A company that continued to thrive through the '60s, '70s, and 80's due to the art and intrigue of the Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man comics, fell in the early '90s because of many questionable business deals.
Ron Perelman spent $82.5 million dollars on the Marvel Entertainment Group. Within two years of his buyout of Marvel, he spent a reported $700 million on shares in a company called ToyBiz, a couple of trading card companies, Panini stickers, and a distribution outfit, Heroes World.
Through the early '90s, it seemed as though Marvel was on the path to great success with Spider-Man and X-Men, both selling in huge numbers.
Between 1993 and 1996, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Sales of comics plummeted 70% by 1996. By 1995, Marvel Entertainment was in severe debt, causing Perelman to scramble. He started Marvel Studios in hopes of bringing the characters to life and attract a wider audience. Shareholders resisted because of the already shambled company. In order to go on with his venture, he had to file for bankruptcy.
During a lengthy court case, Perelman and his nemesis Icahn were both forced out of Marvel. "They'd been pushed out by two ToyBiz executives who'd been on Marvel's board since 1993: Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad."
They both went through long struggles of convincing the big wigs in Hollywood to accept the value of the Marvel movies. But when the value was realized years later, Marvel Studios took off. Kicking things off was the movie Blade, grossing $70 million. Eventually, Marvel Studios sold to Disney in 2009 for $4.3 billion.
A company that just 20 years ago was in debt, now creates billion-dollar movies in The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Black Panther.
A common theme of underdog stories is the unwillingness to quit and perseverance through hardships. It could've been easy for Perelman and the subsequent executives to give up on the "great idea" they had for Marvel, but they believed in what they were passionate about and found a way to succeed. If there's no passion, there's no purpose.