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Disney’s Marvel gamble
Will bringing Marvel’s edgy comic-book characters into the Magic Kingdom ruin their appeal?
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isney is making “one of the most notable acquisitions in some time,” said Daniel Indiviglio in The Atlantic, buying up comic powerhouse Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. The “potential synergies” are obvious: Disney gets to add Marvel’s cast of characters—Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, and some 5,000 others—to its stable, and merchandise them; Marvel can tap Disney’s deep pockets, and its Pixar animation unit, to bring its characters to new audiences.

I’m nervous about what will happen to those “neurotic” and “sometimes downright messed up” characters, said David Hinckley in the New York Daily News, once they live in the Magic Kingdom, alongside Mickey and Disney’s other “comic establishment” characters. If it’s not careful, Disney will smother the “irreverence that made Marvel worth $4 billion,” and we’ll end up with “the comic/animation world’s version of Microsoft.”

Forget Microsoft, said Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. Disney’s path points toward becoming a media conglomerate, “more like Procter & Gamble than a movie studio.” And that’s good news for Marvel fans. Disney has accepted the “uncomfortable reality” that its “sweet-natured” family fare isn’t cutting it in today’s more action-oriented market, and that its strength is as a “mass merchandising machine” for other people’s creativity.

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