Marvel Is Taking Over Disney -- and That's a Good Thing

Marvel is suddenly the most important studio in Disney's portfolio, and that creates opportunities to create value for years to come.

Jan 10, 2014 at 4:04PM

When Disney (NYSE:DIS) agreed to pay $4 billion for Marvel in 2009, it was a steep price for a studio with little filmmaking experience. A few years later, the vision for Marvel predicted by Disney CEO Bob Iger is playing out and the studio is becoming the face of Disney.  

When you consider the success Marvel has had over the past few years, it's probably good that Disney is giving it such a prominent role, and it's only going to grow as Marvel's characters develop and new distribution outlets emerge.

Marvel takes over the box office
In the past two years; Marvel has come to dominate the box office for Disney. Iron Man 3 and The Avengers nearly doubled the second- and third-best performing films of the year, and both were tops at the box office overall for the year.

Disney Domestic Box Office

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place


Iron Man 3

$409.0 million


$289.4 million

Monsters University

$268.5 million


Marvel's The Avengers

$623.4 million


$237.3 million

Wreck-It Ralph

$189.4 million


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

$241.1 million

Cars 2

$191.5 million


$181.0 million

Source: Box Office Mojo.

What's important about this box office success is that Disney can translate it to more superhero films and TV shows in the future.

Spinoff season for Marvel
Agents of Shield is the first major Marvel spinoff to the small screen, and it has done well, ranking second behind the ever-popular NCIS on Tuesday nights on ABC, one of Disney's networks. The next spinoff from Marvel's box-office success will come on Netflix, which recently agreed to a deal that will bring series about Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage to its streaming service.

On the big screen, besides continuing with classic heroes like Thor and Captain America, Marvel is creating new opportunities to develop characters with Guardians of the Galaxy, due out this year. As time goes on, more of these spinoffs will pop up and Disney will find ways to create more value from a world of Marvel characters across a variety of platforms.  

How to build value, Disney style
What makes Marvel a phenomenal investment for Disney is that the characters will live on for years in a variety of ways.

Dis Marvel Image

Marvel merchandise now sits alongside Disney and Pixar goods at Disney stores. 

Not only does Disney own major television networks, in the last fiscal year the company generated more than twice as much revenue and more than five times as much operating income from parks and resorts as it did from studio entertainment. That's where Disney separates itself from the competition.

The key to drawing customers to these theme parks is having rides and characters that are popular. Mickey Mouse is no longer the draw he was when Disney World opened, but Iron Man or the Hulk walking about the park or helming a themed ride creates a new draw.  

Marvel is the future of Disney
Theme parks are where Disney can create long-lasting value for shareholders and it's why the company is so well positioned for the future of media. With strong characters from Marvel, Disney gets not only box-office success but also content to distribute through existing media networks and new streaming sources, as well as at theme parks. No other media company has that kind of cash-generation cycle, and Marvel is becoming the face of all of these businesses.

How Disney wins long-term
One of the reasons Marvel is so important is for the future of media. With cable's reign over consumers coming to an end, there's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it, but that won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers