Marvel and Disney, sitting in a tree: What does that mean for you and me?

disney-buys-marvel_lIn case you hadn’t heard the news that pierced the geekosphere this morning, like Cyclops’ eye-beam through the fog, Disney is in the process of acquiring Marvel Entertainment for something like $4 billion. Details are only beginning to come out regarding the specifics of the deal — What will this mean for characters like Spider-Man (which calls Sony his movie home) and Iron Man (set up at Paramount)? Will this affect the comic licenses that Disney has granted to Boom! Studios for Pixar’s Cars and The Incredibles, as well as The Muppets? — so it’s a little early to start making judgments on the wisdom of said deal. But I hope it changes Marvel Comics in one simple way: Diversification.

Marvel Comics, with few exceptions, publishes superhero comics. That’s their bread and butter, and it has worked incredibly well for them over the years. Their stable is full of some of the most recognizable characters on the planet: Spidey, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Punisher, Captain America, Thor, and so on. That roster is deep — Marvel has been publishing books for seven decades — but it’s mostly made of superheroes. And the public at large has never heard of a decent chunk of them. So, from a movie studio’s perspective, you want a more varied well to draw from, in the same way that Warner Bros. can have their Bat-franchise from DC Comics proper, but still pluck V for Vendetta, A History of Violence, and Constantine from Vertigo.

As a reader, I’m all for new stories, new voices, new ways to engage. I’d love to see Marvel expand their editorial purview, taking a page from their own Icon playbook — Marvel’s creator-owned line that puts out Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers, and Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass — and let their talent stretch beyond the superpowered. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mouse slips that note into the corporate suggestion box.

Does this merger excite you, tantalize you with it’s possibilities, or does this kind of corporate consolidation fill you with a sense of dread?

PHOTO CREDIT: Industrial Light and Magic

Comments (129 total) Add your comment
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  • Snarf

    Actually I think it’s a good thing, since ABC, the Muppets, and Pixar (?) are owned by Disney with little interference.

  • Rick

    I agree with Snarf. Disney gives Pixar complete autonomy when it comes to running their own show, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t do the same for a proven brand like Marvel. Also, just imagine a Silver Surfer animated feature by Pixar or any countless projects Marvel could do with Disney-backing. I was nervous about this announcemnt, but I’ll remain positive.

  • Wendy

    Coming soon: Kermit, Mike Waszowski and the Incredible Hulk singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green”.

    • Bill

      MIKE WASZOWSKI!!!!

    • frostysnowman

      LOL!!!!

    • gigi

      Awesome!!

    • Nick Fury

      T_T
      Why must you make me cry…?
      Also, this already exists. It fiendish name is…:
      Hokey Pokey Hulk. He is friends with Itsy Bitsy Spiderman. Look it up and sob.

    • james

      you make me laugh ; )

  • harry

    they better not dumb it down for the kiddys. they better keep it real for the fan boys!

  • felix

    I for one am worried. I have the sinking suspicion that Disney (eventually) while try to tone down the counterculture elements of Marvel (see early X-Men) that have made it so unique and well Marvel. THis does not bode well for geekdom.

  • Mark Powell

    I think Disney hit a home run with this one. They are finally looking at long term gains. This will let them build another park in the near future to compete with the teen-driven Universal Studios instead of just focusing on the kiddos. The most recognized superheros are Marvels, so the movies with theme park rides and characters and the like are endless.

    • Vinnie

      While Marvel’s heroes are certainly the more popular heroes these days, there is no way they are the most recognized super heroes. Worldwide, Superman and Batman (DC) easily have that distinction nailed down.

  • matt

    Definetly sense of dread.

    • Bill

      The Horror……..

    • alex clark

      are you fuckin kedding me every one in my school hates fuckin disney and theirs about 1000 kids in my school

  • Shasta

    So Disneyland/World will have the rights to the Marvel characters? Just wondering because aren’t there characters like Spiderman at Universal Studios?

    • Jojoh

      Island of Adventures park from Universal has a complete section of the park related to Marvel comics,they have the Incredible Hulk roller Coaster and the SpiderMan 3D ride.
      I guess they’re gonna have to rethemed that part of the park….

  • jake

    I know the fanboys are going crazy… not really sure why. Disney owns a ton of companies (ESPN, ABC, Pixar, etc.) and stays out of their way. Apparently there’s no effect on any existing film deals (so we could look forward to more ‘Wolverine’ movies from Fox!). The only thing that will be effected in the end will be Disney’s pockets.

    • Moxx

      Disney owns Miramax. Brokeback Mountain, any Tarantino film, anyone? I think they’ll keep their distance as long as it’s profitable to do so.

