Disney Initially Turned Down Buying Marvel Because They Were Too Edgy
In just over a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the most lucrative franchise in the history of cinema, earning over $22bn at the box office. The strength of the brand has only reinforced Disney’s monopoly at the top of the Hollywood pile, with the movies of Marvel Studios regularly featuring among the highest earners of any given year. In 2019 alone, three of the four biggest hits of the year come from the MCU, including the single highest-grossing movie of all-time.
However, there was a period when the franchise wasn’t quite the guaranteed money-spinner that it is now, and when Marvel initially decided to launch their own studio in order to finance their own big-budget blockbusters, many people in the industry speculated that the comic book company were setting themselves up to fail.
Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger recently revealed that during his early years working at the company, former studio chief Michael Eisner raised the possibility of buying Marvel, only to be shot down by his fellow high-profile executives.
“Early in my time working for Michael, I attended a staff lunch in which he floated the idea of acquiring Marvel. A handful of executives around the table objected. Marvel was too edgy, they said. It would tarnish the Disney brand.”
It seems incredible to think now, given how the MCU has arguably become the crown jewel in Disney’s ever-expanding portfolio, that the studio once refused to even float the idea of taking Marvel over. They obviously relented though and purchased the company for over $4bn in 2009, but a few of those executives may have soon been finding themselves new jobs if anybody else swooped in before them to take the reins of Marvel Studios and the billions upon billions of dollars in revenue that it generates.