Doctor Strange 2 May Be Facing Legal Issues Over Shuma-Gorath

Doctor Strange 2 might not legally be able to include Shuma-Gorath.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Doctor Strange 2 Shuma Gorath Gargantos

Yesterday, fans were treated with a look at some merchandise for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that revealed a new look at the interdimensional villain of the film known as Gargantos. We got several new looks at the tentacled beast, and in yesterday’s article, we discussed how the character of Gargantos seemed to be taking on a lot of the backstory and characteristics of a different comic book character known as Shuma-Gorath.

Well today, more information has come to light, and it’s possible that Marvel Studios may be facing a legal rights issue over the character.


Shuma-Gorath Marvel Comics

Doctor Strange in Multiverse of Madness will be diving headfirst into some horror and Lovecraftian elements, and the most obvious of this is the giant creature we’ve seen in teaser trailer and merchandise. Yet fans were confused when the merchandise revealed the name of the creature as Gargantos rather than Shuma Gorath.

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In the comics, Gargantos was an extremely obscure sea monster best known for battling Namor the Submariner. It never ever even had any interactions with Dr. Strange, nor was it involved with any multiversal or transdimensional shenanigans. It was simply a large sea monster. Shuma-Gorath, on the other hand, is a much better-known character that’s directly dealt with Dr. Strange on many occasions and whose entire identity is based around the idea of ruling over alternate dimensions. Often referred to as one of the “Great Old Ones” or “Many-Angled Ones”, this squiddy fella has multiverse and Lovecraft written all over it.

A quick look at the two character’s designs from the comics (see below) makes it clear that the creature we’re seeing in the Multiverse of Madness trailer and concept art looks more like Shuma-Gorath than it does Gargantos. So why the name change?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Gargantos in Sub-Mariner Volume 1, 13


There are a couple of reasons why Marvel Studios may have decided to rename the character for this movie, but the primary reason is more than likely a legal one. Marvel first used Shuma-Gorath in a 1973 issue of Marvel Premiere #10, but the first appearance of the name was actually in a 1967 short story by Robert E. Howard called “The Curse of the Golden Skull,” which featured Kull the Conqueror. Therefore, the character rights may be tied up with the character of Kull, and since Universal Pictures released a Kull the Conquerer movie back in 1997, they may actually still own the rights to the character of Shuma-Gorath as well, meaning that Marvel Studios can’t use him.

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To confuse the matter even further, IGN reported in 2021 that a Norweigan video game company known as Funcom “fully acquired” the rights to Conan the Barbarian, which may have included the characters of Kull the Conqueror and Shuma-Gorath along with him. Therefore Funcom could have partial ownership as well. This would mean that to get the rights to the character of Shuma-Gorath for Multiverse of Madness, Marvel might have very well have had to negotiate with the Howard family, Funcom, and Universal Pictures.

Because of this, it is entirely possible that Marvel Studios have simply merged the character of Shuma-Gorath with Gargantos for Multiverse of Madness to avoid a potential lawsuit. Of course, just changing the name of a character while still retaining all of their traits isn’t always enough to avoid a legal dispute, so this could get even messier.



To complicate matters even further, the character of Gargantos was first introduced in a Namor comic…and the rights to Namor were also owned by Universal Studios for quite some time.

It’s been rumored that Marvel Studios has purchased the rights to the character of Namor (along with Hulk), but that has not yet been 100% confirmed and Kevin Feige himself has said that the rights to these characters are “not as clean or clear” as the other characters that the studio has full control over. So while it’s possible that Marvel fully owns Gargantos as a character…it’s also equally possible that they may not.

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What this means is that Marvel may have worked out a deal to use the character of Gargantos for Doctor Strange 2. We already know that Namor will be appearing in this year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in a big way, so Marvel and Universal Studios must have come together and made a deal for him. Either that or Marvel purchased the character rights fully. This deal could have been what allowed them to take the name of Gargantos and apply it to the tentacled beast in Doctor Strange 2.

This would hopefully avoid any legal issues surrounding the name Shuma-Gorath, and would also give the mainstream audience a catchier name that might be easier to market. Some fans will likely still be upset, but this seems to have been the route that Marvel Studios have taken. It may also be the reason for some of the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness reshoots that took place in November 2021.


New Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness Merchandise Offers a Closer Look At Gargantos

Either way, fans shouldn’t worry. This villainous creature in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will obviously be heavily influenced by Shuma-Gorath, and will clearly be a transdimensional and multiversal threat to our main cast of characters…even if it goes by a different name. It’s also entirely possible that Gargantos will not be one single beast in this film, but a collective hive mind of identical squid-beasts bent on spreading itself across realities.

We saw a similar beast go up against Captain Carter in What If…?, and I’d say it’s a good bet that these two squids are part of the same entity. It’s easy to see how all the time and reality tampering that the Avengers have done in the MCU has weakened the multiverse enough for this creature to emerge. Like Mordo said in the trailer, “the bill always comes due.” Watch it get paid when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on May 6, 2022.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Doctor Strange 2

What are your thoughts on these Shuma/Gargantos shenanigans? Do you think it will affect the Doctor Strange sequel either way? Does anyone else have a craving for calamari? Let us know what you think in the comments below and share all your thoughts and theories with us on Twitter.

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