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Disney originally passed on Marvel for being 'too edgy,' says CEO

Disney CEO Bob Iger reveals in his memoir why his predecessor, former CEO Michael Eisner, originally passed on Marvel.

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Thanks to Disney buying Marvel Entertainment fans get blockbuster MCU movies like Avengers: Endgame. 

Marvel Studios

Back when Disney was run by CEO Michael Eisner, the idea of buying a company full of superheroes wasn't considered very enticing by various executives.

Disney CEO Bob Iger reveals in his new memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company that Disney nearly purchased Marvel Entertainment earlier, but those in charge at the time considered the company "too edgy," according CNET's sister site ComicBook.com on Monday.

"Early in my time working for Michael, I attended a staff lunch in which he floated the idea of acquiring [Marvel]; a handful of executives around the table objected," Iger wrote in his book.

"Marvel was too edgy, they said. It would tarnish the Disney brand. There was an assumption at the time -- internally, and among members of the board -- that Disney was a single, monolithic brand, and all of our businesses existed beneath the Disney umbrella.

"I sensed Michael knew better, but any negative reaction to the brand, or suggestion that it wasn't being managed well, he took personally."

Disney and Marvel didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iger succeeded Eisner as CEO of Disney in 2005. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion. Since Disney acquired Marvel, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken in more than $18 billion at the global box office. Not a bad return on the investment.

The feeling seems mutual. Last year, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said the Disney partnership helped Marvel become the success it is today.

"I'm not sure we would be here if we weren't bought by Disney," Feige said at the 2018 Produced By conference in June, where he explained that Marvel Studios benefits from Disney's smart marketing and distribution plans.

Now with the Disney Plus streaming service launching on Nov. 12, and Phase 4 of MCU movies coming out starting with the Black Widow standalone movie on May 1, 2020, fans will continue to benefit from the Disney-Marvel partnership.