This has nothing to do with me, but I’m kind of a superhero geek so I can’t help but talk about it. Is it good? Is it bad? Does it matter? I have to think that, overall, this will be a very good thing for Marvel.
You have to remember that the image of Disney as an evil, money-grubbing corporation is based almost entirely on Michael Eisner, the accountant who became the boss and immediately started slashing quality and attacking competitors in an attempt to raise profits at the expense of all else. They stopped making good cartoons and started doing straight-to-video sequels, because it was a smaller investment of time and money and provided almost as much profit. What it did not provide was a positive brand identity–Disney stopped being a fabled creator of magic and wonder, and became an entertainment factory that churned out bland, lowest-common-denominator pulp. If that Disney had bought Marvel I’d be terrified, but that Disney is gone, and the new Disney is trying very hard to recapture it’s old image. Eisner got the boot, and better leaders took over. John Lasseter swept into the animation studio like an avenging angel and got them back on track. Their deals and acquisitions and products of the last few years have shown that they’re slowly getting back on track, focusing on quality as a long term brand identity. Give it a few more years, a few major releases, and I bet we’ll get right back to the Disney of old, the Disney I grew up with, where your first thought was “if it’s Disney, it must be good.” It could take a long time, but at least they’re trying, and that’s good news.
For Marvel, this means a lot of great opportunities. Getting into the theme parks and the various Disney channels will be great advertising, though I’m not sure they need the help in the US. Internationally, on the other hand, Disney is huge and Marvel is not, and the main benefit of this deal will be to spread Marvel characters and franchises into more markets than they ever could have done on their own. If Disney is smart, they’ll leave Marvel with complete artistic independence and let them continue doing what they’ve been doing for years–this is, after all, the most successful era Marvel has ever gone through, and Disney would be stupid to buy them with the intention of changing that. I suspect that, in the US, we might not see any change at all; Marvel will stay on the same track as before, and Disney will use it’s international muscle to expand that track into other countries. At least that’s my hope.
Look at it this way: Disney has had limited Star Wars licensing for years, and they’ve arguably used it better than Lucas has. I really think that this is an opportunity for Marvel and Disney to help each other instead of change and ruin each other.
Or maybe I just really want The Incredibles licensed for Heroclix.