As it was when Jeff Goldblum took that fatal tumble from a clifftop in New Zealand, this morning Twitter was aflutter with the news that Disney (aka The Walt Disney Co, aka DIS, for those of you with an eye on the stock market) were buying Marvel Entertainment Inc (MVL) for $A4.7 billion — only, much to the dismay of the Marvel faithful, this particular trending topic was no hoax.
Disney’s chief executive, Robert Iger, had described Marvel in somewhat predatory terms as an “attractive target” at a press conference earlier this week, despite the apparent shakiness of the entertainment and associated industries:
“They’re not bulletproof,” said Iger. “They are not immune from the changes that we’re seeing, but they have established a footing that we think is more solid than what you typically see in the nonbranded non-character driven movie.”
While Marvel shareholders prepare their pockets for the $30 per share they’ll receive (plus “about 0.745 Disney share for each Marvel share”), the most pressing issue at hand for the Marvel minions is, no doubt, wondering exactly how Disney will abuse their beloved superheroes when, in a year or so, the Mickey Mouse tentacles are allowed to start snaking into Marvel’s archives.
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Disney’s track record speaks for itself in that department: whether adapting existing classics or updating their own, Disney is the Renovation Rescue of pop culture.
Case in point, their handling of Winnie the Pooh. Anyone who read or was read A. A. Milne’s delightful Pooh stories as a child will know the wonders of the Hundred Acre Wood and its inhabitants. So it remains a mystery as to why Disney thought this:
Would be better turned into this:
Elsewhere, Disney continues to show an inability to respect the past that would make George Lucas blush; the studio received wide (and deserved) criticism for its creation of the Disney Princesses franchise, which kicked Disney’s already shaky feminist reputation into overdrive by creating an aspirational line of everything from toys to clothes and homewares (and let’s not forget the adult-sized wedding dresses!) based on the various princesses of the Disney back catalogue.
Suddenly the animated wonders of Snow White and friends were little more than Bratz with lower hemlines. And don’t get me started on the new-look Tinkerbell:
However, it’s worth noting — in the interests of disclosure — that I am a card-carrying member of the DC Comics brigade, and vehemently opposed to most things Marvel. I think Spider-Man is a d-ckhead and I’d rather brush my teeth with a flamethrower than follow the exploits of The Fantastic Four. So, being of the opinion that you couldn’t make the Marvel Universe much dingier if you tried, for the sake of watercooler argument I’m offering up a variant on today’s Twitterverse: what if, in some tearing of the pop-cultural space-time fabric, the Disney-Marvel merger actually righted both conglomerate’s wrongs and made both companies better ?
Disney could use its meddling powers for good instead of evil and actually make Marvel characters, you know, interesting and readable and Marvel could inject some kicky alternative buzz into Mickey Mouse land. And look at it this way: if I’m wrong, then we can all look forward to thrilling to the combined adventures of Wuzzles and Ant Man. Hey, it couldn’t be much worse than Rise Of The Silver Surfer.