Caped suits and fresh fruits colored in the week that was.

Marvel Man, Marvel Man, does whatever a marvel can
Like one of its superheroes seemingly overpowered by an archnemesis, you just knew that Marvel (NYSE:MVL) was going to find a way to come out ahead in the end. It did, with fourth-quarter earnings more than doubling as the company continues to cash in on the juicy licensing deals stemming from its rich portfolio of characters. Marvel is milking its library of characters, and it's working. Movie studios are gobbling up film rights, and merchandising deals are proliferating.

For instance, you may already know that the company's Fantastic Four comic book series will be coming to the big screen this summer, but are you aware that an animated cartoon series is ready to come out next year, or that Marvel stands to make $80 million in toy sales this year as a result of the film's theatrical run?

Yes, the same company that has birthed the big-screen incarnation of Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Hulk still has even more goodies -- and baddies -- in the pipeline. Though it is expecting earnings to come in flat this year with the $1.10 per share showing it mustered in 2004, it has Spider-Man 3 coming out in 2007 and is in development deals with more of its characters, including Captain America, Thor, and Silver Surfer.

The stock, singled out a couple of years ago in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has done well, but I am reminded of the advice that Ben Parker doled out to his nephew with the Spidey sense: "With great power comes great responsibility." Marvel has to make sure that it allocates its characters into enriching deals. It has lost that battle sometimes -- think Elektra, Blade: Trinity, and even The Hulk -- but it has always found a way to dust itself off and rise above.

Warren Buffett loves to write what people love to read
It was the time of year when Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) (NYSE:BRKb) releases its annual report -- all 82 pages of it. And once again, investors seemed to be dazzled by the wit and humility that Warren Buffett always seems to weave into its first few pages. His letter to shareholders is usually a treat, and this year's version didn't disappoint. Buffett seemed apologetic for not finding more buying opportunities for the $43 billion burning a hole in Berkshire's coffers.

He claims he struck out, though a more fitting baseball analogy would have been that he took a walk -- or perhaps struck out looking -- because not taking a swing when he feels that valuations have gotten ahead of themselves is not much of a crime these days. Berkshire's portfolio of subsidiaries and investments -- eclectic only on the surface -- works. His returns have lagged behind the market over the past two years, but it has trounced the competition over the decades. Buffett called his results "lackluster," but when you get down to it, lacking luster isn't really much of an insult.

Before you know it, even Grimace is going to be redrawn into a slimmer purple body
These are lean times at McDonald's (NYSE:MCD). No, the world's largest restaurant chain is doing just fine financially. I'm talking about the fast-food specialist's recent emphasis on pitching its healthier menu items. Maybe this would have happened even without the hard-hitting Super Size Me documentary or the wave of "McDonald's made me fat" lawsuits, but it's clear that the company is doing what it can to polish off its golden arches before they get tarnished.

With star athletes on hand -- as well as the always creepy Ronald McDonald clown -- the company launched its healthier menu line. Although Mickey D's always tends to do things with a big splash (and I should point out that the sizzle you hear after the splash is now the result of healthier frying oils), it's just been copying whatever Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) has been doing over the past few years. Maybe dumbing this down to a game of "Wendy Says" is unfair to McDonald's, but it should be noted that while the company is busy shaving points off the average fat content on its illuminated menu, many smaller fast-food rivals like Sonic (NASDAQ:SONC) and Hardee's parent CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR) are taking advantage of the situation by selling a ton of the stuff that's bad for you.

There may be a lesson in there -- perhaps even a moral one -- but I'm not willing to stand up before the class to teach it.

Want to read more about the stories that rocked the week that was?

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't own any of the companies mentioned in this story, although he wonders whether he has superpowers that he just hasn't gotten around to discovering yet. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.