Disney and Marvel? As an illustrator, as an artist, as an appreciator of all things cartoon and comic; heck as someone that used to be a kid, this buyout just doesn’t sit well with me. Why would Disney, THE pinnacle of family entertainment choose to side-step their core competency (wholesome, family-values based entertainment) to buy Marvel Entertainment?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel, but I’m confused with the combination of the Disney family values and the edgy, spandex-clad, buxom breadth of sexuality and violence that Marvel generates. I definitely see a brand disconnect here.
Disney seems to be diverting from their core competency to skirt the need to be truthful and relevant (let alone innovative) to their audience (very unlike them). A move that both I and Jonathan Salem Baskin, over at Baskin Dim Bulb blog and I think may be a bit like cheating – or strip mining as Mr. Baskin calls it. His analogy is dead on.
It feels like strip mining to me.
I wonder what comes next. I’m surprised that the biggies haven’t started producing “updated” (i.e. twisted and exploited) versions of the classics; Moby Dick and hundreds of other greats and near-greats at public domain, so the cost of content would be free, and any kid who paid some attention should recognize the characters. Wouldn’t realizing, say, Nicholas Nickleby only with supernatural powers (or a robot white whale) be somewhat of a competitive barrier to another version coming to market?
Where does it end?
Okay, I may be targeted for death by all of the Mikey Mouse fan-boys out there, but rather than buy the biggest superhero and fantasy comic entertainment brand out there, why wouldn’t Disney just do it themselves? Disney created the road map to character entertainment. If they wanted to get into the superhero biz, why not just call the creative department, the illustrators and story board artists and say “GOOFY SMASH… RooAAaar….” (envision silly Hulk/Dog-thing here)? Did they take the easy way out? Isn’t this kinda’ like having Poindexter take your mid-terms for you?
Marvel has managed to create, foster and perpetuate some of the most well known characters, books, movies and fans that any brand could ever want. But even Stan Lee, the glorious creator of X-Men and Spider Man, seems to be wringing his hands, waiting for the check from Disney (with ALL THOSE ZEROES). Have Stan and the other creature creators at Marvel sold out?
What happens from here? What does Disney Land / World look like in the future? Do we expect the brass at Disney corporate to start censoring Wolverine? Will Jean Gray need to be illustrated wearing shawls or over-sized sweaters, from now on (gasp)?
Food for thought.
Until Next time…
Keep Cooking (Incredible Branding Powers)!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef