Disney buys Marvel: who benefits?

Unless you were dead this morning, you’ve heard the news – Disney has bought Marvel Comics for four billion dollars. Cue the speculation machines and “lolz Spaderman vs Mickey moose” arguments, right?

Rather than tread that well-worn territory, we’re going to attempt to divide this mega-deal into the pros and cons for both Disney and Marvel. As you might imagine, there are widespread repercussions for gamers, moviegoers, comics fans, animation geeks, just about anyone who follows anything, honestly. So then, let’s get to it.

Contributing editors: Chris Antista and Brett Elston


Marvel Comics: Pros

Immediate animation benefits – As dear as the ‘90s X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons are to an entire generation (including most GR editors), they pale when compared to DC’s animated offerings. Even recent series like Wolverine and the X-Men don’t stand up to DC classics like Batman: The Animated Series. However, now that Marvel’s treasure chest of 5000-ish characters belongs to Disney, expect to see a surge of high-quality superhero animation, be it in the form of daily shows or, in our wildest dreams, a full-on Pixar film starring Marvel’s best characters. Wrangling different heroes into one movie is difficult enough, but when they each have special-effects-heavy powers that drive up budgets in a matter of seconds, animated alternatives start making a lot more financial sense.


Above: If a game studio could pull this off in 2006, Pixar’s efforts in 2012 would be phenomenal

An industry expert to guide their franchises - Nothing soothes our fears more than knowing John Lasseter, the producer or director of every Pixar and Disney movie you’ve cared about in the past 10 years, has near-complete control over Disney’s creative output. Now that Marvel is included in that umbrella of production, Lasseter will undoubtedly be roped into meetings regarding Marvel’s next big thing.

A single home for their films – Marvel’s heroes have been loaned out to various companies over the years, including Fox (X-Men, Fantastic Four), Sony (Spider-Man, Ghost Rider) and Universal (Hulk). As any reader of comics knows, the real treat is when these heroes meet, fight or team up, and with so many studios arguing over who should be paid for what, the possibility of Spidey teaming up with Wolverine was exceedingly unlikely. After the Marvel/Disney deal finalizes and all these prior deals dissolve (assuming Disney doesn’t allow them to be renewed), all Marvel properties could exist under one roof, with no petty squabbling over who owns what.

Paramount and Marvel Studios still have five films to burn through, Sony still has the rights to a few more Spider-Man movies and Fox already has three X-Men-related flicks in the works too, so it could very well be 10 years before this fantasy scenario becomes reality.

Kingdom Hearts? - It’s no secret that the Final Fantasy aspect of Kingdom Hearts has dissipated with each new entry. The newest game, 358/2 Days, barely has any mention of Square’s eminent property at all. Is it possible that we could one day see the Kingdom Hearts crew visit the Marvel Universe? Could we play a team that’s Donald, Goofy and the Hulk? As silly as it sounds, our geek boners are ridiculously into the idea.

Above: Remember, everyone thought Disney meeting Final Fantasy was stupid too 

Marvel Comics: Cons

What happens to the games? – Disney Interactive is not large enough to fully handle the myriad Marvel games that release each year, from Ultimate Alliance to the numerous movie tie-ins. Will Disney wrench the franchises back from Activision, THQ and Sega, or will it allow these well-known and beloved series to continue with some kind of Disney payoff? We want to think that Disney’s a savvy company and won’t fiddle too much with Marvel’s goings on (Warner Bros owning DC Comics hasn’t altered a great deal, after all), but the prospect of piles of cash is enough to make anyone behave like a giant corporate dick.

According to an earlier conference call, Disney will reevaluate existing license deals as they expire. Those prior arrangements won’t be completely void until 2019 though, so it appears the near future of Marvel games is unchanged. That said, this quote from Disney’s CFO doesn’t bode well: “As the current agreements in place sunset we will look to exploit the library of characters more broadly.” Uh oh.

Wait… what about Marvel vs Capcom 3? - There’s been no official announcement regarding our most anticipated fighter of the new millennium, but after witnessing the fervor over MvC2’s recent XBLA and PSN release, not to mention Marvel and Capcom’s individual successes at the moment, it’s absurd to think there isn’t a deal in the works. However, now Capcom has to contend with Disney regarding any future use of Marvel’s characters, so this once-likely dream match may never happen. That, or it becomes Marvel vs Disney vs Capcom… which we’re cool with too.

Oh right, the comics - Disney Comics (the company) has had a rough-ass time in the US the past 20 years or so. Seems that no one really wants to read comics based around Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse, or even High School Musical, which adorned the very last issue of Disney Adventures, a Disney propaganda magazine that ran for 17 years and died in 2007. Knowing that Disney can’t manage its own shit properly, will it hover over Marvel EIC Joe Quesada and run the comics into the ground too? Or will it alter Marvel’s deal with the near-monopolistic Diamond Comics Distributors? We think not, but there’s always the chance that some muckity muck will have a “better way” to run a comics company that’s survived for 70 years on its own steam. Well, barring that bit of bankruptcy in 1998.

On the plus side, maybe this will give Marvel a better shot in the global comics market, as Disney’s worldwide presence is significantly more pronounced.

