In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment $4.24 billion. This investment has proven a rather successful one, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe subsequently raking in billions more at the box office. However, the prospect of the House of Mouse buying the House of Ideas was actually suggested prior to 2009, but was initially met with staunch apprehension. The reason, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger: Disney execs considered Marvel to be "too edgy."
In his new memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Iger recounts a time when Michael Eisner -- his predecessor as CEO -- optioned the idea of Disney acquiring the comics giant. As Iger tells it, this idea did not go over very well with those present.
"This wasn’t the first time Marvel has been on Disney’s radar," Iger recalls. "Early in my time working for Michael, I attended a staff lunch in which he floated the idea of acquiring them. A handful of executives around the table objected. 'Marvel was too edgy,' they said. It would tarnish the Disney brand."
He continues, "There was an assumption at the time -- internally, and among members of the board -- that Disney was a single, monolithic brand, and all of our businesses existed beneath the Disney umbrella. I sensed Michael knew better, but any negative reaction to the brand, or suggestion that it wasn’t being managed well, he took personally."
Of course, the higher ups at Disney would change their tune eventually. Eisner stepped down as CEO in 2005, with Iger taking his place. Marvel Studios kicked off the MCU in 2008 with Iron Man, which was quickly followed by The Incredible Hulk. Disney acquired Marvel one year later and the rest, as they say, is history.