Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This isn't news. No, in the distant past - yesterday morning perhaps - this may have been news, but now it is old. Nowhere will you find someone unaware that Marvel has been bought by Disney.
What to make of such a union? Some are fearful; others are jubilant. Is this the end of Marvel comics as we know them or the opening door to a better world?
The concern is that Marvel will become moralized; altered so as not to offend the young. Of course, there is a sense in which that happened anyway, years ago, when the company outlawed smoking in their books. Can Disney really top that edict?
More so, why would they? Interfering with Marvel's day to day operations, at least in the short term, would have little purpose. It would irritate the medium's fans without any major gain: the comic business is rather trivial, anyway. No, this sale likely had little to do with comics, at all. This was about other mediums.
The most obvious, of course, being live-action film. As every online news outlet is quick to point out, however, most of Marvel's characters are tied up for years - if not indefinitely - in agreements with other studios. Eventually, however, many of the characters will revert to Disney.
But this is only a fraction of the situation. Disney's more immediate gain will be felt on television. If that means more seasons of Spectacular Spider-Man, it's hard to complain.
Yet the area most of interest lies in a middle ground: what are the possibilities for theatrically released animated productions? Apparently, there has been discussion of Pixar becoming involved with Marvel characters. The possibility of directors like Brad Bird working on animated Marvel properties for the big screen is a real possibility, provided there aren't issues with existing arrangements.
And therein lies an interesting question which has yet to be answered: do Disney's agreements with Fox, Sony, and others apply to theatrical releases or merely to live action films? If it's the later, this news is of particular significance. Could Marvel compete with Fox's X-Men franchise by offering films of their own? If so, is it possible Fox may eventually just sell the rights back to Marvel and Disney?
It's of course far too early to speculate on such things, but, after Wolverine, we find it hard not to dream about a better world.