Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America have new owners after the Walt Disney Co said it had agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment in a stock and cash transaction worth $4bn based on $50 per Marvel share.

The deal brings more than 5,000 Marvel characters into the Disney fold. Speaking on CNBC on Monday morning, Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said he saw value in bringing a number of lesser known superheroes to the big screen.

In an investor call, Iger intimated that over time it would be cost effective to bring all distribution in-house once Marvel’s licensing deals expire.

Paramount issued a statement saying the acquisition would not affect its plans to release Iron Man 2 in summer 2010, followed by Thor and Captain America in 2001,and The Avengers and Iron Man 3 in 2012. Marvel also has licensing deals with Sony and Fox for the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men properties.

The high valuation represents a near 30% premium over Marvel’s $38.65 share closing price on Friday. Marvel shareholders will receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is subject to antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximises the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” Iger said.

“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter said. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organisation and infrastructure around the world.”

In a statement Stan Lee, the chairman emeritus of Marvel Medi and founder of POW! Entertainment, said: “I couldn’t be happier with this agreement. It’s great move for Disney, for Marvel and for my company Pow! Entertainment since Pow! has a first-look deal with Disney. From every possible point of view, the merger of Disney and Marvel is a match made in Heaven.”