The Mouse Owns The House

Damn, this Monday morning went from being just another typical Monday to being a day that absolutely rocked the comic book world. Obviously, by now, everyone knows that Disney has purchased Marvel Comics. I heard of this news around 8:30 am when this news first erupted on Twitter. Since then it has been an avalanche of tweets, e-mails and articles hitting the Internet.

I figured it was time for a little round table discussion to get the view of each member of The Revolution concerning the news of Disney purchasing Marvel. Here we go.

Rokk: I was fortunate enough to hear the Disney Press Conference this morning concerning Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. The Disney executives at the press conference stated that the three factors that lead them to purchase a company are creativity, technology and global growth. Disney was confident that Marvel possessed all of those three assets.

The Disney executives went out of their way to strenuously stress how much respect they had or the creative and business acumen and talent of Marvel Comics. Clearly, Disney was smitten by Marvel. The Disney executives stressed that this purchase of Marvel was just like their purchase of Pixar. They stated that Disney had a “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude toward Marvel and do not intend on interfering with the creative direction of Marvel.

The Disney executives strongly stressed that Disney’s goal is not to rebrand Marvel as a Disney property. Instead, Disney’s goal is to put a brighter spotlight on Marvel. They said that it is very much the same approach that Disney has taken with Pixar.

The Disney executives stated that Marvel accounts for 40% of the comic book industry. They said that Marvel’s presence in the United States is impressive, but it is not particularly strong in the global market. On the other hand, Disney enjoys a large global presence. The executives believed that by selling to Disney, Marvel would enjoy a boost in its global presence.

The Disney executives said that they would honor Marvel’s distribution deal with Paramount concerning Marvel’s movies. This will be done for obvious legal reasons. However, the Disney executives made it clear that once the deal with Paramount expires then Disney will obviously handle the distribution of all of Marvel’s movies.

The Disney executives addressed the fact that Marvel had gained financing for their movies by placing the licensing to their characters up as collateral. Again, Disney will honor any previous agreements Marvel’s movie house had with financiers. However, the Disney executives did state that film financing was never something they even though about when they were looking at purchasing Marvel. They said that Disney has its own ability to finance its own films. So, we can look for Disney to eventually take over the financing and distribution of Marvel’s films.

The Disney executives were asked if Disney’s studio or Marvel’s studio would handle the creative direction for all new Marvel movies. The executives showered praise upon Marvel’s film studio and their creative talents and decision. The Disney executives stated that they were impressed with Marvel’s film studio from a creative and business perspective and that they plan on trusting Marvel’s film studio’s decisions for a long time.

The Disney executives stated that Disney’s marketing ability with retailers like Wal-Mart will be boosted with the addition of Marvel Comics. That Marvel will benefit from Disney’s much stronger marketing division and Disney’s stronger relationship with national retailers.

The Disney executives stated that they were interested not just in Marvel’s movie potential, but also Marvel’s potential for television shows. Disney wants to use their television channels to increase Marvel’s presence on television.

If you want even more detailed information concerning Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics and the press conference then check out the article over on Comic Book Resources.

Personally, I will admit that when I first saw this news on Twitter that I panicked. The idea of Disney controlling what Marvel publishes did not make me particularly thrilled. Disney is incredibly image conscious and likes to be very family friendly. Marvel, on the other hand, enjoys a more dark and adult image.

After my initial shock has faded and I have had a chance to digest the information in the press conference as well as read several articles concerning the purchase I am no longer as worried as I was this morning.

Look, there is a part of me that is going to be sad that Disney bought Marvel. Growing up, Marvel was the “bad boy” publisher. DC was the PG family friendly publisher. Marvel was our comic book publisher. DC was our parents’ comic book publisher. Marvel was like the kid who wore all black and smoked pot. DC was like the kid who wore the pink golf shirt and khaki pants. I know this impression I had of Marvel and DC is not totally true, but that was the impression I had growing up.

Marvel was the renegade that owned themselves and did not have to answer to anyone. Marvel could do whatever they wanted with their characters. On the other hand, DC was owned by a big corporation in Time Warner. DC had to deal with more of the corporate red tape and restrictions than Marvel did.

Time Warner has always displayed an attitude that they could care less about DC’s comics. Time Warner just wants the comic characters around so they can make money from licensing merchandise, television shows and movies. Since DC never really felt pressure to turn a profit on their comic books they had a more laid back approach to marketing and trying new approaches to their comic books.

Marvel, on the other hand, had no giant corporation to take care of them if their comic books did not generate a profit. Therefore, Marvel has had a more aggressive marketing campaign than DC and also has seemed more likely to take chances with their titles than DC ever would.

Now, I know that Disney swears they are going to treat Marvel like they have done with Pixar. If that truly is the case then I have no worries. If Marvel is allowed full creative freedom with its comic books and movies then the sale to Disney is nothing but great news for Marvel fans.

