Critics and fans were ambivalent about Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. Sure, the Mouse House could offer Marvel a lot of funds, more popularity, and new universes for its characters.
However, most people feared that Disney would ruin the famous Marvel’s characters. What if they made a Captain America meets Mickey Mouse sequel?
Investors were also expressing doubts about the $4.24 billion payout. Wasn’t this too much money for a franchise that was mostly popular with comic book readers? Could Disney really ignore Marvel’s hit-and-misses before Iron Man?
The last decade showed us that Disney had a good plan in place.
Marvel’s Journey before 2009
The Marvel Cinematic Universe turned Marvel into an iconic brand for movie and comic book lovers. However, its true power is that everyone knows famous Marvel superheroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, or the Black Panther.
Marvel gave life to famous comic book heroes, even though it wasn’t always successful. Ghost Rider is an action-packed movie, but they didn’t score that well with most viewers. Besides, Marvel also had some blatant failures, such as Man-Thing, which is a live-action flop.
Marvel’s biggest success is unarguably 2008’s Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. makes an exquisite appearance, using all his humour and wits to give life to Tony Stark.
Cinema halls were bursting with laughter every few minutes because Iron Man was packed with witty lines delivered by top actors, while the glowing special effects raised your adrenaline to new heights. People still remember today, almost twelve years later, how Tony Stark describes himself as a genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist.
Marvel’s Iron Man made whooping revenues of $600 million worldwide, $100 million of which were gained at the box office. It’s no wonder that Disney was willing to pay $4+ billion for Marvel.
How Disney Used Marvel’s Acquisition
It turns out that people’s fears were unfounded. You don’t get to be an iconic movie giant by doing bad business. After acquiring Marvel, Disney used a combination of useful strategies that increased its profitability. As such, Disney:
- Didn’t interfere with Marvel’s original spirit. In fact, Disney simply brought to life people’s favourite comic books, therefore gaining more fans. Disney was pretty-much hands-off in the creative process, which benefited both the viewers and the company.
- Expanded on the Marvel ideas. You can now admire many secondary characters presented in more detail, such as Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel. That way, you become more immersed in the Marvel Universe, so Disney has more to gain.
- Helped the Marvel Cinematic Universe take more risks. More TV shows, movies, and explored secondary characters mean more opportunities to fail, especially if the protagonists are unattractive characters. However, Guardians of the Galaxy, which is based on characters people don’t usually like, turned a success.
- Took Marvel to TV and streaming. Some of Marvel’s gems were turned into popular series with lots of fans, such as Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Marvel now has more vehicles for its popular characters, as well as its newer ones. That’s because Marvel works tirelessly to produce Marvel TV series based on MCU movies. The result is that the Marvel Universe will continue its expanse with more and more subscriptions.
What did Disney Have to Gain?
Disney had a lot of gains measured by any standards. Financially, Marvel brought Disney a lot of new revenue and a new market, aka comic book lovers who want to see their favourite books turned into movies and shows. Artistically, Marvel allowed Disney to include new stories and characters into its magical empire.
You can measure Disney success by taking into account a few simple factors:
- Disney’s stock price. Disney shares were around $26 before the acquisition of Marvel, and now they’re $101. You may argue that Disney also bought ESPN and Pixar in the last decade or so, but Marvel also contributed to this stock increase.
- Disney’s earnings. Disney’s revenues are on an exponential curve. For instance, Disney’s 2019 revenues were 17% higher than its 2018 earnings. A big chunk of those earnings can be attributed to two or three Marvel movies released each year, as well as merchandise sales
- Box-office revenue. The box-office revenue is another measure of success, considering that Marvel movies and TV shows alone bring Disney a few billions per year. That means Marvel started generating a profit after its first few movies into the acquisition.
Marvel’s Marvelous Successes under Disney Ownership
Marvel had a lot of things to gain too after being acquired by Disney. This acquisition was a strategic partnership considering Disney’s hands-off policy and funds that allow Marvel to explore new creative realms.
As such, Marvel could keep its reputation and artistic independence, expanding on its stories as well as creating new ones.
Marvel went on creating new challenges and stories for beloved characters such as Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man and Captain America. In the meantime, it also gives life to new characters, such as the Black Panther or Doctor Strange.
The actors, scripts, and special effects are almost perfect, but it also helps that Marvel stays on top of people’s minds with a few yearly releases.
This strategy meant $22 billion global box office revenues since Marvel Cinematic Universe works under Disney. For instance, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame made $1.2 billion at the global box office and about $357 million for the US box office. After less than three months in the theatres, Endgame became the movie with the biggest gross revenues of all time.
And Marvel can thank Disney for that.
Will Marvel and Disney Live Happily Ever After?
Disney has a few upcoming Marvel movies in Phase 4, which will be released during the next couple of years. You can expect Black Widow in November 2020, plus The Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2021. You’ll also see Thor, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2022.
So, the answer is yes. The creative possibilities are endless within the Marvel universe, and Disney seems to want to expand these stories. And, if Disney continues to allow Marvel creative freedom and a lot of resources, you’ll enjoy some witty, action-packed movies while Disney will enjoy its growing profits.