Marvel Studios, LLC
Company typeSubsidiary of Marvel Entertainment
GenreMotion Pictures and Television
Key people
Kevin Feige
Louis D'Esposito
ParentMarvel Entertainment
(The Walt Disney Company)
DivisionsMarvel Television

Marvel Studios, LLC[1] originally known as Marvel Films from 1993 to 1996, is an American television and motion picture studio based at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The Studio is a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.[3] Being a part of the Disney conglomerate, Marvel Studios works in conjunction with The Walt Disney Studios, another Disney unit, for distribution and marketing.[4]

Marvel Studios includes numerous units and joint ventures, both operating and defunct: Marvel Television, Marvel Animation Studios, Marvel Music, MVL Productions LLC, and MLG Productions.

Amongst the many animated, television, feature film and music releases, the studio has been involved in three Marvel-character film franchises that have each exceeded one billion dollars in North American revenue—the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Marvel Cinematic Universe multi-film franchises with X-Men and Spider-Man licensed out to 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures respectively. The current film distributors Marvel currently has deals with are Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Universal Pictures.

The "MVL Productions LLC" unit has released eight films since 2008 under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). These films all share a timeline, cast and characters.


Timely era

During what is known as Marvel's Timely era, Captain America was licensed out to Republic Pictures for a serial just for the free advertising. Timely failed to provide any drawing of Captain America with his shield or any further background, and Republic created a whole new background for the character, and portrayed the character using a gun.[5]

Marvel Entertainment Group's initiative

In the late 1970s up to the early 1990s, Marvel Entertainment Group (MEG) sold options to studios to produce films based on Marvel Comics characters. Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s superheroes, was optioned in the late 1970s, and rights reverted to Marvel in April 1996 without a film having been produced. From 1986 to 1996, most of Marvel’s major characters had been optioned, including the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Iron Man.[6] A Howard the Duck film made it to the screen in 1986, but was a box-office flop. With MEG purchased by New World Entertainment, New World moved to produced films based on the Marvel characters, but one movie, The Punisher (1989), came out of New World before MEG was sold to Andrews Group. Two other films were produced: Captain America (1990) released in the United Kingdom on screens and direct to video in the United States, and The Fantastic Four (1993), not intended for release. Marvel's rival DC Comics, on the other hand, had success licensing its properties Superman and Batman into blockbuster films.[7]


Marvel Films

Following Marvel Entertainment Group's (MEG) ToyBiz deal in 1993, Avi Arad of ToyBiz was named President and CEO of Marvel Films division and of New World Family Filmworks, Inc., a New World Entertainment subsidiary. New World was MEG's former parent corporation and later a fellow subsidiary of the Andrews Group.[8] Marvel Productions became New World Animation by 1993 as Marvel would start up Marvel Films including Marvel Films Animation.[8][9][10][11] New World Animation (The Incredible Hulk), Saban (X-Men), and Marvel Films Animation (Spider-Man) each produced a Marvel series for television.[12] It was Marvel Films Animation's only production.[10][11]

New World Animation and Marvel Films Animation were sold along with the rest of New World by Andrews Group to News Corporation/Fox as announced in August 1996. As part of the deal, Marvel licensed the rights to Captain America, Daredevil and Silver Surfer to be on Fox Kids Network and produced by Saban. New World Animation continued producing a second season of The Incredible Hulk for UPN.[12][13]

Marvel Studios

In August 1996, Marvel decided to create Marvel Studios, an incorporation of Marvel Films, due to the sale of New World Communications Group, Inc., Marvel's fellow Andrews Group subsidiary in film and television stations, to News Corporation/Fox. Filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise money to finance the new corporation, Marvel, Isaac Perlmutter's Zib, Inc. and Avi Arad sold Toy Biz stocks, which Marvel had started and took public in February 1995.[6][14] Toy Biz filed an offering of 7.5 million shares with a closing price of $20.125 at the time, making the offering worth approximately $150 million. Toy Biz sought to sell 1 million shares, and Marvel sought to sell 2.5 million shares.[15]

