No one expected that Marvel would become this huge cinematic behemoth that we know today. So when fans learned that Sony had the opportunity to purchase every other character in the comic book franchise for a “really low price”, they had mixed reactions. But one thing’s for certain — Sony missed out on a good deal.
The fun fact was reshared by Reddit user u/AbdullahNajam on r/MarvelStudios, using information shared via The Wall Street Journal in 2018. It was reported that, in 1998, Sony Pictures was tasked to purchase the rights for Spider-Man, only to be offered a sweet deal by the comic book company to purchase the rest of the characters.
However, Sony declined because, at the time, they believed that the other characters were ‘irrelevant’. Please drop your biggest Ls in the chat.
According to WSJ, in 1998, Marvel “was fresh out of bankruptcy and desperate for cash, so its new chief, Ike Perlmutter, responded with a more audacious offer. Sony, he countered, could have the movie rights to nearly every Marvel character—Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and more—for $25 million.”
Sony’s response: “Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”
Fans were mixed about Sony’s decision. For one, they believe what Sony did was stupid and that they missed out on something potentially huge. However, this offer was made in 1998, 10 years before the first Iron Man film came out. Nobody knew that superhero films would become the cinematic juggernaut that we know today. Some Marvel fans believed that Sony made the right decision at the time.
Fans wondered what Sony would have done if it bought the rights for the other Marvel characters. Most of them believed that these characters would have been shelved as Sony wouldn’t have done anything, not to mention the obscurity of the characters. Plenty of Superhero movies back in the day were just generic superhero flicks, where outsiders get powers and have to fight bad guys. The MCU was a huge gamble, especially if you’re introducing characters that nobody has heard of before.
In the end, while fans could mock Sony for the missed opportunity, especially on how popular X-Men was at the time, it was probably a risky move. $25 million may be a low price tag, especially now due to how big the franchise is. But superhero films were just niche things at the time. But one thing that fans could agree on – Sony makes good cameras.
The Infinity arc of the MCU is a testament to just how much the risk would eventually pay off. Back in the day, people only cared about a few Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men. But now, we are interested in other heroes such as Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel, characters that no one would’ve known unless they read the comics.
And with the Multiverse arc happening for Phase Four to Six, more superhero characters that were once considered ‘unimportant’ will be introduced in hopes to capture fans’ interest.