Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Disney/Marvel Retrospective.

(Gill is on holiday so this is all I could muster on Photoshop at short notice...)

Watered Down Kiddy Comic Book Movies?! Noooooooooo.

If you live under the internet equivalent of a rock, you may not have noticed the news break yesterday that the Walt Disney company has purchased possibly the biggest publishers of comic books in the entire world, Marvel Entertainment, for a rather handsome fee of $4 billion dollars (roughly £2.5 million). This would entail all the characters in the Marvel brand, brought over into the Disney portfolio, including the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Four to name merely a few. The question however on most fanboy's mind is, how will this effect the future instalments of their favourite comic book characters on the silver screen? Will Mickey team up with Spidey in a brotherly buddy comedy? Will The Beast from Beauty And The Beast replace the blue one of the same name in X-Men (or vice versa!?!)? Will the Fantastic Four have a death match with Pixar's The Invincibles?! Well...no....they won't.

Marvel Entertainment, has had a mixed history with the big screen adaptations of their best characters; some good (Spider-Man 2, X-Men 1 & 2, Blade, Iron Man), some OK (Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, DareDevil) and some unmentionable (Elecktra, The Punisher 1&2, Ghost Rider). This could be down to Marvel's inability to get the right people on board for their films or even down to how much commitment each studio puts into these adaptations. As it stands, Disney will not be legally allowed to start making all the next Marvel adaptations as they should choose. Unlike their main rivals, DC Comics, who have been owned by Time Warner since the early 90s and thus have exclusive rights to all DC adaptations for the foreseeable future, Marvel have sold their rights to various studios throughout the years, Sony/Columbia still own the rights and will indeed make the next three Spider-Man films, the same also applies to 20th Century Fox who hold the rights to an array of Marvel characters including the Fantastic Four, DareDevil, X-Men, Silver Surfer etc and Universal who produce The Hulk and have a related theme park. Both of which have agreements that means this will not change any time soon.

The Future.

Of course nothing lasts forever and Disney are not suckers. You do not spend $4 billion just to attain bragging rights over your competition, eventually Disney are going to want to exploit Marvel's assets and get their money's worth. Aside from the inevitable merchandising revolution and the theme park tie ins at the two Disneyland resorts in America, Disney will eventually start considering adapting Marvel's biggest characters themselves, however when you really think about it, is this truly a bad thing? As already mentioned Marvel have a mixed history with their comic book movies and if you look at the list of their releases since 2000, it honestly is not pretty reading, for the most part. For every Spider-Man and X-Men, there is unfortunately a Ghost Rider or a Punisher.

Disney themselves have went through a renaissance over recent years since their merger with Pixar having started to firmly establish themselves as the creative powerhouses they once were, and with their eagerly awaited return to 2D animation this Christmas, on the back of the consistently beautiful and evocative pieces of Pixar and the live action success of the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy as well as possibly the first promising computer game adaptation of The Prince Of Persia out next year, it only makes sense for both parties that this deal should in the long term reap massive benefits. The thought of Pixar making an epic theatrical adaptation of one of Marvel's properties is mouth watering, or Jerry Bruckheimer producing a high budget live action equivalent. With an absolutely stellar track record in making the most wonderful and awe-inspiring images to appear on cinema screens for over a decade, how could the prospect of John Lasseter over seeing any Marvel adaptations in the coming years truly be a bad thing? Still dreading those terrifying cross-overs? Look no further than the preposterously successful Kingdom Hearts series, if they can cross over Final Fantasy with Disney, then adding Marvel into the mix would be all kinds of excellence.

Similarly so, this will work both ways, besides their stable household superheroes, Marvel have released astounding graphic novel adaptations of literary masterpieces such as Stephen King's The Dark Tower and most recently a beautifully told, and drawn account of The Wizard Of Oz, so perhaps re imaginings of some of Disney's classic characters by some of the leading graphic artists populating the industry could be on the cards (though most likely not a Disney Zombies, one would imagine...). So in retrospect my friends, yes there will be tedious cringe worthy cross overs, and cheesey distasteful merchandising cash ins and theme park rides, but for the future of Marvel's movies, there are indeed worse hands you could leave them in than that funny looking topless mouse in the top image...

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