In 1998 Sony nearly purchased the rights to the majority of Marvel’s characters.

With the ongoing deal between Disney and Fox still yet to receive an official clearance, it may still take some time for the majority all of Marvel’s characters to be able to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans are at least optimistic that it will happen soon, but it appears that this could have been the case a lot sooner.

As many Marvel fans are now satisfied that Spider-Man is able to appear alongside The Avengers, thanks to the deal between Sony and Marvel Studios, what they might not know is that at one time, Sony was offered pretty much the whole Marvel roster in a deal that would have given them complete exclusivity to the characters.

A report has surfaced that reveals that Sony could have bought most of Marvel’s major characters for a mere $25 million (roughly $38 million in today’s money) back in 1998. The deal would have given Sony the exclusive film rights tomIron Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, Black Panther, and many more of the current MCU characters.

Apparently when a young Sony executive (and eventual Digital Division President) Yair Landau first approached Marvel to express the corporation’s interest in acquiring the rights to Spider-Man at the tail end of the 1990’s, Marvel’s then CEO of entertainment Ike Perlmutter, decided to try and strike a counter-deal that would see Sony scooping up the rights to a large amount of the comic book characters.

The former Sony boss recalls that he said something along the lines of, “Nobody gives a $#!¥ about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”

Whilst Sony did score with the success of Sam Rami’s trilogy of Spider-Man films grossing the studio’s highest ever franchise figures, Marvel Studios have continued to grow in their success, whilst Spider-Man and Sony had virtually reached the end of the commercial rope, after the two rebooted Amazing Spider-Man films (featuring Andrew Garfield in the title role) failed to garner much critical acclaim.

Marvel of course then struck the deal to bring Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also make 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming with Sony still profiting from the film’s distribution rights.

Marvel have reportedly made several offers over the last few years to buy back the characters rights, but Sony are obviously hesitant to give them up after missing out on that deal all those years ago.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed over $13.5 billion since its first release with 2008’s Iron Man and its 18th film, Black Panther is predicted to gross nearly $200 million in its opening weekend alone.

Source; The Wall Street Journal, MovieWeb