September 01, 2009


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While I'm Thinking About It

I can only assume you heard the big news

Disney buys Marvel.

Twitter was filled with all the predictable jokes this morning, and I'm sure I didn't come close to seeing even half of them. Many of them involved nonsense like Spider-Man having to go around wearing a Mickey hat, things like that. But--if one wanted to seriously consider the notion, there is the potential for incorporating certain select characters into the Magic Kingdom. How about Black Panther & Storm or Ka-Zar in Adventureland? Put Reed Richards in charge of Tomorrowland. Western heroes like Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid, and the Phantom Rider (one of these things is not like the others!) would seem made for Frontierland. Gambit's a Cajun, so stick him in New Orleans Square. Ooh! Ghost Rider in the Haunted Mansion! Willie Lumpkin as the postmaster on Main Street!

Some of those are obviously more of the too-easy jokes. But there is some logic to some of them, and these are characters that, unlike Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Disney owns outright.

Except it won't be happening anytime soon. That first bullet point from the linked article reads "Existing licensing and distribution deals should remain where they are." The Marvel Super Heroes won't be leaving Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando anytime soon. Nor will Marvel Toys (formerly known at Toy Biz) suddenly start producing, well, much of anything (I fully expect the toy branch goes bye-bye before too long). Boom! Studios gets to keep publishing their Pixar and Muppet and Donald comics.

What I think it boils down to, is this. When Disney bought the Family Channel from Fox back in 2001, Saban Entertainment was tossed in, possibly at no extra charge. This gave Disney the 1967 Spider-Man show (". . . does whatever a spider can" and now the song's in your head all night. You're welcome), Spidey and His Amazing Friends, and every Marvel cartoon from the mid-to-late nineties (Spider-Man, X-Men, Marvel Action Hour starring the Fantastic Four and Iron Man, Spider-Man Unlimited, The Incredible Hulk, Avengers: United They Stand, and Silver Surfer). They also got a little thing called the Power Rangers, but that's not important right now.

If you look at that list, two things may become apparent. First, multiple movies have been made out of those properties (well, except Avengers, but they're working on that). Second, except for X-Men, none of those cartoons are available on DVD. But now the company that owns the rights to the shows also owns the company that owns the trademarks on the characters. It may be too late in the game for this year, but I expect there's going to be a lot of stuff released in time for next Christmas.

Too bad so few of the shows in question were worth watching.

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