. That being said, the interwoven nature of Marvel’s various partnerships from the past, including Sony’s previous involvement, causes issues for both parties.
At a recent Disney shareholders’ meeting, CEO Bob Iger was asked about these restrictions, and he responded:
We certainly would love to be able to do more with Marvel in our parks, but I’ll leave it at that.
Because of the nature of the various agreements, sometimes MCU-related merchandise is available at Universal Orlando Resort, even though the MCU is Disney’s domain.