Marvel Avenged: From financial ruin to the biggest film franchise in history
J Thoendell stashed this in Film
By the time the technology was available to bring Marvel's stable of superheroes to life, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy.
The comic book market crashed in 1993, thanks to a glut of underwhelming titles, and a crisis of confidence amongst collectors. Sales dropped by 70 per cent and Marvel was left heavily in debt. Shares that had been worth $35.75 in 1993 dropped to $2.38 in just three years.
The firm was only saved by a merger with toy company ToyBiz - whose boss, Avi Arad, was appointed President of Marvel's film division after a drawn-out boardroom battle.
Arad looked at the botched attempts to licence Marvel movies in the early 1990s - including a cheap, unreleased production of Fantastic Four - and made a decision: In the future, Marvel would commission its own scripts, hire its own directors and negotiate with stars. Then it would sell the whole package to a major studio, which would shoot and distribute the film.
"When you get into business with a big studio, they are developing a hundred or 500 projects; you get totally lost," Arad told the New York Times in 1996. "That isn't working for us. We're just not going to do it anymore. Period."