ByWilliam Avitt, writer at

Whatever your feelings are on Michael Jackson, there are two things that are undeniable: 1. He was an amazing dancer and 2. He was bat crap crazy. Those two things are just facts. When you live in the public spotlight for literally your entire life, like Michael did, there are very few things that the public doesn't know about you, even when you try to deny them. Here's an interesting fact that you might not know about Michael Jackson, back in the 1990s the King of Pop seriously tried to buy Marvel Comics. Michael Jackson was a great businessman, as well as being a great onstage talent. He had already bought the copyrights to The Beatles' music catalogue, undercutting then-friend Paul McCartney (which is why they aren't friends anymore), so it makes sense that Michael would see Marvel struggling and want to help keep them alive, since he so loved comic books and superheroes, and make a ton of money in the process. Unfortunately, that wasn't why he did it.

Michael Jackson will always be remembered as an 80s icon, but the truth is that while most of his hits came out in the 1980s, Michael Jackson was still at the height of his popularity in the mid-90s. During this time, with the success of Batman in cinemas and the failures of absolutely everything Marvel was trying to do at the time (outside of animation), Marvel was trying to get Spider-Man and X-Men projects underway. For Spider-Man, they were talking to director James Cameron and, apparently, Michael Jackson wanted to be cast as the title role.

Apparently, Michael Jackson was not a stupid man. He knew that probably the only way he was ever going to be cast to play the webslinger would be to buy Marvel Comics, who was facing bankruptcy at this time anyway, and that way he would be in a position to make those casting decisions. What he seemed to not understand, however, was that the director and studio get to make those decisions, not the person licensing the property to the film studio. Of course, I'm sure had this happened, Jackson would have made sure he was directing the movie too, I suppose. I don't really know what he was thinking. As we have already established, the man was bat crap crazy. At any rate, Michael Jackson quickly began a relationship with Stan Lee Media that he felt would allow him to get in the door and buy Marvel Comics with his endgame being that he would get to play Spider-Man.

Jackson wasn't the first person to try to buy Marvel Comics, not by a long shot. Stan Lee Media was born out of a coup between Stan Lee and a business partner to buy Marvel outright, after a new CEO had basically screwed Stan Lee out of everything he had negotiated with Marvel over the years, including a life-time salary in exchange for Lee making no legal claim of ownership of the characters he had created. This is why Stan Lee Media, who Stan Lee no longer has any affiliation with, seems to think they can make legal claims to Stan's characters, arguing that Stan's contract with Marvel was terminated, along with the stipulation that he couldn't sue them for ownership, and that they now have a contract with Lee giving them ownership. But that's a messed up story for another time. This story is about Michael Jackson.

Michael went to Stan Lee thinking Stan could secure him and his new production company, Kingdom Entertainment, the rights to produce a Spider-Man movie. According to Lee:

“Michael and I had met a number of times […] He wanted to do Spider-Man. I’m not sure whether he just wanted to produce it or wanted to play the role. He thought I’d be the one who could get him the rights to make a Spider-Man movie, and I told him I couldn’t. He would have to go to the Marvel company.”

So Jackson did exactly that, after securing a promise from Stan Lee that if he bought Marvel Comics that Lee would help him run it. Jackson hired a financial firm to help with the negotiations, however, since there had been bad blood between Toy Biz (then-owner of Marvel) CEO Ike Perlmutter and Stan Lee, Perlmutter wasn't about to allow Stan Lee, using Michael Jackson as a frontman, to take over Marvel and escalated the price to $1B, far more than Marvel was worth at the time. Eventually, Jackson had to walk away. Toy Biz held on to Marvel for another decade or so and eventually sold to Disney for over $4B, which was still about 30% more than what the company was valued at.

An interesting side note, apparently Michael Jackson had lobbied pretty hard to be able to play Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies, a role that eventually went to Patrick Stewart who was the everybody's first and only choice to play that role in the first place. There is a happy ending to Michael Jackson's quest to be in a Marvel Comics movie, sort of. Michael Jackson did get to cameo as himself in Men in Black 2, campaigning to be made an official MiB agent, "I could be Agent M."


Would you like to have seen Jacko in Marvel films?


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