Disney buys Marvel Entertainment, monopolizes my childhood

Completely out of nowhere, it was announced this morning that Walt Disney Co. had purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Wow. 

I’ve been following the news on JoBlo this morning, and the superhero movie-lover inside me wondered immediately how it would affect the current Marvel films in development. The answer is apparently that it won’t — any contracts already an existence between Marvel and other studious will be honored. The other exciting bit of news is that John Lasseter, the mastermind behind Pixar, has met with Marvel’s creative staff and apparently already gotten the wheels turning on how the two might work together. Oh yeah, i felt a shiver right there too.

Well we know Marvel stockholders are dancing in the streets right now and that Stan Lee and Mickey Mouse are probably kicking back somewhere, but what about the rest of us who care very little about the financial side of the deal? Do we want Marvel’s superheroes in the hands of a family entertainment conglomerate?

From the fan perspective, there’s definitely negative and positive. As far as future films, we definitely won’t see the results anytime soon, but it’s hard to imagine that Disney, the biggest family friendly brand name in the world, would put Cinderella’s castle before before the opening credits of a dark PG-13 superhero movie like “The Dark Knight.” Perhaps it could just carry the Touchstone name, but then there’s also the risk of a Marvel character getting dumbed down to PG levels to snag that family audience. 

Disney clearly likes superhero movies — “The Incredibles” and “Bolt” — so in hindsight their interest in Marvel’s properties makes sense. It’s hard to imagine X-Men and Spider-Man becoming any more globally recognized considering Marvel’s dozens of toy contracts and TV shows (and Broadway musicals) and whatnot, but with Disney it’s definitely possible. 

What first comes to mind is theme parks. Orlando already plays host to Spidey and Hulk rides at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure so I’m curious how Disney World might take advantage other than the obvious selling of merchandise, Spider-Man in the New Year’s parade, some corny stage show and maybe something in Tomorrowland.

The possible Marvel-Pixar collaboration is the most exciting; talk about two of the movie business’ most respected brands. I don’t think this means a Spider-Man action figure will be a last-minute addition to “Toy Story 3” (although a cameo would be cool to get the buzz going), but any kind of spin-off of a Marvel character(s) could have huge commercial cash-hoarding potential.

As a child who grew up watching Disney movies only to have them replaced by Marvel cartoons, this kind of deal is pretty exciting. Both are such powerful brands that their reach, albeit a little overwhelming, could really make something special happen. I eagerly await news of that first true collaboration and you can bet I’ll be musing about it. 


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