The fact is that Marvel will greatly benefit from Disney owning them. Disney is a juggernaut in the entertainment industry. Marvel will now have much greater access to television with the power of Disney behind them. The Disney-ABC Television Group includes ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel and Disney XD.

Marvel’s movies will get a huge boost with Disney’s might behind them. Walt Disney Pictures distributes for their film studios that includes Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films.

Marvel will also sell much more merchandise now that Disney owns them. Disney has stronger deals with retailers across the world. Plus, Marvel merchandise will surely be sold at every single Disney resort. I mean, honestly, who knows how to push merchandise better than Disney? They seem to be the masters of promoting and selling merchandise.

Now, who should be depressed about the news of Disney purchasing Marvel? Boom and DC. Boom has been doing a great job publishing Disney licensed comic books. That is obviously going to come to an end now. This will be a big financial blow to Boom. It shall be interesting to see if they can survive such a loss.

DC should be worried. In terms of money and security, the playing field between Marvel and DC is now level. Marvel was already beating DC in terms of comic books sales prior to Disney purchasing them. Marvel is now in a much stronger position to make a run at DC in other areas where they might have been weaker such as with their animated movies, animated television shows and merchandising.

Time Warner better learn to get a bit more creative and aggressive with how they utilize DC. I could easily see Disney’s ownership of Marvel simply boosting Marvel to all new heights.

Shawn: I have no concerns over Disney’s purchase of Marvel and how it might impact Marvel’s comic books. Let me put it this way; do you think that Disney really bought Marvel for the comics? They bought them for the toys, cartoons and movies.

So Marvel may get a tiny bit less controversial, but I don’t see the Disney overlords messing too much with Marvel’s comic books as the types of stories and characters they deliver. I see the future of Marvel films being very secure with Disney as their owner. And Disney gets an in house publishing arm to do a lot more comic books with built in distribution and such. Of course, this deals certainly sucks for Boom in the long run.

But I figure, with Mr. Steve Jobs being the single largest shareholder of Disney and on their Board of Directors, that Disney’s purchase of Marvel must be a good idea, because Jobs certainly had to have a say in it. (That was for Rokk’s benefit as he is such a sycophant of both Apple and Mr. Jobs.) I will say that maybe Disney owning Marvel means that we will be getting Marvel Comics on the iPhone (or the iTablet for that matter) faster and easier.

I have no concerns over the content of Marvel’s comic books with Disney as the owner. Remember, Disney owns Touchstone and they do not always crank out family friendly movies. I expect that Disney will not ask Marvel to tone down the violence or adult stories in some of their comic books.

However, I will admit that maybe some of the more controversial stuff or some of the way out of left field stuff may occasionally get tweaked. However, the current output by Marvel should probably remain largely untouched. While I do think that Disney will want Marvel to avoid truly controversial publicity, we will still see things like the Hulk in the Ultimates eating people occasionally.

Kevin: From a pure business position this is a great thing for Marvel and its fans. One of the advantages that DC Comics has had over Marvel, though they have poorly used it, is that they have a big company like Time Warner to help them market and finance their products. DC has sort of been that rich kid only getting by with what they can because they know that they would not go out of business since Time Warner would never sell the rights to the DC characters that make Time Warner a boat load of money.

For Marvel they always have to (over) market their products because they were/are a publicly traded company who lives on what they make from the comic book sales. But now that Disney has bought Marvel it gives the company a similar “security” that DC Comics has had for a long time.

Also, Marvel has already been known as a marketing machine and with having Disney they have an even bigger chance to widen their marketing scope and do more TV spots on the various networks the Disney owns like ESPN, ABC, and the Disney channel.

This is especially true with Marvel opening up their Marvel Studios branch. It will be much easier for Marvel to market their movies and cartoons like the upcoming Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers movies. As a marketing major this is the most fascinating aspect of this deal to me.

Also, this may give Disney an opportunity to publish comics for their shows along the lines of Marvel’s “Marvel Adventure” line and give them some credibility among the younger fans. I wouldn’t mind seeing a comic book based on Kingdom Hearts 🙂

So, overall, I see this a good thing for Marvel and I hope that everything works out great for both companies.

Andrenn: Another thing to add to the list of why I’m so cynical and have no faith in the world. We can put this right between Glen Beck and the Birthers on that list.

On one hand, I feel like Marvel sold out. They gave a big middle finger to all their independence and free will and sold all of that away for money. I hate that. I really do. One thing I was happy about Marvel was that they didn’t have to answer to any higher power or worry about if the big wigs upstairs cared if they killed a certain person off or not. It gave them a quality that DC could never hope to match as far as what they can and cannot do. Now they’ve sold that away and it pisses me off.

I do hope that this means Marvel will no longer have to keep rebooting all their damn comics to try and get new readers. Maybe it can even mean that Marvel can do some more adventurous projects without the fear of losing a ton of money. That’s about the only plus I can find in this though.