    • Mike

      Yeah they do own them and the Disney policies have been evident in those products as well, which is the dread of the “fanboy”. The anti-gay, straight & narrow tween loving Hannah Montana pushing beast will water down and neuter something “fanboys” have come to enjoy…And if you want to go further look at the Wienstiens leaving because of the Disney influence..

      • Sketchee

        Mike: Anti-gay? Disney has one of the most liberal homosexual friendly policies of any company. As a company, they recognize gay marriages and heavily promote gay themed days at their theme parks. It’s been a big controversy with the general public since the big 90s. Let’s keep our (rightful) fears and reservations about Disney’s ownership of marvel grounded.

  • ratfink

    Given by how lousy the direction of their comics have been going — Civil War stunk and Spider-Man… what have they done to ya, pal?! — I can only take this as a good thing. Maybe Disney will make them get their act together.

    • Moxx

      Civil War stunk? On what grounds? You must be a Heroes Reborn fan.

      • Nick Fury

        lol yeah.
        Go Civil War! XD

      • S.E.

        I still think Iron Man’s Reborn armor is one of his best. Otherwise, just another attempt at revenue generation.

    • paige

      yea I’m definately not on your side with that one

    • Ryan

      Spider-man is now as good as he has ever been in the comic book. Love Brand New Day and on ward.

  • WhyDread

    Not sure why some ppl think Disney will take Marvel franchise and make them kid friendly? That would be bad business.

    Disney after is behind Pulp Fiction and other gorey and adult flicks and content; ESPN.

    • Twice

      Except they’re not packaging ESPN, Constantine, Brokeback Mountain, and Pulp Fiction and other Tarantino flicks for sale to children, which is exactly what they’re going to be doing with Marvel characters. I never expected to see Bill and The Bride action figures lurking on the shelves of my nearest Disney store, but you can bet your hind-end that that’s where Spidey and Iron Man and the Cap are going to be heading before long, and that’s where it gets ugly. They’re not going to be able to please the mommies of America by selling dolls and lunch boxes and pajamas featuring a rampaging Punisher to their precious little boys and allow him to keep killing every mafioso in sight. DC can do that, WB can do that, Fox can do that, but Disney- oh, no, Disney can’t do that. It’s not cuddly, and Disney is cuddly at all costs.
      If they’re packaging Marvel characters for kids, then you can say goodbye to gore and murder and sex, and what the hell is Disney if not a merchandising whore?

      • Brent G

        Yeah, because Marvel Adventures isn’t Marvel doing exactly that? Appealing to kiddies?

        Heck, a little lightening up is needed in both mainstream universes what with Dark Reign, Final Crisis and the current Blackest Night stories.

  • lola

    Well, let us begin with the fact taht Universal Studios themeparks in Orlando are Crapping Bricks. This will end up in either 1) them paying royalties to their competitor; or 2) facing a potential cease and desist letter. That knocks out about half their islands of adventure park, btw.

    • Mark

      Actually, Marvel Superheroland is under contract for another decade. Universal is just not allowed to add anything new now. And they also have Hogwarts opening up next year. So, no royalties because it is an existing contract and no cease and desist because of same. And they arent crapping bricks. They have been making steady inroads to Disney for years. I should know I work there.

  • AshleyG

    I agree with ratfink* I think this is a smart move on Disney’s part and I don’t think they will start doing Marvel stuff at the parks, who wants to see Sleeping Beauty and Spidey together. Disney is smart about how to keep all their companies seperated and sucessful at the same time.

  • I-Man

    Possibly one of the reasons why Marvel Fans are cringing at this is the same resons Gamers cringed when Disney Teamed up with SquareEnix for Kingdom Hearts. You’re mixing a serious and sometime mature universe with the kiddie like universe of Disney. I doubt that will happen, maybe it will never happen in Marvel but the thought of Disney and Marvel in the same sentence is cringworthy. Can anyone say Marvel presents Disney Zombies?

    • Jen from South Jersey

      Possible fanboy backlash aside, Kingdom Hearts was a well made game that was popular. Yeah, lots of people cringed at first, but in the end it worked out, so the success of the end result should count for something. That doesn’t mean I expect crazy crossovers of that type in this case, but it’s possible to do Kingdom Hearts-like projects without negatively affecting the other non-crossover projects.

    • Nick Fury

      Okay, I rofl’d at that Disney Zombies bit.

      Jen, look at Kingdom Hearts now: Garbage. There may be one or two good games, but it’ll sink. And it’ll sink HARD.

  • KC

    Pixar making Marvel movies? Cool beans! They’ll be proving their worth with live-action films in a couple of years with their John Carter of Mars adaptation!

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