Pointless Opinion: Disney buys Marvel

Welcome to this moment in history. Everyone relax, this is incredible news and all is well in the Marvel U.
Joe Quesada – Marvel Editor in Chief

It’s one of those things that gets hinted at many times and the same amount of times, it gets quickly blown over. ‘It’ll never happen’, ‘It’s too ridiculous an idea’, ‘Disney wouldn’t do it’.

But it did. And Disney are doing it.

Disney getting Marvel gives Disney access to over 5,000 characters. Whilst the obvious are there, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, The Punisher etc, Disney have access to characters the mainstream public may not be that aware of. Runaways, Moon Knight, Exiles, Power Pack, Ms Marvel etc. All of those untapped yet popular franchises for the picking.

Disney also are not lost from the amount of places these characters can go. These guys own book companies, theme parks, radio studios, magazines, other networks and more. It’s maddening, but it’s also very exciting. You can do almost anything with anyone. It leaves questions about what happens to a few non Disney related deals (Marvel rides at Universal Studios), but the potential is ridiculous for Disney.

‘But Eoin’ you may ask. ‘What do Marvel get out of this? Marvel are already a large company, why would they need Disney?’. To which I reply simply ‘Are you serious?!’

Take Marvel Studios as an example. In 2008, Marvel Studios did a deal with both Universal and Paramount to distribute their films to cinemas. Marvel would have control whilst Universal and Paramount would have a share of the profits. In the past before the studios was created, Marvel shopped the rights to Spider Man and the X-Men to Sony Pictures and Fox respectively.

With this deal, and as soon as it gets to a position when it can happen, they don’t need to shop these projects around. Disney have a wealth of studios to distribute the projects around to to get done. And apart from Spider Man and the X-Men, Disney have the film rights for every superhero, villain and celestrial being in the Marvel Universe and even titles not in that universe. Not all of these will be done, of course (Unless people really want to see another Howard the Duck movie), but it’s there if the pitch is right, the crew is good and the studio gives it the green light.

Bold Prediction: Disney will eventually chase down Fox’s X-Men/Fantastic Four and Sony’s Spider Man rights thus giving Marvel Studios more to work with. I’ll probably be wrong, but bold predictions are fun like that.

Whilst this madness was going on, today in the United Kingdom also saw the launch of Disney XD. Why do I bring this up? Well in the States, one of the biggest drawing shows the channel has? Spectacular Spider Man. One of the shows that’s debuting on the channel over here? Iron Man: Armoured Aventures in which retells the origin of Iron Man with Tony Stark et al as teenagers. Marvel Animation has an easy distribution point and thus far a majorly successful one at that which is the reason why Disney XD US runs 20 hours of Marvel programming on their channel.

The Disney Store is world famous having many stores in many places and along with the products they already have, they can put Marvel products in their stores. Caps, jackets, action figures, kids costumes etc. All of it would end up in stores across the world. And with Disney backing them, we could potentially see much wider comic and trade paperback distribution. Titles have rarely ever been seen in any newsagents or book stores…why not attempt that?

Video Games were recently talked about by Marvel. Marvel rights are already placed around various game studios. Disney have said they will honour these and won’t rush to grab them. But when they expire, expect a major raid on Disney’s part to get these titles under their own and thus far successful label. And yes, I have seen the Kingdom Hearts comments people have thrown around and the two words I have to say…’Why not?’

Now comes the Elephant in the room. Will Disney interfear with Marvel and what they’re doing? Asking them to tone down books, destroying the Marvel MAX line of books? Mandating crazy cross overs to boost sales titles?

The answer to that is quite simply No.

Disney would not have done this purchase if they didn’t do their research into Marvel. They saw the money they were making and they looked at why Spider Man, Hulk et al are popular mainstream icons even rivaling Superman and Batman at DC.

Disney didn’t buy Marvel Comics for $4 Billion. They brought Marvel Entertainment. They brought the film production company, the animation studio, the toy lines, the clothing and hat distributing and the icons that helped put them on the map. They see why they turned a major profit earlier this year and they see what is coming up and that’s why they have aquired them. This isn’t like The Muppets deal where they are stuck in the basement and left to linger for years. People know Marvel now and they have huge projects coming up. It won’t leave the lips of many so soon nor will Disney drop the ball as much as they did with The Muppets.

This also isn’t like Time Warner/DC Comics. Time Warner did not aquire a company that specialised in certain forms. They did Comics. Their film rights went to Time Warner and it helped make distribution deals for other things but at the end of the day, DC was aquired to give WB more material and even to this day, it’s making a loss. Disney aquired a company that has branched out, made a tonne of cash and will continue to do so now with the backing of one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.

If anything, I see them taking a Pixar route with it. Disney may have a small part to what they’re going to do with the products and how their titles will be distrubuted, but even Disney have said in a business call that Marvel ‘manages the properties from a business perspective very intelligently and trusts them to make the right decisions for these products for a long time to come’, referencing the Pixar deal in how this was going to work.

And now, Marvel is worth $4 Billion and in a new home. Not bad for a company that almost went bankrupt in the early 90s.