Get ready to riot, geeks.
The New York Times (via Slash Film) is reporting that The Mouse House of Doom, aka Disney, is buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. What does that entail, film-wise? Pretty much everything. It means that Disney will outright own the rights to Marvel’s entire category of 5,000+ characters, everything from our beloved Iron Man to Squirrel Girl. It also gives them full control over licensing, publishing, marketing, toy lines, you name it, Disney now owns it. Most importantly, it gives them ownership of Marvel films.
It is, in a word, terrifying.
Why? Because Marvel seems to be on a hot streak right now (Wolverine excluded). After the stinkers of X3, Ghost Rider, etc., the Avengers-inspired movies are looking great. So great, in fact, that Marvel had inked a five-picture deal with Paramount to produce, among others, Iron Man 2 (set to release next summer), Thor and eventually, The Avengers.
Disney has picked up a monster of moneymaking potential. Marvel has probably made itself financially stable for basically forever, because Disney, like Galactus, devours everything in its path and will likely never die. It’s just too big and too powerful (and potentially too evil). I don’t think this is the death knell for our favorite superhero franchises — Disney acquired Pixar, and continues to produce stellar films through them. However, one can’t help but wonder what the lasting effects of a Disney-owned superhero franchise will be.
Obviously, there’s a ton of information that we still need. What will happen to Marvel’s existing films that were slated for development? Where will they go? Will they become Disney releases? For the love of God, what will happen to Ant-Man? Oh, wait — no one cares about that one.
The lasting effects of this acquisition are yet to be determined, obviously. Although it’s incredibly early to begin speculating, my preliminary take is that it could, in a very rough sense, go one of two ways: 1) Marvel films now have a veritable juggernaut (see what I did there?) at their backs — financially, production-wise, and in marketing. It could mean a bit of a Golden Age, except that, in some respects, we’re kind of in one (at least, as far as the Avengers franchise is concerned). But the potential is there for Marvel films to reach even more audiences, generate even bigger products, draw bigger names. 2) Disney drives them into the tank by meddling too much. My hope is that they’ll understand that Marvel Studios knows what it’s doing (some of the time) and they’ll only tinker/learn from with the failures (Daredevil, Elektra, Wolverine) and take inspiration from the successes (X-Men I & II, Iron Man, Spider-Man I & II, Incredible Hulk). But if they go all Jon Peters on the material, they’ll drive Marvel films straight into the ground. Similarly, if they try too hard to make them kid-friendly (a legitimate concern - it is Disney, after all), they’ll lose all the geek goodwill that Iron Man and his ilk have bought thus far.
In short, it’s going to be one of the most fascinating developing stories for many months to come. And I’m so nervous, I might barf.