First we got Dixar, now we’re looking down the barrel of Darvel. The long and short of it is that Disney is looking to buy Marvel for the low low price of $4 billion. There’s other details, but that’s pretty much what you need to know. Apart from the fact that, despite everyone acting like it takes effect this instant and is retroactive to the dawn of time (Marvel shareholders need to approve and there’s that whole anti-trust thing to deal with) it’s not yet. But it does look like it will happen.
And I have had the agog and aghast reactions from everybody and their brother Bob on this this morning. And I’m not one to be optimistic (for reference, please see…) but I will say that it’s not as bad as people might suggest. For one thing, this is the Disney machine but running with a Pixar engine. For those saying that Disney is still nothing but crap, Exhibit A: Bolt. For those saying Pixar has been blunted by the Disney thing, Exhibit 2: Up. So there is quality to be had. Will there still be some crap that leaks out? Sure, like with any studio. But Disney has me feeling pretty good about their intentions for the first time in a long time.
So rather than get into what this is on about–this New York Times article does a good job of handling that, I think–I’d like to point out some things that, at least in my mind, we can expect to happen.
Better Theme Park Presence. Not that I’m dying to have Marvel characters wandering around Disneyworld or anything, but they could at least do a better job than Islands of Adventure–see below.
That being said, the Marvel rides were awesome at IoA. The Hulk roller coaster is probably one of the best I’ve ever ridden. But that deal will lapse–and you know, Disney still has unused land in Florida…
What I would enjoy is…if you had a Darvel Theme Park, it was the 616 Universe Marvel most of the time and then on special occasions you could shift to God knows what. It’s Ulty Night at the park. If you’re going to use Many Worlds in the books, why not in the parks?
[ad#longpost]Better Comics. I know I’ve been a bit critical of Marvel in the past, and I know there are some good stories when they’re not busy, you know, having heroes beat up other heroes or whatever. (And my problems have been mostly of an editorial nature.) But say what you want, it’s not the sort of books you use to draw in a new generation of readers. I know you and I might have read them when we were kids, but remember: we didn’t have umpteen entertainment choices. Unless you lived in a major city, you probably had some version of this: three channels (before the advent of cable), two cinemas in town (first run and the dollar cinema), the arcade you couldn’t drive yourself to yet, and the comic shop you could beg a ride to once a week. Now kids don’t even have to leave their homes to watch first run movies–they can download it from their gaming system (oh, I forgot you probably had an Atari 2600, too). So Marvel books (and to be fair, DC–even moreso) can’t compete for the hearts and minds of children. As a result, the books have marginalized themselves for the aging fanboy (and to be fair, I’m in that demographic).
What does Disney bring to the table for this? Well, I don’t think they’ll tolerate that shit. Having a product that only appeals to a certain demographic that has been proven to appeal more broadly in the past–and can do so again, and thus make more money? I think they’ll eat that up. If you look at the Pixar way of thinking, their movies are good for everybody. And can work on multiple levels. And for those of you who like the grit, as Andy Diggle pointed out on Twitter, Disney has in their history given us Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and the like. Will this happen immediately? No. There’s the low-hanging fruit of merchandising to take advantage of.
Also, this also means the good news that Disney characters will undoubtedly return to comics following the end of Gemstone publishing the characters. In this article it was stated Disney was “looking for someone else to take the license.” Were they ever.
Movies and TV? Not really. Not for a while. Disney is playing the long game with this. All the existing deals will remain in effect. Which means Spidey stays at Sony, X-Men stays at Fox, and Paramount continues to distribute the existing Marvel Films release schedule. Makes me wonder where the other rights reside–although Marvel has no doubt been letting everything lapse to fall back into their jurisdiction even before this happened. But yes, eventually, you could have Marvel be a full-on Pixar-sized deal if it’s worked properly. With the added bonus of adding the animated series rights to whatever plans Disney has for their television stable. I’ll leave it to somebody like Tuffley to come in here and explain where the rights sit for the various TV stuff. Hell, we have something to talk about at our Make the Bad Men Stop panels at DragonCon now, that’s for damn sure.
What do you think? Terrified? Hopeful? Somewhere in between? Don’t give a damn? Let us know in the comments.