If you’re just waking up now or flat out haven’t heard, the big news of the day is that the Walt Disney Company’s has now acquired Marvel Entertainment in a $4 billion deal. What this means is that Disney is now the proud new owner of the entire Marvel franchise which includes all the 5,000+ characters, Marvel Studios, the new Marvel Animation and several other subdivisions filed under the Marvel name.
Yes, Mickey now owns Spider-Man. Wolverine is now Pluto’s pet and Iron Man now works for Scrooge McDuck. But before anyone gets too worked up, what does this deal mean to the fans?
First of all, Marvel films under contract with third-party deals such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, etc. All those contracts will be honored until the deals expire. In the future, Disney hopes to bring everything in-house. “It clearly would be in our best interest if we ended up as the sole distributor,” says Disney CEO Robert Iger. “When you distribute your own films, the opportunity is even better.”
Secondly, Disney will also now have full rights and control over all of Marvel’s 5,000+ characters. This could mean many things. We can expect Marvel/Disney crossovers in various media which can be both a positive and a negative. Positively, Marvel will now most likely have a permanent presence on the Disney XD channel with possible new Marvel/Disney programing or the re-airing of existing Marvel Animations. Furthermore, according to Iger, through internal discussions, Marvel and Disney are now also brainstorming ideas about potential projects for upcoming films. This also includes discussions between Marvel and Pixar.
“The group got pretty excited pretty fast,” said Iger. “Sparks will fly.”
Marvel will most likely also begin to produce Disney comic books that will include Mickey and Co., minus any of the Pixar characters from Disney films such as “Toy Story,” “Incredibles” and “Cars” which BOOM! Studios currently holds the rights to.
Negatively, and what many are worried about, is the potential treatment and watering down of established Marvel canon. One of the reasons Marvel was attracted to Disney was their ability to connect with younger male audiences which is what Marvel wants their demographic to be. While this is arguable, this move means that both Marvel and Disney are more interested in marketing toward children than adults. Will they abandon the adult male demographic? Most likely not. But more emphasis will definitely now be placed on younger males. And naturally a younger audience means that there will be forms of censorship and possibly even a reduction in quality of material and storytelling. I.e., Gwen Stacy can no longer die. Punisher can no longer kill. And Wolverine can no longer smoke his cigar and have sex with a Skrull Elektra.
Don’t worry however, the comic books will most likely be left as is and untouched (that is if Disney knows what’s good for them).
Lastly, can we expect Spider-Man and the X-Men patrolling the Disney theme parks alongside Chip and Dale? Well, according to PaidContent, you shouldn’t expect any big changes regarding Marvel’s theme park presence at all. Disney does not plan on any immediate change when it comes to the Disney theme parks says Disney CFO Tom Staggs. So don’t expect a Spider-Man Web Crawling ride anytime soon, but Spider-Man patrolling the parks? Maybe. Currently Universal Studios has the rights, but once that contract expires expect them to migrate over the most magical place on earth.