Marvel Studios is a powerhouse. Under the leadership of Kevin Feige, it has created what we literally now refer to as a universe of characters. While the MCU started with Iron Man, it’s hard to think of what it would look like without the steady and strong presence of both Captain America and Thor. Hindsight is 20/20, but before Marvel found it’s film making mojo, there was a time that those two iconic characters were almost sold to other studios.
Before Feige, there was David Maisel, who led Marvel Studios from 2003-2009. In a recent interview, Maisel revealed that just before his arrival, Marvel was considering selling off Captain America and Thor.
… In his reflection, Maisel interestingly noted that Marvel was pretty close to selling “Captain America” to Warner Bros. and “Thor” to Sony.
“If I had gotten there three months, six months later, [the Warner Bros. and Sony] deals would have been done. And there would be no chance to bring all these characters together.”
Maisel reportedly blocked the “Captain America” and “Thor” deals, and went on to secure a loan from Merrill Lynch for the company to own its live-action movies — for $525 million, with the opportunity for Marvel to greenlight any movie under $165 million that was rated PG-13 — with ten characters’ movie rights up for collateral: “Captain America and something vaguely called the Avengers at the high end, dwindling to Shang-Chi and Power Pack. ”
It is interesting to see Shang-Chi listed in these deals, as this is a character previously rumored to appear in Iron Fist. But it’s almost inconceivable to think of a time that The Avengers is merely a vague concept. But the idea of selling off these properties isn’t too hard to imagine, when you consider that, at some point, Marvel was willing to sell the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and even the beloved Spider-Man.
Would the comic-based movie genre be anything like it is, today, if Cap and Thor were in the hands of another studio? Is there an alternate universe where Sony had rights to Thor and Spider-Man, and these two characters interacted in ways that we never got to see in the early days of the MCU? Would Captain America have been as much of a success if he never interacted with the rest of the Avengers? Could Agent Carter have been a WB television show, where comic-based characters are thriving?
Luckily we have the MCU, intact, as it is today. We can still dream that some of the properties sold off in the earlier days return to Marvel, but in the meantime, tell me your thoughts of this dystopian alternate world where Tony Stark and Steve Rogers never meet.