Noble questions deserve noble answers, Adele. I hope I can provide.

Adele in the comments to my recent ‘Wednesday/Thursday/Happy Day Comics‘ post asked:

“So how do you feel about Marvel being bought up by Disney?”
I’m glad you asked, Ms Adele.

I feel absolutely ebullient, superlative and outright erect.

Yes. Ironic riposte was my immediate response. I couldn’t help it – sorry, please don’t take offence, it’s just that…in truth, I feel a little numb toward Marvel in general.

I grew up watching the 90s Spiderman thinking that Marvel and DC characters all existed in the same universe and could never figure out why Superman didn’t help Spidey out now and then – until I hit 12 and began to understand the differences.

You see, Marvel’s the introductory universe for me: they adopted Kirby’s ‘Young Romance’ approach of giving their characters a real-life set of relationship problems much earlier than DC and so were great for me growing up. However, just as soon as I realised the differences between the two [and yes…the fact that they don’t exist in the same universe :*D] I also realised that DC was my preferred universe because, for all it’s ‘boy’s own’ origins, it has the better character sets: the ubermensch Supes, the Amazonian feminist Wonder Woman, the anarchic pederast Bats and many more. That still stands in many ways. When I read the Wednesday Comics, I read them with a glass of Ribena – had I grown up on milk and cookies, I’d read them with those. The last thing to mildly warm me from Marvel was Civil War and that was lukewarm – before that, Grant Morrison’s ‘New X-Men’ and that was a long time ago. [Stay with me, I’m getting to Disney.]

Now Marvel’s brought out Strange Tales [doing roughly what Wednesday comics are doing – i.e. taking unusual artists and letting them work on what they want] and it’s interesting. I have the first issue in my bag and intend to re read it at lunch today but this – like Marvel’s adoption of Marvel Knights or MAX quickly after DC opened up Vertigo – feels like an afterthought. A “Shit that’s innovative, let’s do that” move.

Disney have been playing a “Shit that’s innovative, let’s BUY that” game since Pocahontas flopped and Toy Story flew. So when Disney sees Marvel superhero movies doing particularly well at cinemas – even with pretty shitty, obvious remakes like The Hulk – they see an open market that DC hasn’t quite caught up on. Sure, the recent Batman films have been some of the highest grossing ever but I get the impression that while DC wants quality crystallisation of their stuff, Marvel wants quantitative delivery.

Disney buying Marvel is a business choice. Nothing more.

I give it a year or two before the Disney canon characters start entering the Marvel universe. Then, after that, maybe there’ll be a postmodern-mixing rejuvenation of the Disney characters – it would be interesting to place those cutesy, ideal characters in a world that makes no sense to them – coming to light but I highly doubt it can keep up with the quality DC will have capitalised on since then from the Wednesday Comics project.

So, finally, how do I feel?

I feel as though Marvel’s been going this way for some time and I feel a little remorse at not being more maddened.

My youngest self tells me that this shouldn’t happen, that any vestige of quality that might have existed in Marvel comics will be screwed out of it by the non-comics, high-movie making fools at Marvel but the rest of me says, I should have seen that one coming.


3 thoughts on “Noble questions deserve noble answers, Adele. I hope I can provide.

  1. A good collection of thoughts and words. I too was mostly indifferent to the deal between Disney and Marvel; it is a deed of film rights and in reality nothing more. The blurring of lines between cinema and comics as a pair of visual artforms and method of storytelling only exist to those on one side of the fence – a preach(er man) to the converted, so to speak. The fact that Marvel seem to have less interest in inventive development as their long standing rival (and more interest in what I refer to as ‘lunchbox’ revenue) in their original medium will merely hasten the process that began almost a decade ago; the continued spewing of low quality, high budget films celebrating latex and stuntmen and very little more.

    The trend for cinema adaptations of comics and their characters will fail, and probably quite soon. It is only a matter of time before cinematic fashion changes and these films will become redundant, or at least not pull in the audiences and cash as they currently do.

    The fans of the comics will remain, and new generations will always be willing to part with a couple of quid for a good story they can cut up and stick on their wall or reverently place in dustjackets. But will studios be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in that which is on a downward slump? It seems unlikely. The deal with Disney was somewhat inevitable, and will encourage nothing new or credible, only hasten the demise of cape clad blockbusters.

  2. I tend to agree with you Benchic, the buying of marvel by disney does seem to indicate the ‘fad’ status now experienced with comic based movies. But it is quite understandable as to why comics have been latched onto as being translatable into film, they are intrinsically visual and come with a fully formed fan base. For this reason, I think the comic book films we have been experiencing will certainly become less fashionable in the near future, but will always resurface when directors are feeling lazy. For this reason, I can understand why Disney would want to invest in Marvel, even if they are latching onto the tail end of a current comic-movie fad, I’m pretty sure it’s one we haven’t seen the last of.

    I don’t think, as Ben suggests, that Disney characters will be introduced into the world of Marvel. Disney must be fully aware of the elitist snobbery that comic readers cherish, and the legions of Marvel readers they would immediately alienate through introducing crime-busting Donald Duck or a sexed up Minnie. Ok well maybe Minne would be popular, but otherwise, Disney is an incredibly astute corporation. They are not going to blindly mash the two universes of Marvel and Disney together. I hope.

  3. Disney IS an astute corporation, but alongside this they also have a very proud and seemingly unmoving set of ideologies based on happy endings, christian values, bending reality to create more pleasing geometric storylines and what could be seen as the raping of storytelling traditions both from written texts as well as historic visual texts. Just look at Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ – a film I have never fully understood. ‘Aladdin’ was always originally told as a story about a little Chinese boy who finds a magic ring, and later a magic lamp. For some reason, Disney decided that this version of Aladdin would not sell, and so they took the 1950s classic movie (and certainly one of my all time top 3 films) ‘The Theif of Baghdad’ and changed the lead character’s name from Ahmed to Aladdin (but kept ALL the other character’s names the same) and remade the classic film, almost frame for frame, in an animated format, completely ignoring the original text and angering many people in the process. Including me.

    Disney has NO qualms about messing with original material. As for the ‘snobbishness’ of comic readers, I think this is a very good point. However, it hasn’t actually made a huge amount of difference to the glut of poorly observed comic book adaptations we have seen in recent years. The fact that die hard fans will be enraged at film versions of their favourite graphic pieces is almost seen as a given fact nowadays, and one which I doubt ANY major film distributor gives two shits about. I remember when Judge Dredd came out in ’95, and so called ‘fans’ of the comic were up in arms because the Judge removed his helmet in the film – the producers MUST have been aware that it would anger a small section of the audience, and kept it in nonetheless.

    Anyway. I am waffling. I agree that Disney are astute, and careful producers of movies. I also agree that their buying of Marvel was more to do with buying the rights to a plethora of characters (both established and brand new). However, I can’t see how any worthwhile product can come out of this. And I for one would not be surprised to see the Disneyfication of many Marvel classics.

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