When it comes to loving superhero films, the world can literally be divided into two religions – DC and Marvel. You will get people on social media debating over which superhero movie label is the best, DC or Marvel. Yes, people take superhero films that seriously, and why shouldn’t they? Superhero movies are the most fascinating thing you can watch on movie screens and even if you don’t know anything about the characters, there won’t be one moment in that 2.5 hours of entertainment which will bore you!
Today we are going to talk about the lesser known facts about the billion-dollar entertainment company, Marvel Entertainment Ltd. It’s an American entertainment company founded in June 1998 and based in New York, formed by the merger of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. and ToyBiz.
The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and is mainly known for its Marvel Comics, Marvel Animations and Marvel Television units.
Let’s shift to the facts now:
1. Bankruptcy- The downfall of Marvel Entertainment in the 1990s
No company is perfect, so neither was Marvel. It had its downfall back in 1990s when Marvel Entertainment started losing money. They owed $1.7 million to Disney alone. One-third of the employees at Marvel lost their jobs and at that point.
2. The collapse led to success
ToyBiz helped Marvel to survive the bankruptcy and Avi Arad, who was appointed the president of Marvel’s film division, made a decision that from now on, Marvel would sell film rights to other studios. Film rights for the X-Men were sold to Fox while that of Spider-Man was sold to Sony. Out of the $3 billion that Spider-Man 1 and 2 brought in, Marvel received only $62 million. This led Marvel to decide that they would no longer sell out film rights but would produce them internally.
3. Sony Pictures only accepted Spider-Man in 1998
Sony Pictures bought Spider-Man rights for $10 million in 1998 as they thought that Spider-Man was the only character the audience would be able to relate to.
4. Howard the Duck was the savior for Marvel
In 1986, a movie was made of the same name by George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise. It cost an estimated $37 million and grossed under $38 million internationally which netted under $1 million. The movie cost $37 million to make and earned just $16 million in the U.S.
5. Michael Jackson tried to buy Marvel (and, we are not kidding!)
According to Stan Lee, in a discussion with late pop-icon Michael Jackson, he revealed that though Michael Jackson was offered the role of Professor X, he still was passionate about playing the role of Spider Man. Jackson’s passion was so strong that he literally offered to buy Marvel.
6. Marvel once held the publishing trademark on the word “zombie” between 1975 and 1996. They own the rights to the word “super-hero” and “super-villain” to this day.
7. Marvel was always so advanced and into the future. They had printed Superman fighting with the Nazis even before America entered World War II.
8. Marvel successfully argued in court that Mutants are not people and thus got to pay the lower tax rate on X-Men “toys” instead of the higher tax rate for dolls because they are not human.
9. Mark E. Gruenwald was the creator of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe that was published in 1982
During his career at Marvel, Gruenwald was in charge of the Spider-Man, The Avengers, Captain America and the Iron Man series. In 1996, due to fatal health issues, Gruenwald passed away. To pay a tribute to his work, Marvel mixed with the ink for the first print of the trade collection of his most memorable series.
10. A comic-fan got his idea purchased by Marvel for $220.
The idea involved Spider Man turning into a villain, Venom. Venom went on to be listed as #33 on Empire Magazine’s “50 Greatest Comic Book Characters” and the 22nd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time in IGN’s list of the top 100 comic villains.
11. Marvel pays $1 million a year to Stan Lee just for being Stan Lee. He is bound to receive the payment for life.