By Lisa Fary
I don’t care enough about Marvel or Disney to really be moved by the announcement of their unholy union. Unless Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers get recast as flesh-eating undead in a Marvel Zombies spin off. I’d love to see zombie versions of those twerps feasting on the soft brains of their fans.
And yet, I refer to this business deal as an “unholy union”. Surely, I harbor feelings of righteous indignation. I do, to an extent. But, Disney buying Marvel may not be an entirely bad thing.
But first, details! The short version is that Disney is buying Marvel for $4 billion. Existing deals for movies with other studios will remain in place. Paramount Pictures will still distribute Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers. When the deal is approved, Disney will own Marvel, its library, and all of its characters.
I don’t read a lot of Marvel comics and have nothing invested in the characters or storylines. So, in terms of continuing character and story fidelity, this deal makes no difference to me.
What bothers me about the Disney-Marvel deal is the extent of control that one company will have on such a wide range of entertainment. Disney is already a monster – and that’s just on the magical Disney side of it. The company already owns ABC, ESPN, Miramax Studios, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, and Pixar. The social danger of one company owning so many media outlets is crushing varying points of view and messages that don’t conform with the values or interests of the parent company.
Disney says that the current management at Marvel will stay in place and there are no plans to alter Marvel to fit in with the Disney brand. So, for now, we won’t see much of a difference. Your Marvel comics aren’t suddenly going to become happy, kid-friendly rags with a pro-family message. Any big editorial changes under Disney’s direction will probably take years to come to fruition.
Despite all that, Disney-Marvel may be a good thing for the long term survival of comics.
The current fanbase is getting old. There may be a couple decades of buying power left in us, but catering only to an aging demographic doesn’t spell business success. And that’s any comics publisher is – a business. Marvel may be relevant on its own right now, but what about ten, twenty, thirty years from now when we’re all doing end of life planning? Without consumers to buy product, there is no Marvel. There is no comic publishing. Period.
Kids today aren’t reading American comics and the industry is just not going to survive unless they start. The last time I saw a kid or teenager in my local comic shop was in Arizona, and those kids were buying manga.
As obnoxious as Disney is, they do have a direct line to kids and a creepy ability to make them like crap (which isn’t to say comics are crap). If Disney can make millions of kids love talentless puppets like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers, surely they can get some of those kids to buy comics.
Lisa Fary is a graduate of the creative writing program at Florida State University and holds an advanced degree in Special Education. Her earliest influences are Princess Leia, Rainbow Bright, Astronaut Barbie, and her 6th grade teacher, Ms. Palmer. She’s angry that it’s almost 2010 and she still doesn’t have a hovercraft, but will accept a jetpack as consolation. That jetpack had better be pink with a rhinestone monogram.
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