In 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