Jerry Calabrese, the president of Marvel Entertainment Group, and Avi Arad, head of Marvel Films and a director of Toy Biz, were assigned tandem control of Marvel Studios. Under Calabrese and Arad, Marvel sought to control pre-production by commissioning scripts, hiring directors, and casting characters, providing the package to a major studio partner for filming and distribution. Arad said of the goal for control, "When you get into business with a big studio, they are developing a hundred or 500 projects; you get totally lost. That isn't working for us. We're just not going to do it anymore. Period."[6] Marvel Studios arranged a seven-year development deal with 20th Century Fox to cover markets in the United States and internationally.[16] In the following December, Marvel Entertainment Group went through a reorganization plan, including Marvel Studios as part of its strategic investment.[17] By 1997, Marvel Studios was actively pursuing various film productions based on Marvel characters, including the eventual films X-Men (2000), Daredevil (2003) and Fantastic Four (2005). Unproduced projects included Prince Namor, based on the character Namor and to be directed by Philip Kaufman, and Mort the Dead Teenager, based on the comic book of the same name and written by John Payson and Mort creator Larry Hama.[18] Marvel was developing a Captain America animated series with Saban Entertainment for Fox Kids Network to premier in fall 1998. However, due to the bankruptcy the series was canceled before the premiere.[12][19][20]

Licensing movies

The first film licensed by Marvel Studios was Blade, based on the vampire hunter Blade. The film was directed by Stephen Norrington and starred Wesley Snipes as Blade. It was released on August 21, 1998, grossing $70,087,718 in the United States and Canada and $131,183,530 worldwide.[21] In 1999, Marvel licensed Spider-Man to Sony.[22]

Blade was followed by X-Men, which was directed by Bryan Singer and was released on July 14, 2000. X-Men grossed $157,299,717 in the United States and Canada and $296,250,053 worldwide.[23] The Marvel films Blade and X-Men demonstrated that blockbuster films could be made out of comic book characters not familiar to the general public.[24]

Leading up to X-Men's release, Marvel Studios negotiated a deal with then-functional Artisan Entertainment, successful with the low-budget The Blair Witch Project, to give the studio rights to 15 Marvel characters including Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Deadpool. With the deal at the time, 24 Marvel properties were then in various stages of development. Brian Cunningham, editor of Wizard comic book magazine, believed that Avi Arad was successful in organizing strategic alliances and exercising fiscal responsibility in multimedia expansion. Cunningham said of Arad’s leadership of the studio following its parent company’s near-bankruptcy, "The fact the X-Men is primed to be the biggest movie of the summer speaks volumes about the turnaround for Marvel. From my observation, he's focused on a lot more in diversifying Marvel, doing things that proliferate Marvel characters in the mainstream." Arad sought to protect Marvel’s image by serving as executive producer in all Marvel film productions and being responsible for crossover marketing between Marvel properties. Arad had properties set up at different studios to create momentum so one studio would not cannibalize efforts with one property for the sake of another.[25] By 2001, the success of Marvel Entertainment’s Ultimate Marvel comics created leverage in Hollywood for Marvel Studios, pushing more properties into development.[26]

The next blockbuster film licensed from Marvel Studios was Spider-Man by Columbia Pictures, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. The film was released on May 3, 2002, grossing $403,706,375 in the United States and Canada and $821,708,551 worldwide.[27] The early success of Spider-Man led the film's studio to issue a seven-figure advance for a sequel. Arad spoke of the deal, "Movies make sequels. Therefore, it's a big economic luxury to know that a movie's going to get a second and third. This is a business of precedence."[28] According to a Lehman Brothers analysis, the Studios' made only $62 million for the first 2 Spider-man movies.[22]

