Sony Turned Down Key Marvel Character Rights

You can never be certain of anything, but some executives at Sony Pictures are still probably kicking themselves as a new article in The Wall Street Journal has revealed that – at one point back in 1998 – the company could’ve had the rights to basically every Marvel Comics character for a song.

Twenty years ago, a time when superheroes were effectively a dead genre at the box-office until “Blade” came along later that year to kick things up, a young Sony Pictures executive named Yair Landau met with Marvel to secure the big screen rights to Spider-Man.

Sony had DVD rights, but wanted to do a film adaptation. Marvel, having just escaped near bankruptcy, offered the studio big screen rights to nearly every Marvel character for a mere $25 million. The studio’s response? “Nobody gives a s— about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”

They did and in the process, they scored the rights to the film. Four years later, Sony opened Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” while Marvel ended up setting up their own studio first with the help of Paramount, and then as part of the world superpower that is the Disney corporation. The Marvel Studios current box-office haul worldwide to date? Around $13 billion.