Monday, August 31, 2009

The Amazing Spider-Mouse!

So, I read yesterday that Disney, in its apparent bid to control the world (or, at least the lion's share of the entertainment world) bought Marvel, Inc. Yup. That's Marvel Comics, and their stable of about 5,000 characters. Hmmm. My immediate reaction is to be suspicious, even IF Marvel stock jumped about 26% on the news.

It's not that Disney doesn't know anything about comics: they've been putting out character-related books since the Golden Age. And, as edge-of-your-seat action flix like Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure proved, they aren't necessarily all happy-go-lucky and G-rated anymore in the movie department. Still…still…

Marvel has a pretty big line of "adult" comix, and I'd be surprised if Disney let them keep, say, a Garth Ennis on board. And that's kind of the problem I'm seeing with a Marvel/Disney unification: Marvel was always about facing the realities of a harsh world, even when written and drawn in a comic-book style. That's what separated Marvel from DC back in the early-60s: DC's heroes were perfect, infallible…and you never much saw them OUT of costume. Nobody cared what Bruce Wayne's troubles were - if, as a billionaire, he had any at all! - and the only time you really saw Clark Kent was when he was dashing into a phone booth. Marvel put out brooding, troubled characters whom you cared for both IN and OUT of their tights. Spider-Man was cool, but lots of teens could relate to the troubles of bookish Peter Parker. The Hulk is Hyde to milksop Bruce Banner's über-geek Jekyll, a personality that was every bit as savage and unrestrained as Banner's was scientific. Sometimes, you couldn't even tell who the heroes were! With all the destruction he caused, you got the sense that Hulk left kind of a lotta dead bodies in his wake; Spidey was constantly vilified by his newspaper nemesis J. Jonah Jameson.

I don't see that kind of thing being possible under a Disney umbrella, where everything is kittens and rainbows. And I worry that Marvel will be poorer for it.


Blogger Strangeite said...

Disney is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is.

Remember, Good Morning Vietnam, Ruthless People, Ed Wood, The Royal Tenebaums, The Prestige, etc., are all Disney movies.

Lost and Desperate Housewives are Disney television shows.

I am actually very excited about this merger for a couple of reasons. While Marvel has been riding a wave of success lately, I haven't forgotten the Great Comic Bust of the '90s. Being under the Disney umbrella allows Marvel to safely ride any future economic hardships without having to sacrifice the characters.

Also, I excited about the possibility of some really cool cross-branding at Disney World. I can see them taking the same technology in the Toy Story Mania ride and slapping onto it an X-Men Danger Room theme.

Imagine a show similar to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular but starring Spiderman (of course you have to have special guest appearances).

I can also imagine a section called "Mr. Fantastic's Lab" located in Innoventions at Epcot.

I am now rambling. I understand your concern but Disney will want to protect its investment and will probably isolate the Marvel comic label into its own corner (similar to Touchstone Pictures) with the occasional cool attraction at the parks.

11:19 AM  

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