After 10 years of successful movies, it's fair to say that Marvel Studios is officially one of the biggest film companies out there. The early days of the studio seemed like a hard sell without Spider-Man and the X-Men but Marvel pulled it off thanks to films like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and eventually The Avengers.
Would all of this have been possible if Sony owned the rights to these characters though?
The Wall Street Journal just ran a lengthy article about how Sony was once offered the film rights for most of the Marvel superheroes, outside of the X-Men, for US$25 Million back in 1998. At the time, Marvel had just recovered from bankruptcy and was far from the cinematic juggernaut they are now. However, Executive Yair Landau was only interested in the rights of Spider-Man since Sony already owned the DVD rights of the character.
It's easy to say that the company is kicking themselves for not taking the offer, considering how big Marvel is these days. However, it's hard to say if the other heroes would have been used well. Sure, Spider-Man was mostly a success under Sam Raimi's direction but Sony also had the film rights to Ghost Rider, whose films are horrible even with Nicholas Cage hamming it up.
Without someone as passionate as Kevin Feige, it's doubtful that a Sony Marvel-verse would have been a success, outside of anything related to Spider-Man. Sony has seemingly regretted this decision since they have purchased the film rights to all of the characters from Valiant Comics. Can the Valiant cinematic universe compete with the MCU? Only time will tell.
Black Panther, the 10th-anniversary installment of the MCU, is showing in cinemas tomorrow.