Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Marvel Now Part Of The Mouse?!!

So maybe you've  heard rumors that Marvel was bought by Disney.  Pffft.  I'll believe it when I see it!


Okay, so it's true, Marvel has been bought by Disney and is now part of their multitude of brands.  I'm not a business expert, but at first blush (and from what we have heard from the various parties involved), I'd say this is a good thing for both the House of Ideas and the House of Mouse.

Marvel gets the PR and advertising juggernaut that is Disney in their corner.  They were already very well represented on Disney XD, the Mouse's boy-themed network, with reruns of various Marvel toons.  But now that they are in-house, there is even further incentive to drive eyeballs to these characters.  It's not hard to imagine new animated shows or DTV features with Disney's toon muscle behind them.  

They also gain access to advertising space on some of the most popular tweek and kid programming imaginable -- a lot of which is aimed at young girls, meaning that we could potentially see outreach to that market which Marvel has mostly ignored for a while.  I mean, if you are able to get your ad in front of the eyeballs of a billion girls watching Hannah Montana, well, gosh darn it, you better have a product which appeals to them!

Disney gains a lot of Intellectual Property.  A LOT.  And these IPs are, as I said, a good tool for leveraging the tween and kid boy markets which they want to get ahold of in the same manner as the girls.  They also gain access to the revenue stream of Marvel Studios, which Iron Man demonstrated can be a cash cow.  The sweet licensing and merch money are definite plusses as well.

Is there a downside?  There's always the possibility for that on deals like this.  The knee-jerk reaction of a lot of comic fans is the dreaded "editorial interference."  Images of sanitized, "Disney-fied" versions of Spidey, the Avengers, X-Men, and (of course) The Punisher flashed through the fanboys minds.  Personally, I don't think this will be much of a problem in the long run.  When Disney took control of Pixar, they essentially just let them run their company the way they were beforehand, and signs point to them treating Marvel in the same way.  Time will tell of course, but from this point it looks promising.

What about some of Marvel and Disney's competitors which hold licenses?  By this I mean what about Universal Orlando and their Marvel Island zone of Islands of Adventure, or BOOM! Studios and their Muppet and Pixar comics?  Right now the word is that they will continue on, but when those contracts run out, I guess it's anyone's guess what will happen.  (The idea that Universal will have to overhaul another zone of IOA so soon after their Harry Potter area is hard to fathom.)  Again, this is stuff which will not be obvious for a while, since it depends on current contracts ending and new ones being drafted -- but I cannot see Disney letting their major competitor in Orlando run with their characters too long.

In short, I suspect that this is good news for the comic book industry in general and Marvel in particular.  I'm by no means an insider or expert, but my gut usually steers me right, and thats my gut feeling here.

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