Disney Buys Marvel… What Now?

by | August 31, 2009 at 6:31 PM | The Movies

So, the huge news of the day is that the giant conglomerate Walt Disney Co. has purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion dollars. The first thing fans think is that all hopes of cool, edgy and adult-oriented Marvel movies are dashed, and we’ll be treated to nothing more than kiddie-geared puff-ball Hannah Montana Meets The Incredible Hulk or Race To Ghost Rider Mountain styled yawn-fests. Despite all the assurances that the deal is set up much like Disney’s existing agreement with Pixar, where Disney is completely hands-off and Pixar has free reign to be awesome all the time, people are still worried. Despite Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada tweeting “Everyone relax, this is incredible news and all is well in the Marvel U. Everybody take a deep breath, all your favorite comics remain unchanged. If you’re familiar with the Disney/Pixar relationship, then you’ll understand why this is a new dawn for Marvel and the comics industry,” the fears remain.

We hear all sorts of horror stories about studios meddling with films until they’re completely off the rails, and with Disney being such a boycott magnet for the eager-to-be-offended crowd, the concern that they’ll try to make everything bland and inoffensive is justified. Disney has said everything right so far, like they “don’t pretend to be more expert than Marvel is in handling their characters,” but come on. This is the same company who would not let Scrubs show The Todd in a banana hammock in their Bahamas episodes on ABC. They’ve also said that all of Marvel’s existing distribution deals will remain in place – Paramount has Iron Man, Sony has Spider-Man, Fox has the X-Men, and so forth – but they eventually plan to bring all of the characters in house as those deals expire. Hopefully, this won’t mean a bunch of squeaky-clean slipshod direct-to-DVD product that Disney once excelled at churning out.

One would think that a single company owning all the characters would make film projects easier to get running, but to disprove that, one need only look at Marvel’s distinguished competition, DC Comics, and how they can’t get anything other than Batman off the ground with their parent company Warner Bros. Still, fingers are crossed that Disney’s ownership of Touchstone and Miramax means that their repeated comparisons to the Pixar deal are valid and will be honored. In fact, Pixar chief John Lasseter has apparently already met with Marvel executives and got “pretty excited, very fast,” and considering the undeniable fact that The Incredibles was really just a Fantastic Four movie done better than Fox ever managed, we can at least have great hopes for some fantabulous collaborations in the future. Lasseter IS the guy who killed those aforementioned slipshod DVD sequels, by the way.

Seriously, the Fantastic Four is perfect for a Pixar movie. But how do you make that without making people say ‘why isn’t this just an Incredibles sequel?’ One of the many things they’ll have to ponder.

Of course, we’re all thinking movie-centrically, but they own the comics now. There may be a lot of Disney-Channel-style TV shows, too, with Tony Stark, Peter Parker and Bruce Banner all going to junior high together as precocious tweens. How many fanboy eyes will bleed at that thought?

There are a lot of questions left to answer, and genre fans have to hold their collective breath until we see how this plays out. Hoping for Pixar, fearing That’s So Kraven!