Aug 31 2009 12:33pm

Disney Buys Marvel: Comic Book Fans Everywhere Die Little Deaths

Through the power of the internet, all secrets are brought at once to light: Disney has acquired Marvel in a $4 billion dollar deal. (License for Wolverine was $3 billion of those dollars; Silver Surfer went for 75 cents and a jelly doughnut.)

Disney, already an entertainment juggernaut (that’s one!), has been devouring other properties for years, including television networks ABC and ESPN. Grabbing a property like Marvel means that Disney can begin to do what it does best: brainstorm corporate crossovers until every writer’s assistant has had their first coronary!

It’s marginally too soon to say how Disney’s ownership will affect Marvel’s titles over time, though it’s safe to say that Disney’s hulking presence (that’s two!) will probably be serving as a sentinel (that’s three!) for a more family-friendly series of books. Whether this means the creations of new comics properties or subtle synergies like X-Men #220: Hannah Montana IS Dazzler! is yet to be determined.

On one hand, Disney’s insistence on making blandly acceptable fare might be a detriment to some titles tackling serious issues. On the other hand, Disney’s worldwide marketing stranglehold on the young female demographic means that girls might finally become a desirable audience for comics. (On the other other hand, given what Disney currently markets to girls, maybe this isn’t such a blessing.)

Things to look forward to under the new regime:

- New on ABC Family: Radical “Rogue” Miller, Mutant Sophomore!

- ESPN Presents: various sporting events with costumed characters caddying, delivering water and/or visiting swift and painful justice to all dishonorable athletes! Hulk said ball out of bounds, dammit!

- A Spider Man Musical! (Which basically proves that this cash-scrabbling buyout was inevitable, since you’re much too late for that, little one. Much too late.)

So, what say you? Has Disney’s buyout signaled the end of Marvel as we know it, or will Marvel rise from Disney’s clutches like a phoenix? (That’s four, and I’m done!)

Genevieve Valentine is an incurable movie and TV nerd whose fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Federations, and more. Her first novel is forthcoming from Prime Books. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.

Marcus W
1. toryx
My immediate concern when I read the news was for the Avenger series of movies. Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and whatever else they were planning before doing the Avengers movie.

So far Marvel Studios appears to have been doing everything right with their movies. Now that they're under the Disney umbrella, how constrained are they going to be?

Since I don't actually read the comics, I hadn't thought to be worried about that. I can't help but wonder if the days of gritty comic storylines are numbered.

And I swear, they better not do an X-Men Christmas special!
Blue Tyson
2. BlueTyson
Of course they will :

A Muppet X-Men Christmas
Jason Lyman
3. jlyman
Oh, I was looking forward to the Christmas Special where Prof X and Magneto finally reconcile over hot cider.

I agree with ToryX in that I wonder how autonomous Marvel Studios will end up being. Will they continue to have the freedom to develop the stories and characters that they want, or will Disney now put their paws into the mix and try to dictate?

I wouldn't expect too much change in the comics that are already in production, but what ideas might get spun out in the future?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully it's just business and not personal (or creative).

@2. BlueTyson

Wannabe Asha'man
4. Wannabe Asha'man
I have started a survey on facebook of who is worse

Microsoft or Disney
David Pucik
5. Notmaker
I think it depends on what Disney's level of control over Marvel is (and the nature of that control). Disney maintains a relatively hands-off approach over its ownership of Pixar and Miramax.

And if this leads to Marvel comics buying a clue about young and female audiences, this is by no means a bad thing.

Of course, the Marvel vs Disney video game could possibly be the best worst thing ever.
Wannabe Asha'man
6. goodfellow puck
This is no less "upsetting" than Time-Warner-DC. These things typically work as a huge boost to the buyee. Marvel will get huge benefits in TV & movie production and distribution, as well as merchandising and licensing tie-ins. Their profits are likely to go way up with big bro Disney keeping their costs down.

Would Marvel have been able to broker a deal with Pixar for a 3D movie? But now it's encouraged and FREE.
Wannabe Asha'man
7. randwolf
Marvel's best days are past & will probably not return, so I don't see this as a disaster. Worst, I think, some of the great older work is probably going to be let go out of print, never to return. Too much of the content isn't Disney-clean; either politically or sexually subversive.

Hang on to your paper copies.
Angela Korra'ti
8. annathepiper
I must admit I am having beautiful, beautiful visions about the female X-Men not taking kindly to being expected to join the ranks of the Disney Princesses. You just don't do that to Dark Phoenix, is all I'm sayin'!
Marcus W
11. toryx
notmaker @ 5:

Of course, the Marvel vs Disney video game could possibly be the best worst thing ever.

