Disney definitely turned some heads when they bought Marvel for $4 billion back in 2009. The media conglomerate hoped that the studio’s many properties would ultimately give them a good return on their investment over time. It’s unlikely that anybody at the company could’ve predicted how much they’d make and how soon they’d make it, though. Looking back on the deal a decade later, $4 billion seems like an absolute steal in comparison to the over $18 billion Disney has hauled in thanks to the House of Ideas.
In retrospect, the purchase looks ingenious. At the time, though, CEO Bob Iger had to convince some executives and investors that it was the right move. “This is perfect from a strategic perspective,” Iger said back then. “This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best.”
Even he had no idea that nearly every character they put on the big screen would ultimately net them huge profits. Back in 2008, superhero movies weren’t even close to the box office slam dunks they are now. Aside from Batman and Spider-Man flicks, few other comic book characters were guaranteed moneymakers.
Iron Man changed all of that shortly before Disney’s purchase, though. Many felt at the time that the film seemed destined for failure. Troubled star Robert Downey Jr. was at the forefront and the movie had been stuck in development hell since 1990. However, the feature defied all odds that summer by grossing almost $100 million in its opening weekend. Iger could tell that this was a turning point for superhero movies and struck while the iron was hot.
The money isn’t going to slow down for the studio any time soon, either. The MCU’s Phase 4 will feature at least ten movies and TV series coming over the next two years, split between theaters and the upcoming Disney Plus streaming service. If that’s not enough, it’s just the beginning of what promises to be a long-running stretch of comic book material.
Disney definitely made the right move by acquiring Marvel. While the purchase certainly benefitted them, it also helped those who adore superheroes finally get the adaptations they’ve long dreamed of. Kudos to Iger for seeing the profitability in all of Stan Lee’s work, as well as acting despite concern from those around him. By making bold moves and helping kickstart the biggest franchise of all-time, he’s become sort of a superhero himself.