The House of Ideas meets the House of Mouse

Well, the Disney-Marvel deal still seems to be a topic of much interest, so let’s talk a little more about what it all means.

The first thing it means for Marvel is a great deal more financial security. Much like DC with Time Warner, Marvel is going to get a bit of a cushion if they have a financial downturn.

But the first thing that comics fans care about is — what’s this mean for my stash of new comics every week? And it’s not going to mean a single thing. Disney will probably never meddle in the comics publishing side of things, ’cause frankly, comics are a tiny, tiny part of the entertainment industry. A hit movie or video game makes more money than all of Marvel’s or DC’s comics do in a year. Disney won’t care whether Peter Parker marries Mary Jane, whether Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes is Captain America, whether Jean Grey comes back to life again or not.

Right now, everyone is assuming that they’re going to Disneyfy all of Marvel’s books to make them more kid-friendly or even tween-friendly. I don’t see it happening. Disney owns Miramax Films, and they didn’t release any kid-friendly versions of “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Dogma,” “Trainspotting,” “Kinky Boots,” “No Country for Old Men,” or “There Will Be Blood,” did they? Disney cares about making money, and as long as Marvel makes money, they won’t try to fix what ain’t broke.

The fact of the matter is — Disney is a gigantic, multi-national entertainment corporation. They care about making money. Disney does not care about comic books, not enough to meddle pointlessly. Disney does care about movies, TV, and video games. ‘Cause that’s where the money is in the entertainment biz.

And Marvel’s characters are proven money-makers in movies and computer games. That’s why Disney wants them. And they must want them awful bad, ’cause they’re not going to see a dime from “Iron Man 2” and probably not from “Iron Man 3” if Marvel had a three-picture deal with Paramount. Same for Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, the Avengers, or any other Marvel property whose film rights are held by another studio. A contract’s a contract, and there ain’t nothing in the world that the Mouse can do in that case. They can offer to buy the contract from Paramount, but that’ll be real expensive, maybe too expensive. Disney is probably at least three years away from being able to get a Marvel superhero movie out with their name in front of the credits.

But Disney knew that going in, and they still made the offer — which means they’re pretty confident that Marvel is going to be in a position to make Disney a very large amount of cash. They want Marvel’s superheroes in their creative stable bad enough to shell out $4 billion for them, and that may mean they’ll also be motivated to bargain for the rights held by other studios. After all, Disney has some of the deepest pockets of all the movie studios, and they may just have the pocket change on hand to get Tony Stark away from Paramount, or Spidey away from Columbia, or the Fantastic Four away from Fox.

Will the movies be good? The best we can do is keep our fingers crossed. Sure, Disney has always had a mixed record on live-action films, but the same goes for Marvel — or don’t you remember “Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider,” or the “Fantastic Four” movies? The hopeful side of me remembers that Pixar has a lot more say in Disney than they used to have — and Pixar’s one superhero movie was one of the best ever.

Are we going to see crossovers? Not on film, not on TV. Maybe in video games — the “Kingdom Hearts” series crammed in every Disney character they could, and they might try something like that again. But we’ll definitely see some crossovers in the comics, and probably before the end of next year. Probably not “Hannah Montana: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” or “MODOK in Wonderland” — but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some sort of kid-friendly crossover, similar to DC’s “Superman and Bugs Bunny” crossover a decade ago. I’ll admit I’d really love to see if the Hulk can get as mad as Donald Duck can…

But there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that’ll happen that we’ll have no way to predict. We’re down the rabbit hole now, and it’s definitely a whole new world out there…

No Comments

  1. VoodooBen Said,

    September 2, 2009 @ 12:03 am

    After all, Disney has some of the deepest pockets of all the movie studios, and they may just have the pocket change on hand to get Tony Stark away from Paramount, or Spidey away from Columbia, or the Fantastic Four away from Fox.

    Actually, the Fox properties are gonna be a lot harder to nab – apparently, Fox holds onto the rights of those characters as long as they keep making movies.

    Which is why they just announced a FANTASTIC FOUR reboot with the worst creative team possible.

  2. Scott Slemmons Said,

    September 2, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    I saw that about the new FF movie earlier — I’d assumed it was meant to be a bargaining chip. “Buy out our contract, Disney, or we’ll continue to wreck this brand!”

    I had no idea Fox had that sort of deal on the FF, X-Men, etc. Sounds like a really, really, really bad clause to put into a contract. Of course, Fox and News Corp. haven’t been enjoying the most profitable years lately. So yeah, they can keep making them, but that means they have to spend money making them, and if they’re going to make crappy movies on purpose, they’re just going to lose more and more money on ’em…

  3. Henry Covert Said,

    September 3, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

    actually, Disney did refuse to release Dogma due to Christians taking offense. Kevin Smith and the Weinsteins had to shop it around until Lions Gate agreed to distribute it. Disney did clamp down a bit on Miramax after they acquired it.

  4. VoodooBen Said,

    September 5, 2009 @ 2:49 am

    Here’s a neat little blog post I found that discusses the pros ands cons of the issue: