M-A-R-V-E-L, M-O-U-S-E: Disney purchases Marvel

Initially I felt a bit sick. Kind of like my recently divorced parent was marrying a friend of the family who'd been around since I was born. "Uncle" Disney was going to be my new daddy.

Or perhaps it was a bit like The Parent Trap, since I'm fairly certain I was raised by both Disney and Marvel, though I never knew them (save for some reruns of Marvel cartoons on Toon Disney... clearly, in retrospect, Disney's first step) to be married.

And now, out of nowhere, my parents are getting back together. Only I don't want either of them to stop paying attention to me — especially my Marvel dearest. ("Did you scrub your comics today? DID YOU?") The Parent Trap, ironically, is Disney — and I suppose that really isn't the plot, is it?

On the whole, I've decided, it's a good thing. The deal has been likened to Disney's aquisition of Pixar, and look at the quality products that's turned out. I was concerned, of course, about the comic books. The film industry can take care of its own.

Would Wolverine stop cutting to cut a rug? Would The Hulk stop smashing to start singing? Would Spider-Man randomly walk down the street to the tune of a cheesy song and then hold a dance number at a Jazz Club? (Oh, wait. Thanks again, Spider-Man 3.)

I just can't stop thinking about Gargoyles. The show, a Disney property, was mildly successful and a personal favorite of mine. It was a cartoon, of course, centered around mythological creatures ("stone by day, warriors by night") who awoke after being "frozen in stone for a thousand years." The themes were surprisingly adult: interracial marriages, inter-species love, but to quote co-creator Greg Weisman, "didn't perform up to Disney's expectations ... Disney really wanted it to outdo Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and it failed to succeed at that."


Years later, despite continued cult success, Disney refuses to release the rights to the dormant show. "They won't even let go of Clarabelle Cow," says Weisman. "They don't want to take the risk that someone could make them look bad."

I had to realize, however, that Disney did give the show its start — and that Marvel, like any other company, is a business. It takes money to run a business. It takes exposure. Marketing, merchandising, global branding. If it's one thing Disney knows how to do, it's create a package. A successful, conglomerate package.

Besides, Warner Brothers acquired DC Comics in 1969, and the comics were largely unaffected. (But really, who cares? Disney just bought Marvel.)

While change is inevitable, it will unlikely be initial. It seems that Disney has full faith in Marvel and its creators, and rightfully so. After all, a company like Disney doesn't get to be — well, Disney — by making poor decisions. Likewise, a company like Marvel doesn't get to be Marvel by skirting by. "We don't pretend to be more of an expert at doing this than they do," the Disney CEO said. "It's not about buying a brand, it's about buying people who know these characters and we're going to rely on them thoroughly."

I do wonder what current Marvel staff has to say to the idea of being purchased. It's a little scary — and one has to wonder, is Iger really Maleficent?

Nevertheless, it's an exciting time for comicdom: comics are being reviewed in Entertainment Weekly, the characters are in nearly every home in America thanks to cinematic translation, there are "motion comics" hitting iTunes, and the comic nerd of the ’80s is coming out of his mother's basement less and less, leaving room for people like Megan Fox to proclaim that they are comic fans.

Iger's mission statement includes "put[ting] an even greater spotlight on Marvel as a brand and [to] help Marvel grow even more," which as a fan, I can't argue with. I'll shelve my fears of a G-Rated Marvel, remembering my love for the timeless Little Mermaid, that Pirates of the Caribbean is an amazing, adult franchise and that Bambi, Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland remain three of the darkest, scariest things I have ever seen.


As long as the Disney princesses realize that Storm is a Queen (I'm talking to you, Snow White) and everyone knows that Stan Lee could take Walt Disney in a bar fight, I'll remember Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada's words: "Welcome to this moment in history. Everyone relax, this is incredible news ... all is well in the Marvel U."

The Hulk smashes. The Thing clobbers. Spider-Man swings. Cinderella... sings.

I remember thinking Spider-Man on Broadway was shocking. Okay, it still is, but no Marvel fan could have foreseen the news that broke August 31, 2009: Marvel Comics has been purchased by Disney for $4 billion.

Read that sentence again. Marvel, the company responsible for films (via multiple licensing deals) like X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and upcoming projects like Captain America, Thor and The Avengers has been purchased.

Purchased by Disney, the company responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and upcoming projects like The Princess and the Frog.

According to Disney CEO Robert Iger, Marvel's multiple licensing deals (including its relationship with Paramount to distribute its films via Marvel Studios) will be honored as "the right thing from a legal perspective."

But again: Marvel, publisher of comics for 70 years, has been purchased by Disney, creator of Snow White. (I hate her.)

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