I don't know about that. I'd buy a fighting game similar to Marvel vs. Street Fighter if it gave me a chance to match up Wolverine vs. Daffy Duck, just to watch the feathers fly.
Wannabe Asha'man
12. disgruntled
yeah. marvel, as we know it, is over.
Wannabe Asha'man
13. Ajbcool
It does sound worrying, but somewhere, some dude whose site I go to, shared his opinion on this development:

"Disney buys Marvel. That came out of nowhere. Since Marvel wasn’t in any financial trouble and under no pressure to make any deal at all, it’s certain the terms are quite fair to Marvel and its properties. So, no, we are not going to see Amazing Spider-Man turn into Chip ‘n’ Spidey’s Rescue Rangers. All signs point to Business As Usual at Marvel Comics and they probably have better leverage for film and animation projects beyond those currently in the works, so they can make more money. Meanwhile, Disney is probably looking to grab exclusive distribution rights to those movies, getting them more money. By all accounts, this whole thing sounds like a very Pixar-ish kind of deal, and I think that’s worked out rather well for everyone involved, audiences most certainly included."

I think it's well said that Marvel and its properties are fairly safe from Disney's influence. Otherwise, why would they give up rights that they have by not being bought? I think this would be a good thing for all people.

In case it needs to be said, the above quote came from Brian on, home of the webcomic 8-bit Theater, as well as a couple others...
David Pucik
14. Notmaker

I don't know about that. I'd buy a fighting game similar to Marvel vs. Street Fighter if it gave me a chance to match up Wolverine vs. Daffy Duck, just to watch the feathers fly.

Or how about Deadpool vs Donald?
Wannabe Asha'man
15. Lsana
Honestly, I don't see any reason to panic here. Disney owns a lot of entertainment franchises, not all of which are exclusively or even mostly "family friendly." As the post said, Disney owns ABC, and it seems to me that they have pretty much the same mix as every other network. ESPN has continued to cover sports without needing to worry about how to include Donald Duck and the Jonas Brothers in Monday Night Football. I suspect that Marvel likewise will continue much as it has.

This is not a sign of the apocalypse here. It's not even a sign of the end of an age. It's a business deal of the sort that happens every day.
Wannabe Asha'man
16. euphrosyne
Doesn't the phrase "little death" typically refer to orgasm?

I would have said "die a little." A small difference, it just me that thought wtf? :)
Pam K
17. PamK
I, for one, welcome our new Mouse overlord.

Especially since there is now a non-zero chance of Wolverine and Spidey making an appearance in Kingdom Hearts.

(I can't help it, I love crazy cross-overs, and the thought of a Squeenix/Disney/Marvel crossover video game is just too awesome to resist.)
Wannabe Asha'man
18. hapax
@17 -- Honestly, my first thought at hearing the news was "I can't *wait* for Kirkman to write DISNEY ZOMBIES!"
Wannabe Asha'man
20. Rob T.
I think people tend to confuse Disney the brand name (synonymous with mainstream "family-friendly" media content) and Disney the conglomerate (producers of Pulp Fiction and "Desperate Housewives", among other "mature" films and TV shows). I seriously doubt that Marvel's content will be seriously affected by the buyout, though that may change if The Mouse gets serious about exploiting Marvel-developed properties in non-comics media, and even then it's not likely to be "Disneyfied" the way some fans seem to fear.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
Think of this as good material for next year's April Fools issue. Mouse buying Tor is rife with comic possibilities - especially in light of current plot of Cory D's serialization.
Joe Sherry
22. jsherry
@17 - Kingdom Hearts was the first thing I thought of, and given the blending of a variety of Disney films into the landscape of the game, plus the Final Fantasy would be easy to start blending Marvel into future games, or a spinoff game.
Stephen H. Segal
23. earthling
I think we need to focus on what really matters here:

Pixar potentially collaborating with Marvel.
Wannabe Asha'man
25. Fieldy
@Toryx - Daffy Duck is WB, but it would be fun to see a matchup with Wolverine and Donald v. Batman and Daffy Duck.

My gut reaction was this was not going to be a good thing. Thinking about it more, I'm not so concerned. Pixar seems to be operating fairly independently, and content shouldn't be an issue as Disney produces some adult shows, someone mentioned "Desperate Housewives" and, I think, at one point (don't know if they still are) they were involved in the porn industry.

Next mashup - Toy Story 4: Magneto abducts Buzz Lightyear.

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