Monday, August 31, 2009

The Marvelous World of Disney?

Nearly fifty years ago, Stan Lee was running a marginal comic book company on the brink of extinction, with one major asset: the rampant creativity of artist Jack Kirby. In the ultimate confirmation, by some standards, of Marvel Comics's elevation into the pop-culture canon, the company is going to be sold to Disney for four billion dollars. So the rich get richer and pop culture grows more homogenized. On the creative end, I suppose some Kingdom Hearts-style crossovers between the "universes" are inevitable if not compulsory. I doubt whether you'll see much difference in Marvel content, either in comics or movies, though you may end up seeing superheroes on ABC more often. Still, something distresses me about Disney's ongoing colonization of our shared culture. In my more dystopian (or maybe just dyspeptic) moods I can see a day coming when the Disney stamp will be a seal of cultural legitimacy and nothing will matter to most pop consumers unless it bears the mark of the Mouse. As long as Time Warner exists (and owns DC Comics) that day won't arrive, but between them the two rival colossi could form a kind of cultural "bipolarchy" of the sort I see functioning in American politics, in which the war of the gargantuas leaves nothing else standing, or drives the rest underground. Not everyone will be as pessimistic as I am sometimes, but I doubt whether anyone but a stockholder can say that this is a good thing.


hobbyfan said...

There were already idiots on Google Groups cracking wise (if you can call it that) about the Disney-Marvel deal this afternoon.

As for "superheroes on ABC", this deal does give Marvel a leg up on any possible TV projects that might be at the bottom of the pipeline. Just as long as they're not copycatting "Smallville", that is.

Anonymous said...

Wondering how long this has been milling about among the two companies since animated versions of Spider-Man, Hulk, and Iron Man from the '90s have bee playing on Disney XD for a while, and Spider-man & His Amazing Friends had a run on ABC Family not too long ago. Hopefully we might see more animated series get made. It could be a late '70s/early '80s revival! Sorta.
Quality pending, of course.

hobbyfan said...

Scandy raises a good point. Disney does own the 1967 Spider-Man series, and all the 90's material that Saban produced, via their purchase of Saban. The current Spectacular Spider-Man, now on DisneyXD after CW gave up on it, is a Sony product, but it turns me off because of the art style. Put in Pixar's hands, it might be bigger than it is now.

I've seen the new Iron Man & Wolverine shows via on demand, since Nicktoons isn't on Time Warner Cable's roster at the moment. I'm not on board with a juvenile Iron Man, and Wolverine & the X-Men doesn't rock my world, either. I'm too old school for that.

I can, however, picture a Daredevil or Luke Cage series on ABC during the next decade.