In producing Marvel films in the 2000s, Avi Arad sought to capture the superheroes’ internal conflicts. According to The New York Times, "Mr. Arad's great accomplishment – and it is one, given the difficulties in transferring any kind of printed material to the big screen – is conveying what makes those heroes tick as characters... He works with the filmmakers to ensure that the heroes are conflicted, the villains motivated, the outcome shaded." In contrast to the original storylines of DC Comics’ Superman and Batman films, Marvel films were more directly inspired by their comics, copying from them set pieces, scenes, plots, and dialogue.[24]

Partnering with Lions Gate Entertainment in 2004, Marvel Studios plan to enter the direct-to-DVD market with eight animated films with Lionsgate handling distribution.[29][30] Eric Rollman was hired by Marvel as Executive Vice President, Home Entertainment & TV Production for Marvel Studios to oversee the deal with Lionsgate.[31]


In 2004, David Maisel was hired as chief operating officer of Marvel Studio as he had a plan for the Studios to self-finance movies.[32] Marvel entered into a non-recourse financing structure with Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. that is collateralized by certain movie rights to a total of 10 characters from Marvel's vast vault. Marvel gets $525 million to make a maximum of 10 movies based on the company's properties over eight years, according to the parameters of the original deal with Paramount Pictures in September 2004. Those characters were: Ant-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, Captain America, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Power Pack, Shang-Chi.[33][34] Ambac insurance company insured the movies would succeed or they would pay the interest payment on the debt and get the movie rights collateral.[22] In October 2005, Michael Helfant joined the Studio as President and Chief Operating Officer.[35] In November 2005, Marvel gained the film rights to Iron Man from New Line Cinema. Marvel revealed that it has regained the film rights to The Incredible Hulk in February 2006.[36] In April 2006 Paramount Pictures acquired the rights to Thor from Sony. That year the film was announced to be a Marvel Studios production.[37] Lions Gate Entertainment subsequently dropped the Black Widow motion picture project it had since 2004 giving the rights back to Marvel.[38] Masiel and Arad fought over the rate of movie releases and strength of characters in the movie line up. Perlmutter supported Masiel and thus, in May 2006, Arad quit as studio chair and CEO.[32] In March 2007, David Maisel was named Chairman[32] and Kevin Feige was named President of Production as Iron Man began filming.[39]

In 2008, Marvel Studios signed a lease with Raleigh Studios to host its headquarters and production offices and film the next four movies on the studios’ slate, including Iron Man 2 and Thor, at their Manhattan Beach facilities.[40] In January 2008, Marvel Animation was incorporated to direct Marvel's efforts in animation and home entertainment markets including then animation efforts with Lionsgate and Nickelodeon. Marvel Entertainment named Eric Rollman as President of the company in April 2008.[31] By September 2008, Paramount added to its domestic film distribution contract 5 additional Marvel movies' foreign distribution.[41]

In 2009, Marvel attempted to hire a team of writers to help come up with creative ways to launch its lesser-known properties, such as Black Panther, Cable, Iron Fist, Nighthawk, and Vision.[42] In early 2009, Sony returned all Spider-Man television rights in exchange for an adjustment to the movie rights.[43]

Disney conglomerate

On December 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Both Marvel and Disney stated that the merger would not affect any preexisting deals with other film studios for the time being,[44] although Disney said they would distribute future Marvel projects with their own studios once the current deals expire.[45]

In June 2010, Marvel Entertainment set up a television division within Marvel Studios, headed up by Jeph Loeb as Executive Vice President,[46] under which Marvel Animation will be operated.[47] On October 18, Disney bought the distribution rights for Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures[48] with Paramount's logo remaining on the films.[49]

On August 22, 2011, at Disney's behest, the Studio dismissed most of its marketing department: Dana Precious, EVP of Worldwide Marketing; Jeffrey Stewart, VP of Worldwide Marketing and Jodi Miller, Manager of Worldwide Marketing. Disney markets Marvel's films.[50] In April 2012, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment announced an agreement to co-produce Iron Man 3 in China. DMG partly financed, produced in China with Marvel, and handled co-production matters. DMG also distributed the film in China in tandem with Disney.[51]

