Marvel comics on December 27, 1996 filed for bankruptcy. Marvel had sold many properties for potential movie and TV deals that would make money such as Blade, Spider-Man, and The X-Men way cheaper than they should have been sold for, just to stay a float. In 2005, Marvel decided to finally start making their own movies instead of selling their properties, taking out a huge loan based on certain characters performing well at the box office… or they would loose those characters… 2008’s Iron Man btw was not one of those characters in the deal. They were then bought in 2009 by Disney.
11 years after the first movie in the cinematic universe, Captain Marvel comes to theater today, and there are rumors that Marvel may stop producing their own comics. I mention this to point out the fact that during this cinematic growth period, Marvel did not actually make their comics stronger.
X-Men, in the 90’s, was way more popular than Iron Man and all of The Avengers, especially after the super popular Fox Kids cartoon show during 1992-1997. Shortly after Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie in 2000, Marvel started really cracking down on toys and comics of the things that they had licensed out. X-Men were huge, but no toy line based on the movies. Fantastic Four was hitting theaters and their comic kept suffering and then completely went away. Meanwhile, a lot of characters who were introduced were just now allowed to be Mutants as once they were, they would be owned by FOX and be able to have a movie under them. Marvel REFUSED to help Fox be a success and retain the rights to their properties.
Sam Rami’s 2002’s Spider-Man was also huge, and thankfully Marvel really couldn’t ruin it. Weird stuff did come out though that either killed him or radically changed him in ways the movies wouldn’t go. The Other, Civil War, etc. You can’t have Iron Man be Spider-Man’s best friend with The Iron Spider-Man costume without Iron Man… which they did do in the later Marvel controlled Spider-Man movies.
Meanwhile, Marvel has embraced women and people of color into their comics while alienating some by having them as characters who take on the mantle of already established characters. Oh, and they made Iceman sort of gay and made Ms. Marvel Captain Marvel and not wear a leotard anymore at the same time.
Marvel tried many gimmicks, such as bringing over Japanese talent because anime and manga were popular, as well as continuing to do all of their major events such as Civil War, Secret Invasion, etc… which might be good graphic novels, but who wants to buy every comic to read one story? That, on top of already having people who were against jumping into comics because they felt that they needed to know at least the last 15 years of comic history just to jump into a #1… which there were many #1’s every month… somehow.
This all brings me to my main point… Why would anyone want to read a Marvel comic, coming off of The Marvel Cinematic Universe? Unlike the popular and mostly faithful X-Men cartoon of the 1990’s, what they see doesn’t actually look or feel like what is in the comics. When they changed things in the comics, I do not know if many people came over to read the comics, but I do know that it alienated people who had been their loyal fans… and that really sucks.
So no, the current trend of changing characters such as Blink from Exiles from being Asian into being Black, or having a new Korean Hulk isn’t what caused Marvel Comics to be in this state, nor is it constantly pushing the Ms. Marvel into being the feminist icon she was never originally designed to be… but it all might be the final nail in the coffin that Marvel, and to some extent the main stream comic industry at large, has built for themselves since the end of the 90’s and the start of the 2000’s.