Fan boys all over the world today gave an agonizing shout of "EEEPPPAAA" as news of the acquisition of Marvel Entertainment by the Disney Corporation. The sale, estimated to be in the realm of $4 billion, would give the Disney Corp. access to the entire catalogue of Marvel characters (somewhere around 5000) to use in their films, toys, theme parks, and television (the four areas where Disney butters it's bread). The move is the second largest for Disney; only the Pixar buy out for $8.06 billion in 2006.
Disney's Chief executive officer, Robert Iger, sees the move as good business for the House of Mouse claiming in a conference call that the move posses "... [a] significant opportunity to further mine Marvel's rich intellectual property portfolio. This was a company that we admired, that we saw growing right before our eyes, that we were impressed with from a people perspective.
Shareholders of both Marvel and Disney made a pretty penny on the whole deal, expected to be finalized on later on this year. For Disney the purchase makes all the sense in the world. Buying into an already successful franchise, holding some already known to be marketable characters and film franchise and the rights to hundreds of other characters simply waiting to be developed. But the Fan Boys... they see things a bit different.
Disney's family friendly tinge has a tendency to shred the edge of most of the things that it touches it, opting to always err on the side of making sure that the soccer moms from whom the billions come from do not turn on the family hot spot. Marvel Comics have been going darker and more "grown up" for years now, drawing (and maintaining) a more adult following. As of late the films too have been going darker and more adult, what with Iron Man's drinking problem and Punisher's propensity to vaporize everything in his path. And while these films have made money for Marvel, it is possible that those unique character flaws (or sociopathic tendencies, depending on what your view is on the ruthless slaughter of evil do-ers) might end up overlooked- thus eliminating the depth that made Marvel's characters superior to those of Dc comics (in my opinion) and made their movies more acceptable for mainstream audiences (note that the messianic Superman movie failed to breathe any life into DC Comic's floundering film production arm while the internally conflicted Batman has made them billions and may have changed the face and feel of the superhero film forever).
But take heart true believers... As of now, it seems like all that is being effected is who signs the paychecks.
Paramount will distribute the next five Marvel films including "Iron Man 2," "Thor," "The First Avenger: Captain America," "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3," but that is something Disney might want to readdress in the near future (and will for sure not happen in any projects coming after this expected merger). "Our intention obviously is to respect the deal that's in place," Iger said. "It clearly would be in our best interest, I believe, and more attractive to us if over time we ended up as the sole distributor of these films."
As for the Comics division, it will continue to be run by Isaac Perlmutter (who by owning 37% of Marvel has received some $565.3 million in Disney shares making him one of the twenty largest Disney investors).
So as of now, it seems like all is well (though rather G-ed up) in the Marvel Universe. Fans of the company should feel good for the brand. The move all but guarantees that Marvel will go on as the largest American comic book company. It also insures that not a summer will go by again without a few flicks (all of whom will have swollen budgets, I might add, as Disney does not ever do anything on the cheap) about humans in tights with superpowers. Of course there is the chance that the next Punisher film will star Donald Duck or that our superhero's female love interests will not have such (cartoonishly) round and bursting chesticles. But there is also a chance that there will be a theme park devoted to these characters that we have grown up loving, as well as new cartoons and films devoted to bringing them to life for a new (less literate) generation.