It’s December 27th, 1996. After years of bleeding money Marvel just fired one-third of its employees. Shares that had been worth $35.75 cents in 1993, are now $2.38 cents. The company is $610 million in debt. They’re filing for bankruptcy. For the next seven years, Marvel was stock movies like Blade, X men, and Spider-Man were relative successes but Marvel saw a meager percentage of the profits. But one man had a plan to restore glory for Marvel, a plan that risked the rights to their pivotal characters. In 1989, Ronald Perelman bought Marvel for $82.5 million. The billionaire businessman with a signature grin and huge cigar had a long repertoire of turning around dying brands for a profit. He immediately raised prices and pumped out more titles. Initially fans were buying multiple copies of each new comic betting on their eventual high worth. So that, generated a speculator boom, in the same way that any speculator boom happens. So, people were buying 10 copies of a comic and stocking nine of them away in the hopes that they would be worth millions of dollars someday. Within just two years, profits increased tenfold. But what Marvel made in cash the comics lost in quality. Comic sellers at all levels were printing what were called variance and so you’d have a comic with the same inside the same story on the inside but a different cover or a slight a slight variation on the way that it was presented. The pressure for profits was decreasing the quality of the product which was now flooding the market. The rise in future value was becoming increasingly unlikely to double down on profits. Marvel decided to produce more memorabilia, but the industry was shrinking and Marvel was in trouble. We haven’t been too lucky By 1995, chasing profits caught up to Perelman and Marvel. The company reported a loss of $48 million and a debt of $581 million. At this point Perelman knew the future was in film and not in cards or comics. So, he proposed merging Marvel with action figure company Toy Biz to launch Marvel Studios. However, shareholders blocked the plan arguing financial damage to shares would be too great. Perelman filed for bankruptcy in order to continue his plan without shareholder consent. After a two year court case Mr. Perelman’s ties to the company were severed. Marvel was now owned by two Toy Biz executives, Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad. Like Perelman, they had a direct target, movies. They knew this was the future but Marvel, fresh out of bankruptcy needed quick cash. So they auctioned the cinematic rights of their characters to Hollywood. The problem was Hollywood executives didn’t see the value and Marvel was forced into unfavorable deals. Marvel movies of the late 90’s and early 2000’s were blockbuster hits. Blade made $70 million in the box office, but Marvel reportedly took in just $25,000. Spider-man made $3 billion off the first two Spider-man movies, but Marvel only saw $62 million total. They were sitting on a goldmine but cut into reap the benefits. David Maisel calls himself a cross between Iron Man and Peter Pan. He lives in a two bedroom rental in LA. He doesn’t have an assistant lawyer or an agent. But Maisel is a multimillionaire whose bold idea defined a generation of film. In 2003, Marvel was getting ready to sell Captain America to Warner Brothers and Thor to Sony Pictures. This is when Maisel stepped in. Maisel met owners Arad and Perlmutter with an audacious plan. Make the movies yourself. Not only would this give Marvel 100 per cent of the profits. But it would also allow characters to cross over stories just like they do in the comics creating the potential for endless sequels. Arad and Perlmutter were eventually convinced but needed the money. It took until 2005 to get a deal. Marvel Inch contributed $525 million over seven years allowing Marvel to make any superhero movie they wanted, but there was one big condition. The collateral was the movie rights to 10 main characters. Marvel Studios was all in. Their first order of business was assembling previously sold characters. They managed to reacquire the rights to characters like Black Widow, the Hulk and of course Iron Man. From their Marvel Studios chose self-proclaimed comic book nut Kevin Fikry as their president, a man passionate about Marvel. On May 2nd, 2008 Iron Man hit the big screen the future of Marvel was at stake. It was an instant blockbuster hit. In the first weekend, the movie pulled in close to $100 million. In total the first film made $585 million. Yeah, I can fly. It was such a massive success that in 2009 at Disney bought Marvel for $4.3 billion. The rest is history. In total, Marvel movies have grossed over $14 billion since Iron Man. That’s roughly 13 percent of the total box office since 2008. In July of 2018, Disney’s shareholders approved the acquisition of 21st century’s film and television studios. Fox previously owned the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool. You can bet future movies will be jam packed.