The Ten Questions Marvel And Disney Have To Answer
I say "have to". They don't have to do anything of the sort, of course. But it would be nice.
1. The Boom Studio Question. Recently Boom Studios entered a licensing agreement with Disney, initially publishing a line of Pixar-based titles such as Cars, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc, as well as comics based on The Muppet Show. They then took the rights from Gemstone to the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck line of titles. This would feel like a direct contradiction in the marketplace, for Marvel not to publish these comics now. However, Marvel do license their material to foreign publishers, and their characters to Del Ray's manga line. So which way will this fall? And where will their Kingdom Comics proposed line end up?
2. The Diamond Book Distribution Question. Diamond distribute a great deal of Marvel's trade paperback and hardcover line to bookstores worldwide. However Disney have their own publishers who use Harper Collins. If Marvel switch, this could have a severe affect at Diamond which, in turn, could affect the viability of the current direct market. Would Marvel risk such an impact to align its methods with Disney?
3. The Content Question. Joe Quesada points to the Pixar/Disney buyout which saw Pixar join the board of Disney and gave great autonomy to the computer animation studio. Pixar however generally makes content with a younger audience in mind, Marvel often goes to the extremes of mainstream comics with the likes of and Punisher, Dakota North and Kick Ass – with both extreme violence, nudity and the F and C words being sprinkled liberally. Disney distributes many other movies with similar content issues. But will the comics aspect be a sticking point with someone at Disney, unable to disassociate the message from the form? And with Disney's long experience with movies, will interference occur not so much in the comics, but in the movies?
4. The Market Imbalance Question. Given the resources of Disney, will Marvel be able to swing the market to far in their favour. Already the number one publisher, will they be able to squeeze competitors out of business? Will they take too large a slice of the cake? And given the publisher's relative narrow content spread, will this further reduce the diversity of the artform as a whole? Or will the influx of money and the backing of a multimedia conglomerate enable to company to experiment further, wilder and wonderfully?
5. The Valuation Questions. Is Marvel worth it? Market analysts tell me that they believe price quoted is too high, well above traditional valuations based on revenue and profits. The worry is that, as happened with Ron Perelman's purchase of Marvel, that expectations and need for profit will exceed the ability of the company to match them, leading to attempts to create short term gain even if it leads to long term loss. Ah bollocks, the Mouse can afford it. Apparently they overpaid for Pixar. And that worked out.
6. The Boycott Question. Disney is a beacon for protests and boycotts. One part of the company offends a customer, suddenly all parts are affected. How will Marvel cope with a boycott over a Disneyland ride – and more importantly, how will Disney as a whole react to a boycott over gay people in X-Men (probably quite well, given form), or, well, since we're going there, scenes of child rape in Marvelman (ah, that might be a different matter)? The Disney ownership could bring a greater scrutiny of Marvel's output than ever before by the people who like to get offended.
7. The Theme Park Question. What about the Hulk and Spider-Man themepark rides at Universal Studios? Tolerated for the length of the contract then shut down? Any chance of them being moved pipe by pipe to Disneyland?
8. Will this affect Howard The Duck for the better?
9. Who is stronger, Mr Incredible or The Hulk?
10. Any chance Marvel will be giving Promotional Purity Rings away with Jonas Brothers comics?
Sorry, I ran out of sensible questions, but I'd already written the title of this piece. So what questions do you have?
UPDATE: A damn fine question from AlwaysOptimistic in the comments – what abouit CrossGen? Bought by Disney to basically get the rights to Abadazad, it's a fantasy comic universe with an existing fanbase and now, well, accessible to Marvel…
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