During the 1980s, as Stan Lee tried to get Marvel properties developed as movies and TV series in an inhospitable media landscape, he and former Marvel Television chief Margaret Loesch nearly brought the Japanese series that would eventually serve as the basis for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to TV. Lee, who could see the appeal of a series that was bizarre, funny, and violent to the kids and teen boys who were Marvel's bread and butter, took to Japanese sentai projects with ease, and managed to get Loesch on board...but it was not to be, as networks didn't know what to make of it.
It all started with the 1978 Spider-Man TV show, which ended after 13 episodes in the United States but inspired a Japanese Spider-Man series which would run for longer and become a huge financial hit. The relationships Lee and Marvel built in Japan while exporting Spider-Man would go on to make them a lot of money overseas, but maybe the biggest potential hit that that partnership offered never got off the ground, as related in the latest season of The Toys That Made Us.
As CEO of Marvel TV, Margaret Loesch said that Lee showed her one of the series, and pitched her on it. She liked it, comparing it to Godzilla movies, and made a $25,000 pilot with Lee. Unfortunately for Marvel, nobody wanted it, and it would be years before sentai series would head to the American TV market.
How did Lee come to be interested? Well, Marvel had worked with Toei not just on the Spider-Man series but on other projects as well, including a sentai series that took inspiration from the Spider-Man series but incorporated original Japanese characters and elements. He loved the look and feel of the series, and it was that enthusiasm that convinced him to bring it to Loesch.
Of course, the same series that Lee had been interested in -- Toei's Super Sentai -- would go on to be the basis for Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series -- a franchise that has generated a seemingly bottomless well of revenue and merchandise since it finally hit TV about ten years after Lee and Loesch first made their attempt.0comments
Ironically, after her time at Marvel, Loesch headed to the then-new Fox Kids and was the executive responsible for working with Lee to bring Marvel projects to TV...but also for greenlighting Power Rangers when Saban brought it to her.
While a lot of fans are learning about all of this for the first time, it is not new information. You can check out a profile of Loesch at Inverse, which goes into more details and was released in November of 2018.