To quote the late Queen of Blues, Dinah Washington, "What a Difference a Day Makes." Just recently all anyone was talking about in the movie industry was whether The Final Destination was in indeed final and if Rob Zombie was done butchering horror films (to answer that last question, NO, he's trying to tackle The Blob next - and I'm not referring to my first girlfriend from high school). But here we are, just a scant twenty-four hours later and the biggest fish in the marketing sea has just eaten the biggest fish in the comic book sea.
Of course, I'm talking about the news that Walt Disney Co. acquired Marvel Comics, Inc. for the meager sum of $4 billion dollars. It's a great deal of money, and I don't care what the nay-sayers out there gripe about, if I owned a prospering business and a mega-company offered to buy me out for an exuberant amount of money, I'd sell too. Heck, I'd go buy a special pen just to sign the papers! Anyone who says otherwise just isn't being honest with themselves.
Let me start by saying that like most of you, I too thought this was pretty much the end of hardcore Marvel comics, films and cartoons. Disney isn't exactly synonymous with violence, so at first I can see how this would be a cause for concern. Read this quote from Disney chairman Robert Iger:
"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation."
Wait - that didn't make you put down the Rolaids yet? Try this one:
"The acquisition of Marvel offers us a similar opportunity to advance our strategy to build a business that is stronger than the sum of its parts."
Still nothing? Well on the conference call with investors shortly after the announcement, Iger said, "I think there's a phrase, if it ain't broke." This is nothing new to anyone familiar with Disney's business practices. They did not spend this much money just to ruin what they bought. Saying that just because Disney now owns our favorite comic book superheroes it will water them down and ruin them, is like saying you would go out and buy a Rolls Royce and then paint it to look like an ice cream truck just to sell ice cream to kids. Much like the aforementioned high school girlfriend - that's just plain crazy; and if anything can be said about Disney, it's that they are not EVER crazy when it comes to a business decision. Want to know the real reason they bought Marvel? Read this statement:
"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation. The acquisition of Marvel offers us a similar opportunity to advance our strategy and to build a business that is stronger than the sum of its parts. [These shows are] right in the wheelhouse for boys."
Disney has always struggled to find its place in the world when it came to reaching the teen/young teen male audience. It's no wonder, because shows like Hannah Montana, The Jonas Brothers and every freakin' princess movie ever made is geared and marketed towards girls of every age. Disney finally started trying to hit the boy demographic when it started up the TV channel Disney XD, which already shows 20 shows from Marvel's arsenal, but it was having trouble finding an audience with its current lineup of characters. I don't think they have that problem anymore. Now, with more than 5,000 characters to choose from, Disney can now move forward with some interesting shows.
Let's go through a list of possible new ideas Disney could be kicking around:
Besides the obvious fact that we could see many new cartoons on the Disney channel, let's not forget that Disney purchased ABC a few years back and has had much success with its lineup of shows - or have you forgotten about Lost? This same argument about watered down, kid-friendly, ponies, rainbows and flowers nonsense was floating around back then too. I don't hear too many people saying that now.
Imagine if you will no more Marvel origin movies in theaters. All of them are now shown on TV running on a regular series and the movies can now focus on just being pure bad ass-ness fun. Does an origin story really need two hours to be told properly or could it just be done in forty-five minute segments over the course of a TV season? Keep the major characters in theaters, Avengers, Thor, Iron Man and such, but now audiences would get the chance to see more of the Marvel Universe and appreciate and enjoy lesser known characters like some many hardcore fans already do. It would also give those lesser characters a chance to build an audience that would potentially follow them to theaters.