Punisher producer Gale Ann Hurd threw out the comment, “It’s more important to control unique and interesting characters.” She’s right on the money when it comes to addressing the unique characters of the Marvel Universe, because most of the bigger heroes have already been (or soon will be) given the big screen treatment and those same characters really can’t go to the small screen successfully. DC Comics and Warner Bros. successfully adapted Superman for TV with Smallville so why shouldn’t Disney do the same thing with the Marvel characters? How cool would it be to see an ABC Superhero show go head to head with NBC’s Heroes? That could now very well be a possibility and in case this article lands on the right Disney/Marvel desk, I think you should start with Excalibur, Alpha Flight or X-Factor.
Here’s where the merger is going to really shine but first we have to quell people’s concerns and fear regarding quality and the “darkness” of Marvel comics suffering now that Disney is in charge. Disney owns Touchstone, Miramax and Pixar now, and whereas Touchstone and Pixar are more known for lighter fare, Miramax has been known to release more R-rated films including Gangs of New York and both Kill Bill films. I honestly don’t think it is an issue.
People are complaining that we will start seeing bloodless comic book films, but have you forgotten so quickly about this summer’s bloodless fest X-Men Origins: Wolverine? There was hacking and slashing all throughout the film and not one drop of blood, digital or practical, was spilled; and that wasn’t produced by Disney, it was done by Fox and it’s a prime example of what happens when the studio gets too involved in the creative process.
Iron Man, however, is a prime example of what Marvel can do when left alone – but the problem is Iron Man was the first film completely funded by Marvel Studios and it took a lot of money to make that happen. That’s money Marvel didn’t recoup until well after the movie was made and released, so any other project they may have wanted to work on was on hold until the funds came back in. Now what if Marvel had access to Disney’s money during the time Iron Man was being made? If Marvel has access to that kind of coin, then we could have more than one or two high quality superhero films released every year.
It’s no surprise that Marvel is very tight-fisted when it comes to their own production quality – but not having the funding to release films; they were forced to make deals with other movie houses. This is why we see Sony with Spider-man, Fox with X-Men, and Paramount with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. This is also why the only truly awesome film so far was Iron Man, because Paramount was the distributor not the producer. When the studios try to get involved, audiences end up with X-Men 3, The Punisher and Fantastic Four.
Disney already knows this and I would bet they are happy to stand back and see how their investment can flourish with proper funding. They did the same thing with Pixar a few years ago and if anything Pixar movies have gotten better and they are being released more frequently. Think that would have happened if Pixar had tried to fund their projects themselves? Not a chance. Also, nothing Disney does is low budget, they pride themselves in doing things over and above how it should be done to keep up appearances. If a movie is going to suck, then it’s going to suck looking good.
I know what you’re thinking: “What about all of the movie studios Marvel already has contracts with? Won’t that affect how those are made and released?” Good question and here’s the answer: Nope. Marvel and Disney have both said they plan on honoring each contract and license until it expires but after that Iger said “in our best interests to be the sole distributor of the content.” In other words, the children are coming back home to live when their lease is up. I think that is a good thing.