Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Disney + Marvel

vs? or +?

The recent breaking news of Disney acquisition of Marvel Comics is definitely something catch many people's eyeballs.

I'm not interested in going to slice and dice the financial part of the deal, where it is good for stockholders or not. There are tons of articles out there for that aspect. However, I just want to talk about how I feel the importance of Disney in the role in American culture on a global scale.

As we know, Disney is just like Coca Cola, the value is not really about the physical stuff. Yes, theme parks worth lots of money, merchandises too. However, what Disney can distinguish from many others is the brand name, the image it portrait to the world which is also very intertwine with what American tries to present to the world. The image of fantasy, fun, youth, and kind. It tries to cater its products to the majority, to provide a mental comfort zone for people to hide behind, while they are also facing the ruthlessness of the world. Meanwhile, make a truck loads of $$$. There is nothing wrong with that. Those who criticize Disney are the bitter ones that can't do what Disney can't.

Disney understands markets very well, it diversifies into many streams of businesses: TV, sports, movies, theme parks, etc. Just creating an universe that you just can't get away from. When they knew that their core animation business was in trouble, was aging and would become irrelevant, they bought Pixar. What a smart move! Pixar cements Disney's future in animation, and continuity in creating new characters for its theme parks and merchandises. The new acquisition from Marvel would just do the same. Yes, Marvel has many edgy characters with shortcomings and odds. However, when reality TV is the trend, audience are more interested in viewing 'real' people than characters created by writers. Some edgy comic book characters would be more welcome than the traditional Disney characters that basically all good. Either way, it will work for them as they have an expanded universe of characters to do any mixes and matches it wants.

Regardless of the image of the Marvel characters, yes some of them are simply ugly. However, if the Shrek can be a hit, there is nothing wrong with the Incredible Hulk! Cos, most Marvel Characters, they are fighting for justice, for the poors and weaks, and for peace (ironically by means of fighting and violence). So, the goals are still good, not like the villains will win at the end. So, it is basically in line with Disney's image to certain extent.

In other news story, people also mention Steven Spielberg's deal with Disney to distribute his future films. Those stories claimed that is good deal to Disney as well. I agree but with reservation. It is because the brand of Steven Spielberg is very valuable. The theme of his works are largely family oriented and are in line with Disney as well. However, he is in his sixty already. For a brand name that built on a person rather than with a long lasting theme is only good as long as the person is alive. Also, Spielberg's movie characters are not very transferable that can pass on to generations to come. Mickey mouse is forever cheery and vibrant. Indiana Jones will retire and die, and ET just only came once. So, Marvel's characters are relatively much more durable, Spiderman will long live after Stan Lee goes to see the Lord.

Well, with the acquisition, though it will take few years for some Marvel characters to make some serious $$$ for Disney. However, for audience like you and me, it will be quite interesting to see how Disney will take the Marvel Universe to move further and wider. For me, a non-comic book fan of Marvel, I would be very interested to see what hidden gems among those 5000 characters in the Marvel Universe. To be honest, I didn't know the existence of Iron Man until the movie came out. Therefore, I am sure there will be more interesting things from the Disney+Marvel teams in the years to come. A thumb up to the deal!

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