Disney and Marvel Studios are killing it so much in the superhero genre right now, pumping out three movies a year to critical and commercial success, while their rivals Fox and Sony have struggled, despite owning the comic publisher's premier franchises.
Things could have been very different, however, if the deals made back in the 1990s went another way.
As you might know already, Marvel (the entire company) was on the verge of bankruptcy, and to keep its head above water, it sold off the film rights to its characters and intellectual properties – Sony got Spider-Man, Fox got Fantastic Four and X-Men, etc.
As revealed in new book The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies (and reported by the Wall Street Journal), it turns out that Sony could have owned the rights to nearly every big MCU hero.
Marvel's new boss at the time, Ike Perlmutter, offered Sony ownership of Black Panther, Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and more for the relatively cheap price of $25 million.
Sony's Yair Landau recalled the company's reaction: "Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man."
Bet they are kicking themselves now...
Of course, it's not a given that Sony would have turned the characters into the cultural behemoths that they are now. Marvel Studios took its time building towards an Avengers movie, and nailed the casting of its heroes.
Black Panther is currently in UK and US cinemas. You can read our review here, and watch a trailer below: