There are two types of people who go see comic book movies. There’s the small minority that knows the every tiny detail and history of the superhero on the big screen because they read comic books and then there’s the vast majority—everybody else.
When Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion Scrooge McDuck bucks it was only the biggest thing to happen to comic books since….well, probably since TimeWarner purchased DC Comics some 40 years earlier. Corporations don’t purchase comic book companies because they give a damn about comic books. Corporations purchase comic book companies because they give a damn about comic book characters.
The acquisition of Marvel was a big news story on the business page. It was a “did you hear” moment of shock and awe across the Internet and blogosphere. Marvel fans (aka “Marvel Zombies) are fiercely loyal and knowledgeable. They’ve been known to get seriously bent out of shape if Spider-Man’s uniform isn’t drawn with the webbing under the arms so imagine how hot and bothered they are over the possibility of the wall-crawler pairing off with Donald Duck and Goofy.
Wolverine squaring off against Peg Leg Pete? The Sub-Mariner swimming alongside the Little Mermaid? The Fantastic Four vs. The Incredibles? Face front and ’nuff said, true believers! This is the BIG one!
Actually, comic book geeks are a pretty mellow group of guys (and a few gals). There’s a lot of trepidation and uncertainty as to what it could mean when The House of Ideas gets absorbed by The House of Mouse. But the fact is nobody really knows what it could mean.
What won’t be happening anytime soon is Disney making any movies featuring Spidey, the X-Men or Iron Man. Those properties belong to other studios such as Paramount who hold the rights to five planned films: Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America (2011), The Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2012/2013).
Sony has three more Spider-Man flicks in production and in the pipeline and 20th Century Fox chose the day after Disney acquired Marvel to announce they were planning to relaunch the Fantastic Four and Daredevil and there are more X-Men/Wolverine flicks in the future. As long as 20th Century Fox keeps making movies with the FF or Wolverine, the rights won’t revert back to Marvel (and Disney).
Disney didn’t spend billions of dollars because of a burning desire to turn The Great Lakes Avengers into a film franchise. What their strategy is to buying the rights to characters they can’t make movies about for years to come isn’t immediately clear, but you can be sure the suits at Disney and Marvel behind this deal see a endgame others don’t immediately.
There is some apprehension on the part of Marvel zombies that Disney may look at the comics and want to see a kinder, gentler direction, which could signal an end to same-sex kisses, graphic acts of brutal violence and the odd sight of a super hero climbing out of a woman’s clevage.
But it’s just as likely Disney won’t meddle with Marvel’s comic line too much. Marvel still remains the top comic company ahead of DC and since Disney wants the good will of the teenage males demographic, why fix what isn’t broken?
The only thing that is sure is for The Punisher, Wolverine, the Hulk and the 7000 Marvel characters that now belong to Disney, it’s Mickey Mouse’s world and they’re living in it.