Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Disney and Marvel

Over the weekend Disney announced that it was buying Marvel for $4 billion. This is probably a good thing.

For the short-term, it does not mean a lot to Disney. Marvel has been pretty aggressive about licensing so there isn't much left for Disney. Long-term, Disney hopes to either continue profitable licensing contracts or to take them over as they expire. It is also hoping to appeal to boys. After years of marketing Disney princesses, fairies, Hanna Montana, etc., it finally occurred to them that boys have money, too.

This could mean a lot to Marvel. For decades they have been the tail wagging the dog. They have been owned by companies that were less profitable than Marvel. At least a couple of times Marvel's parent company has filed for reorganization. In contrast, DC has been owned by Time-Warner for decades. Time Warner regards DC as a source of licensing revenue and treats it pretty well. In particular, the animated versions of DC characters have all been consistent and high quality.

There has been a bit of meddling from DC. When the first Batman movie came out and they found out that Robin had been killed (and therefore could not be licensed) they directed that he be brought back. This turned out well. The new Robin was critically praised.

I'm not too worried about Disney meddling like this. After the current Marvel editorial staff came up with A Brand New Day, eliminating decades of Spider-Man continuity, it's hard to believe that Disney could be any worse.

Side-note - the Hulk is green because Marvel's owner in the 1960s used a cheap printing process that had trouble with colors. The Hulk was supposed to be gray but came out a different color on each page. After the first issue came out, Stan changed the character to an easier-to-print green.

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