Monday, August 31, 2009

The House of Ideas bought by the Mouse of Ideas

Image at left purloined from

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this morning's news that Disney is buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.

Personally, I always felt better about reading Marvel because, unlike DC, it WASN'T owned by a giant multinational corporation. It isn't that Marvel's not big already, but prior to this they didn't have an even bigger company telling 'em what to do.

Sadly, the transaction also kills my dream of one day buying Marvel Comics and reviving Shogun Warriors and Rom: Spaceknight.

But the main concern raised on some of the message boards has been whether Disney will start to either censor -- or cause Marvel to self-censor -- some of its edgier publications. It's a real concern. Would Marvel writers be able to, say, treat Tony Stark as the virtual villain he was in Civil War if Disney thinks it will "hurt the brand?"

It's a valid concern. DC has been owned by AOL-Time Warner (or its predecessor companies) for decades and there have been rumors about reduced creative freedom. On the other hand, DC has put out its sophisticated Vertigo line, which has issued some of the best comics of the last 20 years. Longtime comic blogger Rich Johnston brought up 10 important questions about the deal today, including the following relevant to editorial freedom:

[Marvel Editor in Chief] 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?

It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

No comments: