The True Story Behind WWE's Deal With Marvel

Hulk Hogan effectively funded the birth of the MCU.

Even about 900 movies deep into the multifarious phases of the MCU, the tendrilous franchise shows no signs of slowing down, perpetually appealing as a recontextualised nostalgia dose to the older generation, whilst eminently accessible and crucially cool to their descendants. In contrast, the spandexed superheroes of WWE have never been less important to the zeitgeist. It's an almost complete reversal of the situation some twenty years back, and the reason why Vince's lot will jump on any opportunity to latch their wagon onto the neverending comic book juggernaut - as infrequent as they may be.

When you think of WWE's association with Marvel Comics in 2019, your mind probably drifts in the direction of Dave 'Drax the Destroyer' Bautista, and in particular the company's often desperate, nakedly transparent attempts to cash in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star's mainstream success outwith their own limited scope.

Simple fact is, 'Big' Dave would still be 'Little' Dave in terms of widespread fame had he not abandoned the confines of WWE's specifically restrictive machine - his original split from Stamford came about when his employers embargoed outside projects. The cultural currency he's accrued under his own steam has proved a blessing so long as he's retained any interest in a sport he long since outgrew.

With defeat to Triple H at this year's WrestleMania seemingly dropping the curtain on the 50-year-old's in-ring career, WWE will henceforth have to rely on the legitimate relevance of some other wrestler-cum-comic crossover for their annual attempts to piggyback on the true pulse of popular culture.

This might be the reason why, if it's not sheer ignorance on the part of the owner, the likes of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are allowed to don the colours of opposing comic capers during their NXT rivalry, or why nobody stops Rey Mysterio paying frequent homage to his pen-and-ink heroes. That WWE haven't ordered against their stars promoting a rival brand of entertainment is not insignificant. It's an indirect way of the company saying, "hey, look, we're cool too. Honest!"

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Editorial Team
Editorial Team

Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, old-school adventure games (they're not dead), and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know). He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.