When Did Disney Buy Marvel Studios

When Did Disney Buy Marvel Studios? (2023 Updated)

Marvel Studios have greatly impacted pop culture and captured fans worldwide - from X-Men movies to Tony Stark playing his iconic role, Iron Man.

Furthermore, they have introduced the most well-loved superheroes today like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Thor.

We spent several hours researching and compiling all necessary information about Disney’s acquisition of Marvel!

When Did Disney Acquire Marvel?

When Did Disney Acquire Marvel?

Disney bought Marvel Entertainment on December 31, 2009, which completely changed the industry [1]. The deal led to the creation of two divisions known as Marvel Studios and Marvel Television. 

After Disney acquired Marvel, the comic book company became even more popular, especially to non-comic book fans.

At present, several Marvel films can be fully enjoyed by fans through the Disney+ streaming service together with other movies and TV shows from Pixar and National Geographic. 

However, despite Disney buying Marvel, the House of Mouse cannot claim that the success of the comic book company is all from their efforts.

As we all know, Marvel Cinematic Universe started booming in 2002 when the movie Spider-Man was first released, and in 2008 when the Iron Man movie became a worldwide box office hit. 

When Did Disney Acquire Marvel?

Since Disney also acquired 20th Century Fox, Marvel has reclaimed character rights of Fantastic Four and the X-Men films.

How Much Did it Cost to Buy Marvel?

Marvel Studios Logo

The deal of the franchise acquisition cost a whopping $ 4 billion for Disney, gaining over 5,000 rights to Marvel’s characters.

Though it sounds like a big amount for film investment, the House of Mouse gained billions of profits from MCU box office films. 

However, acquiring the studio didn’t give full rights to famous MCU heroes like Spider-Man, owned by Sony Pictures. 

Who Owned Marvel Before Disney

Who Owned Marvel Before Disney

Before Disney acquired Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was owned by Ronald Perelman under MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings.

On January 6, 1989, Perelman bought it from New World Entertainment Ltd for $82 million.

However, despite owning the majority stake and under Perelman’s leadership, Marvel Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in 1996. 

In 1997, Carl Icahn bought 20% Marvel bonds and gained overall control of the stocks. ToyBiz and Marvel merged to become Marvel Enterprises to save it from bankruptcy. 

The corporation started flourishing when it regained the rights to the Spider-Man character.

Today, the franchise Marvel Cinematic Universe is continuously making box office hits, and The Avengers: Endgame, produced by Kevin Feige, can certainly attest to its success.

But why are people mad at Disney right now?

Why Did Marvel Sell To Disney

Why Did Marvel Sell To Disney

Although Marvel’s comic books have created many iconic characters, the innovation of technology has changed the animation industry, transforming viewers’ liking.

Back in the 1990s, they were struggling to survive bankruptcy caused by the decline of the comic book market. Since Marvel was mainly operating graphic novels, they sold their stocks back then and offered acquisition to other investors.

After surviving bankruptcy and changing the brand name into Marvel Entertainment in 2005, the corporation aims to produce movies featuring their very own superheroes.

Thus, selling Marvel to Disney gave the corporation a bigger platform to showcase the Marvel Universe offerings.

Who Owns Marvel Now

Who Owns Marvel Now

Being one of the leading media animation corporations worldwide, Disney Studios did everything to pursue its goals.

Although they already have 20th Century Fox and Pixar under their team of animators, Walt Disney announced in August 2009 the deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment.

The acquisition was headed by the former Disney CEO Bob Iger, who worked under the then CEO Michael Eisner.

Since Iger became well versed in the animation field when Disney bought Pixar, he also came up with the acquisition of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Iger said that adding the brand to the studio is a major presence that will create bigger profits for the corporation.

Why Disney Originally Passed on Buying Marvel

Why Disney Originally Passed on Buying Marvel

The tremendous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe today is contributed by the House of Mouse’s great animation.

From the Spider-Man 2002 film to The Amazing Spider-Man films produced by Columbia Pictures under Sony Pictures in 2012 and 2014, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel turned the movie theaters into a whole new level, providing a higher gross profit of making box office hits.

Nonetheless, Iger revealed in his book “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company” when he first initiated the Disney buy Marvel [2].

When Michael Eisner was the CEO, Iger raised the idea of buying the corporation.

However, most executives declined his idea since they thought that the company was too “edgy.”

Also Read:

Special Cases When Disney Bought Marvel Studios

Disney Logo

Marvel and Sony's Joint Custody of Spider-Man

Spiderman was not part of the package deal when Disney bought Marvel Entertainment. 

In 1999, Sony owned the film rights to Spiderman, but when Disney bought the merchandising rights, the control over how he was portrayed and the character in the film remained in Sony. 

In 2019, Sony and Disney continuously shared custody over the Spiderman Franchise. 

20th Century Fox’s Rights in X-Men and Fantastic Four

In the 1990s, the rights to the characters from the Fantastic Four and X-Men were sold to 20th Century Fox. 

Even after Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment, the studio continued making Marvel Movies. 

However, in 2019, Disney purchased 21st Century Fox for $71.3 Billion, including the rights to the characters mentioned above.

What Else Does Disney Own Aside from Marvel Studios?

21st Century Fox Studios  Logo

Disney owns different media companies and some of them are the following:

  • National Geographic
  • Disney Parks, Products, and Experiences
  • FX
  • Hulu
  • 21st Century Fox Studios 
  • ABC
  • A & E (Lifetime and The History Channel) - partly owned
  • Lucasfilm (Star Wars included)
  • Hollywood Records
  • Pixar 


Does Disney own every Marvel unit? 

No. Acquiring the MCU was a great move for the House of Mouse, resulting in the production of the newest MCU movies like Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Eternals. However, they do not own every Marvel unit, including Marvel Games and Marvel Worldwide.

Does Disney own all Marvel characters?

No. Even though the House of Mouse bought the comic book corporation, they don’t have full authority over all Marvel heroes. Instead, they continued purchasing the rights from other corporations such as Star Wars with five films and numerous series. 

Also, the House of Mouse doesn’t have sole rights to the Spider-Man film but co-owned it with Sony.

What Marvel movies does Disney own?

The House of Mouse acquisition of MCU has given them rights to some famous movies today, such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and Avengers: Infinity War. Moreover, they have regained the rights to the film Fantastic Four after acquiring 20th Century Fox in 2019.

How long will Disney own Marvel?

Disney will own Marvel as long as it provides excellent value creation and long-term growth. Disney will no longer own Marvel once they sell it. 

Did Disney own Marvel when Iron Man came out?

No, Disney did not own Marvel when Iron Man came out. Iron Man came out in 2008, earlier than Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. 

In Summary

Overall, the acquisition of MCU did not only benefit the House of Mouse but also saved Marvel from bankruptcy and the difficulties of striving in the movie world.

Since the corporation has fewer means and funds to showcase its iconic superheroes, Disney became a great stepping stone to show what Marvel has in store.

Also, being part of the House of Mouse provided MCU with a bigger viewing stage by garnering more audience from Pixar.

So whether you’re an MCU or Disney fan, the merging of the two entertainment giants surely guarantees even greater movies in the future!

Can't get enough of Disney or MCU? Check out our Marvel toys or Disney collectibles!


  1. https://screenrant.com/disney-marvel-purchase-10-years-movies-changed-how/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2019/10/08/5-career-lessons-from-disney-ceo-bob-igers-new-book-ride-of-a-lifetime/

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