Will It Be "Marvey" or "Dismal"?

You know when you hear some news, and you feel like you should react about it in a certain way (or in some way, period), but it turns out you don't? Well, that's what happened when I read the recent news that Disney is buying out Marvel. I don't have any particularly strong opinions about Disney one way or another -- I'm a fan of a few of their movies, mostly from the late '70s to mid '80s, but that's about it. And I'm not all that emotionally invested in Marvel, either -- I totally dig the "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies, but am not much into super-hero comics otherwise. I venture to guess that we consumers will see little to no evidence of Disney's acquisition of Marvel, except that characters from the Marvel Universe will probably take up a fairly high-profile residence at the Disney theme parks ... and we might see the Disney production company "tag" (whatever the little five-second logo thingie is called in the industry) alongside the Marvel "tag" at the beginning of any future Marvel hero movies.

Frankly, they would be wise to keep the Marvel brand separate from the Disney brand, at least when it comes to the existing line of comic books; somehow I imagine the hardcore Marvel Universe readers would balk a bit at the thought of being seen buying Disney comics. But I doubt we'll need to worry in that regard; I'm sure Disney isn't all too eager to "sully" their family-friendly logo by slapping it on books featuring masked avengers brutalizing ruthless crime lords. And from there comes the one worry that's probably on a bunch of people's minds: Will Disney demand that the Marvel Universe clean itself up, and become less violent and more family-friendly? Somehow I doubt it -- the powers that be at Disney are smart enough not to dump four billion dollars into an acquisition, only to run the risk of watering it down and effectively flushing it straight down the crapper.

Hmm ... I guess I did have more to say than I expected to on this subject, despite having very little emotional investment in the scenario or its consequences ... at least, as it pertains to any particular companies. It does, however, bug me in the larger context of an ever-continuing series of corporate buyouts in the entertainment industry. The Disney/Marvel deal is the one I've had the most trepidations about since the Sony/BMG merger in 2004 -- but that one bothered me more, as I'm far more into music than any other facet of entertainment. (But then, record company mergers do have their advantages when it comes to being able to release comprehensive anthologies of artists who have a tendency to hop labels.) One would think that these buyouts and mergers would have to be stopped at some point to avoid concerns over ant-trust or monopolies in any given industry.

It makes me wonder if these corporate CEO's have ever seen that cartoon where the little fish gets eaten by a slightly bigger fish, and then that one gets eaten by a bigger fish, and so on. Such as it is with the entertainment world, where smaller companies progressively get absorbed into larger ones. Are they forgetting that this will eventually just leave one fish in the water? (And isn't it in that same cartoon where a character carrying dynamite is swallowed by that super-big fish and blown up? Okay, maybe that's carrying the analogy out on a limb.) They also need to be careful of the old adage, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." If these mega-publishers end up collapsing under their own weight from a bad business decision of some sort, they'll take down all the smaller companies they bought out.

But then, as I said, Disney is pretty smart, so that probably won't happen. And even if it does, and Marvel somehow falls victim to corporate foibles, the comic book industry is one of those that seems (at least, at my level of scrutiny, which admittedly isn't intense) to do best at re-inventing and re-invigorating itself when it needs to. So, let's have positive thoughts about the Disney/Marvel merger ... we might as well, since we can't undo it.

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