How Marvel Went From Near-Bankruptcy to Powerhouse Game-Changer for the Entire Movie Industry
Ruthless paydays for talent, megasized box office and creative domination.
In late 2004, New Line Cinema was gearing up to make Iron Man. David Hayter, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had turned in a script the studio liked, Nick Cassavetes was lined up to direct and a 2006 release was scheduled. Avi Arad, then Marvel Studios head and a longtime true believer in the comics company's potential, already had produced several films based on Marvel characters, including Spider-Man, Punisher, Hulk, Blade and Daredevil. As Marvel's chief creative officer -- he widely was considered its "heart and soul" -- Arad was confident he understood how to turn superheroes into movie stars. Still, he found himself in a galling creative dispute with New Line chairman and CEO Bob Shaye. Despite Arad's assurances and Iron Man's long history and fervent fan base, Shaye was convinced that no one would buy a guy flying around in a 3,000-pound metal suit. According to one studio head with knowledge of the discussions, Shaye's concerns went even deeper: "Bob didn't believe in Marvel as film producers."
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