Entertainment icon Michael Jackson's attempt to purchase Marvel was "shut down," according to Jackson's nephew Taj Jackson. At San Diego Comic-Con in 2009, Marvel Comics visionary Stan Lee revealed discussions with the King of Pop where the star performer expressed a desire to produce and possibly star in the first movie about Lee and Steve Ditko's famed web-swinging superhero. Before Marvel Entertainment was acquired by Disney at the cost of $4 billion in 2009, a struggling Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1996 before merging with the now-defunct ToyBiz in 1998.
"He wanted to [buy Marvel] with Stan Lee, and they had been talking and discussing that. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. They were shut down from doing that," Jackson told Popcorned Planet. "I don't know the reasons why, but they were adamantly in the process of doing that."
Following up on claims his uncle wanted to play Peter Parker, a role filled by Tobey Maguire in the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man trilogy launched in 2002, Jackson said, "Besides Spider-Man, he was a huge Marvel fan. He knew all the characters. So it was not only Spider-Man [he wanted to buy]. But yeah, he probably wanted to be Spider-Man [laughs]."
Jackson admitted he has difficulty picturing his uncle playing the character, but noted the late performer "would love" the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched by Marvel Studios in 2008. Since 2016, the 23-movie franchise has included a rebooted Spider-Man portrayed by Tom Holland.
"He would be so excited about it," Jackson said. "He was such a movie buff in that way that I think he would have thought this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, all these characters coming together."
Following Michael Jackson's death at the age of 50 in 2009, the co-creator of Spider-Man and the Avengers opened up about Jackson wanting to do a Spider-Man movie at Comic-Con of that year, saying in comments reported by The Telegraph: "I'm not sure whether he just wanted to produce it or wanted to play the role. Our conversation never got that far along."
"He thought I'd be the one who could get him the rights [to Spider-Man], and I told him I couldn't," Lee added. "He would have to go to the Marvel company. But we did become friendly, and he was a great guy."
Asked about those comments by Moviefone in 2012, Lee confirmed Jackson wanted to buy Marvel in the 1990s so he could play Spider-Man.
"Yes, he wanted to. He felt that would be the only way that he could play Spider-Man," Lee said. Asked what Marvel might look like had Jackson purchased the company, Lee answered, "I can't imagine it would have been totally different of course, but maybe not as successful. Michael was not a great businessman."