9/09/2009

DIsney and Marvel: BFF

Last Monday, I went to check comics news as usual and like everyone else discovered, Disney acquired Marvel. I was pretty surprised, considering Boom Studios had just gotten the rights to publish Disney comics--including The Life and Times of Scrooge Mcduck and brand new serialized titles such as The Incredibles. What surprised me more, however, was the response from the internets: After the fun and games of “mash up” drawings and the clever “Face it Tigger, you hit the jackpot”, most responses were overly negative.

Disney may be a Theme Park giant and the maker of countless “family” films, but that doesn’t make them strictly family-friendly. They aren’t going to turn around and make Marvel stop publishing Punisher MAX, or other titles because they are adult-themed, that’s bad for business. It’s also part of the demographic Disney's missing out on, the adolescent to adult males--the “non-family” man.

Disney also owns Miramax, a film distribution company that made its reputation on Kevin Smith and Tarantino and still releases ultra-violent stuff like No Country For Old Men. They're smart and understand the necessity of separating brands. If indeed, Disney has some concern about content of Marvel comics and how it would reflect on their corporate name, it seems reasonable that they might just move even more stuff over to MAX or herd a bunch of books to Marvel Knights or something. If you recall, when Miramax aquired Larry Clark's controversial Kids and caught some flack for it, the chairs of Miramax, the Weinstein brothers just created a one-off production company and all was well.

And at this point, Disney is first and foremost a big, all-over-the-place corporation and in that sense, this isn't all that different from DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time/Warner. From it’s outside of nerd culture exposure, DC gains the success of the film like The Dark Knight (which grossed $1,001,921,825), and DC superhero-themed roller coasters and action shows at Six Flags theme parks everywhere. One of the comments about DC after Dark Knight's huge success was how they didn't seem ready or really able to fully cash-in. Marvel won't have this problem, as they're now not only backed by a corporate giant, but one very savvy in marketing youth-oriented product.

Marvel has just become part of a larger thing, something that will open doors, not close them. Pixar has had a great relationship with Disney that has worked out for both companies, and I imagine their relationship with Marvel will be similar. Disney needs to grab the male demographic, and this is their way. Marvel’s animated movie game needs to step it up, and Disney may help them with that. The point is, with all this speculating as to how Disney will ruin Marvel, let's at least do some positive though equally ungrounded speculation.

Taking female Marvel characters and marketing them to young girls through Disney Theme Parks and movies as strong, non-princess role models is a positive thing. I would love to see my sister reading comics about Storm leading the X-Men rather than another comic about Cinderella doing something cute with mice or Belle being saved be the Beast.

Pixar's Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, recently visited Marvel, which is a good sign for the future of both companies. Pixar’s The Incredibles still stands as one of the best superhero movies to date, I’d say even better than any of the X-Men and Spiderman films.

Nerds are defensive, strange creatures that easily get upset when their worlds are touched upon by something outside their realm of comfort. The House of Ideas becoming a part of the House of Mouse is scary and potentially could be extremely damaging to comics as we know them, but really, they are two companies that like to make money, and won’t do anything to prevent that--“Nuff’ said”.

7 comments:

samax said...

i couldn't agree more. i'm hoping that Disney will help Marvel grow up and learn to have real marketing plans that involve more than previews ads.

i'm one of those defensive nerds, but i am more concerned about the shrinking of the comics-purchasing public. my hope is that Disney's machine can get comics into more hands.

samuel rules said...

samax-

Yea, individual comics sales are down and that is going to kill the industry faster than Disney if it tried. I hesitated writing this post as a Marvelite for twenty years, but really, I'm PUMPED about this partnership, I'm so excited to see what will come of this and literally can't imagine it going THAT shitty, what's the worst case scenario? Marvel putting out Disney movie titles? Things I can ignore easily at comic shops? No problem.

Thanks for reading again dude.

david e. ford, jr said...

obviously we've talked about this a lot and pretty much are coming from the same place on this, but the recent announced shakeups of DC's relationship to its parent company shed some light on my understanding of the bizarre and highly unnecessary fan reactions to this acquisition. basically, regular comics readers immerse themselves in worlds where things are frequently not as they are presented and big powerful entities generally do not have the good of the world at heart. thus, when this super goliath company acquires this regular goliath company it can only be because the super goliath wants to kill the regular goliath. i realize this doesn't really make any sense, but, yeah, nice post, sammy.

-d

samuel rules said...

David-

No, you make perfect sense. It's like being PUNX and loving obscure bands, but hating Blink 182 for being this mainstream version of what you like, but accepting Iron Maiden, the biggest metal band of all time.

Here's this big long interview with Joe Q. from Marvel about the whole shindig, basically it just goes to show shit isn't going to go sour-

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=22872

Vee (Scratch) said...

"Pixar’s The Incredibles still stands as one of the best superhero movies to date, . . . "

Ditto. I really didn't think about that but yeah, the Incredibles was probably the best, although I really enjoyed X2 and Iron-man.
Marvel finally got something correct with the recent Punisher which was violently terrific.

Nothing much else to add here.

Camden said...

Taking female Marvel characters and marketing them to young girls through Disney Theme Parks and movies as strong, non-princess role models is a positive thing.

Just out of curiosity (and I realise I am about three weeks late on this post, sorry) but did Disney announce any goals after they acquired Marvel, or has there been mostly speculation? Obviously, it would rule to see female Marvel characters promoted as heavily as the Hannah Montana franchise, but mostly I just envision Hannah Montana comics.

samuel rules said...

Camden-

There's been a lot of internets talk about what Marvel and Disney have spoken about, but straight from the sources no plans have been made either way. They're both playing their cards carefully, making no promises but are dropping subtle hints about things I sorta guessed here, more female characters from Marvel being "for kids", and more male charaters from disney being "for adults".