Disney Buys Marvel: A Fan’s Sober Look

Posted: September 1, 2009 in Comic Books
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“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Was my reaction this mornng when reading what undoubtly will be the comic book news of the decade.  Disney is in fact buying Marvel Comics, who have been on a roll this past year with it’s self produced films and more on the way, including 2012’s fanboy dream The Avengers. The internet has truly broken in half as concerns immediately arose of Disney meddling with Mighty Marvel characters.  In the 24 hours since this news broke fans already speculated of  Marvel getting kidified, canning or softening characters like Punisher and Wolverine, and stupid crossovers like Goofy in X-men. Although some concern is legitimate, lets think this through.

First of all, really, a Disney Executive is not going to walk into Marvel offices and make the Punisher go away, put the Disney logo on all comics, cancel the Max Line, or tone down Deadpool and Wolverine. Donald Duck is not going to appear in the Avengers movie, and Mickey Mouse is not going to magically appear in the Amazing Spiderman. Mickey isn’t even used much by Disney anymore. Even if someday there is a Spidey Mickey story, it would be a special book done to appeal to kids, and if you have a problem with that, come on.

Disney has already stated that the licensing agreements with with Fox for X-men and FF characters, and Sony Spidey characters will stay in place, as will the distribution deal with Paramount. (They will stay in place until said agreements expire at least, the Paramount deal is for 5 films) They see that Marvel has properly managed it’s characters to be profitable and are not going to mess with that.

Disney has no reason to worry about Marvel’s mature MAX line or any other edgier books. Take DC comics for example. Being owned by Warner Brothers does not stop them from publishing edgy/mature titles in their Vertigo line  or their Wildstorm imprint. It’s not like Marvel isn’t a corporation themselves who already balance Ghost Rider with something like the Marvel Adventures line.

On the film front, the self financed Marvel Studios films are not adult themed anyway. Even if they were, they will still be made under the Marvel banner, just as Pixar makes Up under the Pixar logo. The Disney logo is only used on real Disney family oriented products. If you look they actually own ABC, ESPN, Dimension films, Miramax, among many other holdings.

Mirimax’s film library is a good example of why not to worry about this deal. Let’s look at some of what they’ve made and/or distributed; both Crow movies, Kill Bill 1 and 2, Pulp Fiction, Halloween 6,  3 Helllraiser movies; (Bloodlines, Inferno, and Deader) Clerks, Dogma, and Trainspotting. If Disney money went to Pinhead and Michael Meyers, I wouldn’t worry about Iron Man and the Hulk.

Plus look at the upside. Disney is a juggernaught of liscencing and distribution, which Marvel can take advantage of. Plus representatives from Marvel have already met with Pixar. Disney CEO Bob Iger says;

“We actually have had some conversations internally, and John Lasseter (from Pixar) met with some of the key Marvel creative executives fairly recently and the group got very excited pretty fast…..We had to say, ‘slow down guys, we haven’t done this deal yet…you can put a lot of creative, enthusiastic people in a room that can appreciate the value of great characters and interesting worlds, a lot can happen… sparks can fly.”

Imagine a Pixar Fantastic Four film, and I’m not even an FF fan.

Will there be Disney comics, probably. But why should Mickey Mouse comics bother anyone? So what if there’s a Hannah Montana comic, if you don’t like it don’t buy it.

(On a related note I wonder will Gargoyles or Tron come into the Marvel Universe, and will there be a revival of Crossgen, the comic company Disney bought years ago? What about Marvel characters in a Kindgom Hearts game)

One question is what will happen to the Marvel rides at Universal Studios. Time will tell.

What was so neat about Marvel was their autonomy as a company, which is why I, and many others, had the reaction we did. (Plus when I was 22 I hated Disney) It could have been worse, it could have been DC buying them. I would have hated that. My nerd dream was for Marvel to buy DC.

Let’s not be stupid fanboys about this. Disney is not dumb. They are not going to spend 4 billion dollars on a growing company and change the formula that made it work.

So until the Punisher sings a duet with Minnie Mouse, make mine Marvel!

An investor call session about the deal can be heard at

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=129198&p=irol-eventDetails&EventId=2413571

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