In the long run, I still feel pissed off. Like a friend who had been working hard all his life finally gave up and decided to take his parents’ check and not have to work hard anymore and just lounge around after all his previous hard work. It’s sad to see Marvel get so lost like this and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a major quality drop over the next few years.

Maybe it’s just me being a fanboy, but I can’t help but wonder if my father would feel the same way. He’d probably be just as pissed and I wouldn’t blame him. This feels like a slap in the face to all that Marvel has done over the years and it’s a damn shame.

With all that said, I’m going to go play Arkham Asylum and pretend that I’m throwing Batarangs into Mickey Mouse’s forehead.

10 thoughts on “The Mouse Owns The House

  1. Good analysis. Here is another advantage I see:

    1) For years, there has been a perception that the only way to do Marvel (or DC) comics in film (as opposed to TV) is live action.

    * This has the side effect that many comics have to be changed to appeal to a mass adult film-going audience. No spandex, Galactus can't look like Galactus, whatever.

    * If Marvel and Disney play their cards right (and draw in Pixar) we may hopefully be able to see high-budget 3D animated motion picture quality comics that actually look like comics we read.

    2) Blue-sky hope. Comic book audience is aging, averaging 20-25. If Disney/Marvel can use marketing, TV shows, movies, or just better distribution to turn this around… if we can get the average age of comic book readers down to what it was in 1980… maybe sales will go up.

    To do this comic movies and comic books really have to get on the same page. Not the same continuity, but at least a recognizably similar continuity, so that a movie or TV viewer wants to buy in to the comics to get more of the stuff they liked on screen, only without a two year delay. Marvel was already doing this. But perhaps Disney can help it.

  2. I have a question for the round table.

    Given Disney's recent push to make d23 Anaheim a big multi-media event with Disney/ABC/Pixar etc., does the addition of Marvel to Disney make it likely that San Diego has a serious rival in a year or so?

  3. Here's an overly hopeful thought… maybe Disney can help keep the comic book pricing down a bit ($2.99 max)so that a newer generation can enjoy them. What kid under the age of 12, can afford comics these days anyways? Heck, I am trimming titles all the time because I can't afford my habit, or want to give another title a try.

  4. Shawn was right. This is was done for the movie power. X-Men is now going to be a Disney movie. This was not done for the comic books, and that is exactly why this deal is awful.

    We have seen the proof of big time companies running comic book companies not working very well at DC. They will keep their hands off of the comic books until Steve Rogers dies and then that story will be cut. Do you think Spider Man is going to be able to make any more deals with the devil? Probably not. What are the odds that Spider Man and Iron Man take opposite sides and fight each other will be with Disney caring so much about box office sales? There will no longer be any real creative push at Marvel. They will just be managing intellectual property just like DC does for Time Warner. I bet we even get a nice diversity push just like DC. Ryan Choi as Iron Man anyone?

  5. I have the highest hopes for this move. Unlike a lot of you, I DO hope this results in more family-friendly comics (let's face it: that's a return to form, not a betrayal of these characters. It's high-time we all let the next generation have a chance to really enjoy these characters); combine comics that kids can read without their mothers ripping it from their hands and Disney's financial backing (as well as the company's ability to seed Marvel into the advertising on their other projects) and we could see some real great growth here.

    Consider: I first learned of Jeff Smith's BONE because they serialized it in DISNEY ADVENTURES. What if Spider-Man, Captain America, etc. got the same introduction? Jeff Parker's AVENGERS comics, for instance? Now that's a gateway read.

    Plus, a Disney-produced animated adventure starring Marvel superheroes? Can. Not. Wait.

  6. IMO Marvel sold out for money a long time ago so this is no surprise. This makes sense as it will help Disney reach boys, a previously unreached demographic. It also helps Marvel get their name to other countries that have for the most part been unreached.

  7. Oh, hey: I guess these comments date us, but it's funny Marvel was described as the "bad boy" in your time and DC as the "safe" company, 'cause it was the opposite when I got started. Marvel wouldn't say "Damn" and DC had Vertigo, etc…

  8. I'd like to see mainstream superhero titles be something acceptable for kids to read again. Disney knows that kids=disposable income and will make this happen.

  9. Y'know what? I challenge that: I don't think Marvel could effectively go after both markets if they wanted to, playing both to kids and to adults in separate books.

    Now if you were to make certain characters like Punisher only appear in adult titles, that would work. But the moment you have Spider-Man in a 4-color, kiddie-approachable story that really is marketed to kids but also Kevin Smith's "Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do", you confuse Spider-Man's brand, and you get hell from people that quite understandably see these adult books as confusable with the stuff meant for their kids… and tempting to them.

    We don't have that problem right now mainly because kids aren't reading any of it, but it would come. You gotta pick a side.

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