We know Sony must regret this one.
Wall Street Journal reports that 20 years ago, Sony had the chance to buy the rights to several Marvel characters including Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and Black Panther for $25 million. They said no.
Back in 1998, Sony was in the midst of trying to obtain the rights to Spider-Man when Marvel counter-offered with the aforementioned heroes. But when Sony Pictures executive Yair Landau went to his bosses with the deal, they were not impressed. "Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters," Landau recalled them telling him. "Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man." Sony later bought Spider-Man for $10 million (and 5% of any movies' gross revenue and half the revenue from consumer products) and created a noteworthy trilogy with Tobey Maguire and an okay reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield, before teaming up with Marvel for Spider-Man: Homecoming with Tom Holland.
In Sony's defense, Landau's bosses weren't completely wrong. At that time Spider-Man remained one of the most popular superheroes while Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and Black Panther were less known—the latter two nearly unknown at times—outside of the world of comic book geeks. Until Marvel started their cinematic universe and made even overlooked characters like Vision and the Wasp enticing to a worldwide audience.
But in the end, all things happen for a reason, right? With Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney in a possible buyout deal for 21st Century Fox to bring the X-Men to the MCU, we'd say it all ended for the best.