The Thanos snap in Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame left people reeling in the cinematic universe and the real world. The movie generated $2.78 billion worldwide, placing it as a close second for highest grossing movie of all time. It’s no surprise that Marvel movies have had such success, though, the company has long been a cultural touchstone of superhero storytelling. From comic book pages to the movie theater screen, Marvel has captivated audiences with extraordinary superheroes for the past 75 years.
The Marvel Legacy
Marvel Entertainment may have started in the form of hand-drawn superheroes, but today the company is a household name for its Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Marvel hasn’t abandoned its original art form. Marvel Entertainment is the parent company of the subsidiary Marvel Comics, which still releases new comics in digital and paper formats. Whether the company uses comic books or film media to tell their stories, Marvel focuses on the harrowing tales of superheroes who save humanity, battle villains and struggle to find their place in the world. With more than 8,000 characters whose stories often intersect, it’s easy to immerse yourself in this fictional realm.
Marvel became part of the comic book industry under a different name in 1939. The company launched as Timely Comics, which was rebranded as Atlas Comics and finally evolved into Marvel Comics in 1961. This same year Stan Lee contributed his comic book genius and revitalized consumer interest in the company with the creation of the Fantastic Four superhero team.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Marvel licensed out the rights to film many of their superheroes, such as Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man, to other film studios. However, when The Walt Disney Company spent $4 billion to purchase Marvel in 2009, the mega conglomerate began reacquiring the rights to the films and returning many of the superheroes to the Marvel Studios logo.
Today, Marvel under Disney has created a rolling franchise of 23 movies. Phase three of the Infinity Saga concluded with Spider-Man: Far From Home. Phase one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. What comes next from the movie franchise is largely unknown, as Disney and Marvel have been tight-lipped about the story lines explored in phase four.
Marvel’s New Media Ventures
Just as Marvel evolved from the comic-book page to the big screen, the company continues to change alongside technology. Marvel New Media is the recently developed subsidiary to Marvel Entertainment. The platform produces digital content suitable for podcasts that tell the stories of real people. At the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in April 2018, Marvel announced the digital series Women of Marvel, along with five other programs.
Marvel movies are also transitioning to a single streaming destination: Disney+. When the streaming platform launches Nov. 12, 2019, it will be the exclusive location to watch any Disney film from 2019 and later, including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. In its first year, Disney+ is scheduled to release new, original Marvel titles for streaming.
DC Comics — A longtime rival
Much like Marvel superheroes have ongoing battles with super villains, Marvel has a competitor that has refused defeat for decades. DC Comics only became known under that name in 1977, but it launched as National Allied Publications in 1934. DC Comics created timeless fan favorite superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
While Marvel undoubtedly pulls more revenue from their MCU films, DC is a stronger competitor in its animated productions, like Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League. DC also has a greater presence in live-action TV series and continues to expand this universe.
Marvel’s Film Future
While exact release dates are still iffy, Disney has given Marvel fans a glimpse of movies expected to premiere over the next five years. With the Disney and Fox merger completed in March 2019, Marvel can now incorporate X-Men superheroes into the MCU. Couple that with the Marvel shows launching on Disney+, and Marvel’s future is rife with crossover potential.
- The New Mutants
- Black Widow
- The Eternals
- Black Panther 2
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
- Doctor Strange 2
- Into the Spider-Verse 2 (and spin-off movies)
Stan Lee and Marvel’s Complicated Relationship
Die-hard comic fans and superhero film buffs collectively mourned the loss of Stan Lee November 2018. The comic book writer and editor helped revamp interest in the industry with his rebranding of comic book characters as personable, realistic beings. While he made a cameo in 60 Marvel movies, there were disputes behind the scenes regarding his fair payment.
In 2002, Stan Lee sued Marvel for not paying him 10 percent of movie profits as his contract stipulated. The contract was signed in 1998, before anyone knew the massive earnings Marvel movies would generate. The case ended in a settlement, in which Marvel paid Lee an undisclosed seven-figure amount.
The Marvel Brand Rank
While Marvel’s exact revenue and value isn’t publicly available, those interested can look at the parent company, Disney. According to Forbes, Disney ranks as the 13th most powerful brand company in the world with an estimated value of $19 billion. Considering the MCU has generated more than $22 billion since Iron Man was released, and these profits don’t include sales from comics and merchandise, it’s safe to assume the Marvel subsidiary has been a highly profitable venture for Disney.
For decades, comic book fans have marveled at the thrilling stories created by Marvel. As technology and streaming medias evolve, the way we consume these super adventures may change. But the Marvel superheroes remain cultural icons, enchanting a new generation of superhero fans and audiences worldwide.