Now, I’m not going to say that Millar and Bendis sell Ice cream, they’d been working in comics for awhile at that point and wouldn’t fold.
Would Marvel get their act together?
I’m not sure what the date of the first sale of movie rights was, but I could see them being bought wholesale by Disney or say, Fox.
Would a new company emerge?
I believe Marvel would still be there, but their new owners would want to keep the classics classic, thinking they’re making the fans happy by ending the old series and attempting to reboot them in a more, TV and movie friendly manner. Not that their current shows aren’t hits, but the casual fan runs on the assumption that the shows are following the series when they’re inspired by them.
In this alternative reality, Marvel’s new daddy and mommy would do their best to make what would become the Ultimate Universe the main and only universe, launching movies and TV shows that match. Due to the popularity of Blade at the time, I could see blade being a leading member of their Universe. As for other characters, the X-men, Spider-Man, Hulk have always been big names with big appeal. Now, as for say, Iron Man, Cap and other Avengers. I can only see one of them making it in this marvel, and it would be a Futurama esque debut for Cap, as he’s thawed in the year 2000.
I know this doesn’t sound good, but this is all speculation from one person, thinking as he’s typing, trying to fit things in off memory.
Would comics start to die?
Accoring to people who report on comics they’re always dying.
Would Vertigo become the norm?
I would hope. It would certainly aid DC in beating out Marvel to the TV and movie world which they would hypothetically enter. This is in an era when Hollywood didn’t care at all about the source material. So, we could end up with Keanu Reeves like interpretations of Constantine and more slapshod Vertigo movies that may taint the landscape of their films.
Would Wildstorm take over?
I would like to say yes. That with Marvel doing a hard reboot, most fans would generate towards Image, Wildstorm, Top Cow, Dark Horse, Vertigo and the indy boom would come sooner. Cultivating talent that would then move on to Marvel and DC, who have a streamlined and brand new universe open for interpretation.
Basically, my answer is, things would be kind of the same as they are now, just with Marvel having a matching comics/tv/movie world where the stories intersect as fans want for some reason. DC would put all its TV/Movie efforts into the creative minds at Vertigo, who would do their best battling against Hollywood think their stories aren’t good enough as is. Indy comics would flourish, giving new readers more depth and breath of choices in the mainstream, making comics not just capes to the eyes of the casual. And, as always, people would say that sales would be down and the industry would be doomed.