Universal has the rights to Marvel characters forever. Thats right, forever. Marvel sold the rights to their characters to Universal for their new Islands of Adventure park in the 90's. Marvel did a lot of stupid things with their characters in the 90's. Not putting a end date to those deals was the most stupid decision of all.
Now Disney owns Marvel and all its characters except for those already licensed out to Sony, Fox and Universal for its theme park. Disney wants complete control over everything it owns understandably, which means Universal is in one hell of a bargaining position. It doesn't seem Disney has even made any attempts at making an offer to Universal. But if or when they do I think it would be in Universal's best interest to give up all rights to the Marvel name and characters.
Universal doesn't own any Marvel characters
Okay, sure. They have Namor but that doesn't really even count. Marvel characters are classic but what people care about now are the movie adaptations. Universal has no films it can leverage in the parks and is at the mercy of other studio's films to garner interest in the characters that aren't even necessarily the same.
Do kids in the park ask Captain America specific questions about the Avengers film? If so how does he reply? "I have no idea what you're talking about, kid."
And let's be honest. That superheros riding trikes/ATV parade thing is a damn abomination.
Universal is at a dead end for what these characters can do.
While they still have the rights to use the characters forever, that doesn't mean they can add new attractions. Or even overhaul existing ones. They can't update the costumes or even provide any new experiences without Marvel's approval. Which undoubtedly will be a big fat no.
While Universal has the rights to do new things and build new attractions with Harry Potter (with J.K. Rowling's approval) their Marvel land will eventually be a museum of outdated looking characters, off the shelf theme park rides with character names slapped on. Oh, and a award winning masterpiece of a ride. More on that later.
Land. Land. Land.
Universal needs it but they don't have much of it. Having the opportunity to demolish one of their lands and rejuvenating it would be of great value to the lesser performing park.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is an award winning ride without many equals. Disney has kept rides around for decades and Spider-Man is one that I think could stand the test of time. A reason to fight for the characters? Sure. The rest of that space however could be made over with the same quality and attention to detail has the Harry Potter lands. Wouldn't a retrofitted Spider-Man ride in a new land be even better?
Control and Space
What more could you want? As much as Universal has Disney and Marvel bent over a barrel, they have Universal backed into a corner with what they can do within their own park. By giving up what they can't work with they also gain back valuable real estate. Real estate they will need if they hope to continue growing and gaining interest in their parks.
Universal parks has somewhat of an identity crisis but that is a discussion for a future post. One step in the right direction is cutting off some dead weight and with it comes a big fat check from Bob Iger.