In business there's a concept called "return on investment" and, generally, it's the measurement of gain or loss that a purchase or investment generates compared to the money invested in the first place. Ideally, when a person or a business invests in something or acquires another business, they want to end up not just making back the money put forward but a profit on top of it. For Disney, their return on investment in Marvel has paid off handsomely. A decade after buying Marvel for $4 billion, Marvel has more than quadrupled that sum.
According to USA Today, just the Marvel movies have brought in more than $18.2 billion at the global box office since Disney purchased Marvel in 2009, proving that Disney CEO Bob Iger's comments at the time of Marvel's purchase to be accurate: it was a perfect move, strategically.
"This is perfect from a strategic perspective," Iger said then. "This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best."
As difficult as it may be to imagine now, there was a time when Disney did not own Marvel -- and when superhero films weren't always a sure bet. Back in 2008 when Iron Man hit theaters, it was a markedly different take on superhero films. For reference, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy had just come to its conclusion. In contrast, Iron Man featured more humor as it told the story of comics' other big billionaire playboy turned superhero in a comeback story of sorts starring Robert Downey Jr. The film was distributed by Paramount and, after having been in development since 1990 across various studios and story ideas, debuted as a bona fide hit with nearly $100 million at the box office in its opening weekend. Disney liked what it saw and the rest, as they say, is history.
And now, it's clear that Disney's return on its Marvel investment is simply going to keep getting better and better. At San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige unveiled the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 4, a sizeable slate of 10 films and television series coming up over the next two years both in theaters and on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service. And it won't stop with Phase 4. There's so much more to come that Feige didn't even get a chance to hit it all.
"We didn't even mention that we're making Black Panther 2," Feige said at the panel's end Saturday night. "We didn't even talk about that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is coming. We didn't have time to talk about Captain Marvel 2. I don't even have time to talk about the Fantastic Four and there's no time left to talk about mutants and how mutants come into the MCU."
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall of 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If…? In Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021.