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Disney paid $4 billion to buy Marvel in 2009. The entertainment giant gained access to Marvel’s library of thousands of characters, including cult favorites such as Captain America and Iron Man, as part of its bid to broaden its mass appeal with young viewers.
While the deal was a natural fit for Disney’s business model of films, theme park experiences and merchandise, some executives resisted the move. In his 2019 memoir “The Ride of a Lifetime,” former Disney CEO Bob Iger said the deal may have happened even sooner if not for some executives who felt Marvel was “too edgy” and could damage the company’s wholesome image.
"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,” Iger wrote. “I sensed [former Disney CEO Michael Eisner] knew better, but any negative reaction to the brand, or suggestion that it wasn't being managed well, he took personally."
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The completed deal allowed Disney to pursue the series of films now known as the “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” The franchise featured solo movies for famous characters as well as crossover appearances with multiple superheroes.
The movies have been a critical and commercial success. “Avengers: Endgame,” the 22nd movie in the “MCU,” grossed a record sum of nearly $2.8 billion at the global box office.
Marvel Entertainment operates as a Disney subsidiary.