Friday, September 4, 2009

Disney Buys Marvel

I hate to be the guy that says they saw this coming. And the truth is, I didn't. It was so out of the blue you'd have to have been Nostradamus to predict Disney buying Marvel.

But the other day I was analyzing Disney's business pattern, and I noticed that while they were strong with girls thanks to their tween programming and Princess merchandising, they were pretty weak with boys, and a very likely business plan would be for them to buy a boys' media company. I thought (already too strong of a word!) that perhaps Marvel might be one such acquisition.

It was just that, a brief speeding speculation that ricocheted in my noggin and barely registered. I never dreamed it would actually happen!

The thing that really grinds my gears about all this is that Disney bought Pixar for more than they bought Marvel! Sure, that purchase was done in a different economic times, but still.

The one thing I find amusing is how all the publicity related to the sale says that Marvel has "a library of over 5,000 characters." Sure. There are probably only 500 great characters like the Thing, Doctor Doom, and Namor, but 4,500 losers and Gene Colan creations like Stilt-Man, the Matador and the fabulous Frog-Man.

Unlike other fans that insist the sky is falling, I don't think Disney would have spent 4 billion on something to change its operation. Would you spend uncounted billions for Pepsi-Cola and rename it "brown bubble water?"

Disney is a huge entertainment conglomeration and they have many branches that produce things that don't always perfectly fit the Disney image. For instance, did you know Disney owns a production company that makes porn?

Whether the ultimate effects are good or bad, I can't help but shed a tear over Marvel's loss of independence as a company and the increasing conglomeration of the entertainment media into the hands of a few small groups. Right or wrong, Marvel always guided its own destiny and their characters and properties were an end in and of themselves.

As of right now, it seems Marvel is not really changing. The comics are coming out as scheduled, and the Disney purchase isn't altering Marvel as a studio or trying to fix the deal with Fox and Sony for X-Men, FF, and Spider-Man movies, and because of the Marvel deal with Universal, Marvel Super-Heroes Island isn't ever leaving Islands of Adventure, and likewise, the Marvel heroes will never come to Disneyworld.

(I have never, ever in my life been to Disneyland. And why should I? I live in Florida, son!)

At this early time I hesitate to speculate about anything, but it is true that because DC was always cushioned by its parent company from losses, in general, DC had a greater tendency than Marvel to keep in print critically praised but low-selling books. Not since the cancellation of Star Trek has any termination been greeted with as much rage and curses as the end of Dan Slott's THING series.

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