Upon the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, Disney and Sony negotiated a two-way agreement. Disney would receive full merchandising ancillary rights to future Spider-Man films in exchange for Sony purchasing out Marvel's film participation rights.[52]

In April 2013, Marvel Studios moved its production facilities from Manhattan Beach to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.[53]

On July 2, 2013, Disney purchased the distribution rights to Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger from Paramount.[54][55][56]

Character rights

After being acquired by Disney, Marvel began to reclaim the rights to characters that had been licensed out to other studios since the late 1990s, starting with Blade from New Line Cinema.[57] In August 2012, it was reported that 20th Century Fox was willing to allow the film rights to the superhero Daredevil and his related characters revert to Marvel and Disney, a contracted stipulation that required Fox to begin production on a new Daredevil film by late 2012. Fox had approached Marvel about extending the deadline and becoming a co-financier for the film, but was rebuffed.[58][59] On October 10, 2012, the Daredevil film rights reverted to Marvel Studios, which was confirmed by studio president Kevin Feige on April 23, 2013.[60] On May 2, 2013, Feige confirmed in an interview that the Ghost Rider and Punisher rights had reverted to Marvel from Sony and Lions Gate respectively, as well as reaffirming the acquisition of the Blade rights.[61] It was later revealed in May 2013 that Marvel has also reacquired the Power Man rights from Columbia Pictures.[62] In an interview with Collider in early May 2013, Kevin Feige stated he believed the Elektra rights were back at Marvel through the Daredevil deal.[63] The only rights that are still left at other studios are the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchise of characters at 20th Century Fox, the Spider-Man franchise of characters at Sony/Columbia Pictures[64] and Namor at Universal Pictures. Namor's rights had previously been thought by Marvel CCO Joe Quesada in 2012, to have reverted to Marvel, but was revealed by Feige in August 2013 that this was not the case.[65]

Marvel Knights

See also: Marvel Knights

Named after corporate sibling Marvel Comics' imprint of the same name, Marvel Knights is also the name given to a production arm of Marvel Studios intended to be used to produce some of Marvel's darker and lesser known titles. The first film produced under the Marvel Knights banner was Punisher: War Zone, the 2008 release that rebooted the Punisher franchise. In 2012, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was the second title to be released under that banner.[citation needed]



Production library


For any animation created after 2000, see Marvel Animation.

Year(s) Series Production Distributor Original
Marvel Films
1992–1997 X-Men[8] Saban Entertainment Fox Kids
1994–1998 Spider-Man: The Animated Series Marvel Films Animation /Saban New World Communications
1996–1997 The Incredible Hulk New World Animation Saban Entertainment UPN
1994–1996 Fantastic Four New World Animation & Wang Films New World Communications The Marvel Action Hour
Iron Man New World Animation & Rainbow Animation Group & Koko
Marvel Studios
1998 Silver Surfer Saban Entertainment Fox Kids
1999–2001 Spider-Man Unlimited
1999–2000 The Avengers: United They Stand

Live action TV

For any live action TV series created after 2009, see Marvel Television.

Series Aired Production Distributor Original
Mutant X October 6, 2001 – May 17, 2004 Fireworks Entertainment
Tribune Entertainment
Marvel Studios
Marvel Enterprise
CanWest Global Communications
Blade: The Series June 28, 2006 – September 13, 2006 Phantom Four
New Line Television
Marvel Entertainment Spike



Year Film Directed by Written by Production by Budget Gross
1998 Blade Stephen Norrington David S. Goyer New Line Cinema $45 million $131,183,530
2000 X-Men Bryan Singer Story by Tom DeSanto & Bryan Singer
Screenplay by David Hayter
20th Century Fox $75 million $296,339,527
2002 Blade II Guillermo del Toro David S. Goyer New Line Cinema $54 million $155,010,032
Spider-Man Sam Raimi David Koepp Columbia Pictures $140 million $821,708,551
2003 Daredevil Mark Steven Johnson 20th Century Fox $78 million $179,179,718
X2 Bryan Singer Story by Zak Penn and David Hayter & Bryan Singer
Screenplay by Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris and David Hayter
$110 million $407,711,549
Hulk Ang Lee Story by James Schamus
Screenplay by John Turman and Michael France and James Schamus
Universal Pictures $137 million $245,360,480
2004 The Punisher Jonathan Hensleigh Jonathan Hensleigh and Michael France Artisan Entertainment
$15.5 million $54,700,105
Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi Story by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Michael Chabon
Screenplay by Alvin Sargent
Columbia $200 million $783,766,341
Blade: Trinity David S. Goyer New Line $65 million $128,905,366
2005 Elektra Rob Bowman Zak Penn and Stuart Zicherman & Raven Metzner Fox $43 million $56,681,566
Man-Thing Brett Leonard Hans Rodionoff Lionsgate N/A
Fantastic Four Tim Story Mark Frost and Michael France Fox $100 million $330,579,719
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand Brett Ratner Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn $210 million $459,359,555
2007 Ghost Rider Mark Steven Johnson Columbia $110 million $228,738,393
Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi Screenplay by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent
Story by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
$258 million $890,871,626
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Tim Story Screenplay by Don Payne and Mark Frost
Story by John Turman and Mark Frost
Fox $130 million $289,047,763
2008 Punisher: War Zone Lexi Alexander Nick Santora and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway Lionsgate $35 million $10,100,036
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Gavin Hood David Benioff and Skip Woods Fox $150 million $373,062,864
2011 X-Men: First Class Matthew Vaughn Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer
$140–160 million $353,624,124
2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor Screenplay by Scott M. Gimple and Seth Hoffman & David S. Goyer
Story by David S. Goyer
Columbia $57 million $122,299,048
The Amazing Spider-Man Marc Webb Screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent & Steve Kloves
Story by James Vanderbilt
Columbia $230 million $751,951,848
2013 The Wolverine James Mangold Christopher McQuarrie and Mark Bomback Fox $120 million $351,708,882
Upcoming films Status
2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2[75] Marc Webb Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner
Story by James Vanderbilt
Columbia Post-production
X-Men: Days of Future Past Bryan Singer Screenplay by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman & Simon Kinberg
Story by Bryan Singer
2015 The Fantastic Four Josh Trank Jeremy Slater, Seth Grahame-Smith and T.S. Nowlin & Simon Kinberg Fox In development
2016 Untitled The Amazing Spider-Man sequels TBD TBD Columbia


See also: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Year Film Directed by Written by Distributor Budget Gross
2008 Iron Man Jon Favreau Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway Paramount Pictures1 $140 million $585,174,222
The Incredible Hulk Louis Leterrier Zak Penn Universal Pictures $150 million $263,427,551
2010 Iron Man 2 Jon Favreau Justin Theroux Paramount1 $200 million $623,933,331
2011 Thor Kenneth Branagh Story: J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich
Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz & Don Payne
$150 million $449,300,000
Captain America: The First Avenger Joe Johnston Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely $140 million $368,608,363
2012 Marvel's The Avengers Joss Whedon Story: Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures2 $220 million $1,511,757,910
2013 Iron Man 3 Shane Black Drew Pearce and Shane Black $200 million $1,214,343,923
2013 Thor: The Dark World Alan Taylor Story: Don Payne and Robert Rodat
Screenplay: Christopher Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures $170 million $504,240,829
Upcoming films Status
2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier Anthony and Joe Russo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Post-production
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn Story: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Screenplay: James Gunn
2015 Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron Joss Whedon Pre-production
Ant-Man Edgar Wright Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish


  1. ^ In July 2013, the distribution rights to these films were transferred from Paramount Pictures to The Walt Disney Studios.[54][55][56]
  2. ^ As part of the deal transferring the distribution rights of Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures to the The Walt Disney Studios,[49] Paramount's logo appears in the films' promotional materials and merchandise.[76] Nevertheless, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is credited at the end of these films.[77]

See also


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