Next page – what it all means for Disney, and who the real winner of this deal is


  • fastrak - September 10, 2009 4:56 p.m.

    big corporation buys out the competition... I think it's a censorship ploy.
  • secretsearcher - September 8, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    Nightcrawler is my favorite X-man, and I have to say I'm not crazy about him jumping around killing cyborgs with swords (as cool as it was). I like the Wolverine and the X-men version of him much more.
  • MATTSHADOW - September 6, 2009 4:36 p.m.

    well if this does happen all the respect for marvel and disney would just disapper
  • lorchan - September 5, 2009 3:24 p.m.

    As much as I loved Disney Adventures as a kid, and when I got a bit older they had some great Pirates of the Caribean comics sometimes, I'm glad their dead. I have a framed page from an early 2006 issue stating that Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) would be the best game of the year. I laugh whenever I see it. Then I cry because I realize the little blue blur is dead inside. Either way, con for the world: The Jonas Brothers are getting a comic. Don't deny it, they will.
  • damagemagnet - September 5, 2009 1:17 p.m.

    I sound like a loon :) (captcha know something we don't!)
  • damagemagnet - September 5, 2009 1:15 p.m.

    I've grown up reading Marvel Comics. Nearly 26 years of stories! If Disney screws them up it will be like someone bad mouthing my parents! I just hope they keep out of the creators way. I never trust anything that only produces sugar sweet smiling wide eyed characters. They are already Disney Zombies. Look at Hannah Montana and HSM. That is puerile crap and has nothing in common with the Marvel Universe. I can't believe how much this worries me! :p
  • Defiance - September 5, 2009 11:41 a.m.

    And cows have only one sex position! The "Mickey meets wolverine in a bar" scenario sound to me pretty stupid. The people at Disney are not fools about he choices they make. Do people really think that Disney will fuse Mickey with others character elements from the Marvel collection? No I think its pretty LAME.
  • blazeinwaze - September 5, 2009 2:32 a.m.

    fing bull why the bloody hell did marvel sell out? if disney plays "family friendly" like microsoft did on the xbox 360 im gonna buy all the disney movies and burn them they better play it smart because marvel isn't for kids anymore its your tens and adults the kids can watch cartoons they do more than enough of that anyways
  • r3d - September 4, 2009 10:28 p.m.

    My concern is the corporate level, where not alot of people here have seen. what happens in the creative team that make the marvel best. Disney will force Marvel to edit themselves creatively? reduce the mature reality theme stories for a G rating. What about movie stars that pissed of disney and would be great for marvel movies. same goes to every company that doesn't follow their rules. If Disney doesn't mess with the quality of Marvel we're ok. BUT do you really think that Corporate policies in the real world won't influence their decisions, because it ain't Politically Correct or it conflicts with their sister companies? then your more ignorant than i thought reader. I only hope that Marvel is still separate with Disney like Pixar is to them; and that Marvel has still the last say with their quality of Product and Disney execs to keep out in the Marvel domain area. gaming spectability 105
  • Lazydidwhat - September 4, 2009 1:23 a.m.

    What are they insane!!!!!!!!!
  • eyesfire2 - September 4, 2009 12:26 a.m.

    (sniffle) now my lifes over they cant handle that power wait hmmmmmmmm this may lead to disey's fall |=]
  • emayekayee - September 3, 2009 3:22 p.m.

    Surprisingly insightful article from the site that usually brings us the "Top 7 Video games that have Boobs and Farts!"............... heheheheheheh farts
  • sadisticgrizzz - September 3, 2009 2:42 p.m.

    who am i kidding this is hell on earth!!
  • MechGyver - September 2, 2009 3:45 p.m.

    I wish Pink Pineapple had bought Marvel instead. (sorry for the spam, keyboard malfuction)
  • MechGyver - September 2, 2009 3:44 p.m.

  • MechGyver - September 2, 2009 3:43 p.m.

  • RAEJagainstthemachine - September 2, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    damn now were gonna have an even more duechey-er spider man hanging out with freakin hannah montana why god
  • pikachu2000 - September 2, 2009 1:01 a.m.

    First things first. I know you guys can come up with a better name than "Nerd 9/11". This DIS-VEL (DISney marVEL) deal only cover entertainment media, not science (because nerds love science). The name "Nerd 9/11" is very desrespectful to the real event that the name is based on and could you come up with a less offensive name than that? I bet that some of us have this exact same reaction when Time Warner/Warner Bros. brought DC, it just history repeating itself once again. Companies love this merging crap like crack. They better not get too big or the Supreme Court will lay the smackdown on their @$$. Disney and Time Warner is just like Coke and Pepsi. Disney is to Marvel as Coke is to Powereade. Time Warner is to DC as Pepsi is to Gatorade. And they are doing everything they can to wipe the other company off the face of the Earth. See a pattern?
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - September 2, 2009 12:29 a.m.

    As was stated in the article, Disney owns a great deal of "mature" content. No need to worry about the very very "T-Rated" Marvel universe.
  • Doctalen - September 1, 2009 11:34 p.m.

    Once I read the title I just kinda gave up. Not much of a comic book fan but the idea of Disney taking Marvel and all their characters is just blasphemy. Currently the majority of marvel superhero games just suck badly. But with Disney thrown in I have little to no hope for any future superhero games. Financially a great move by Disney but morally its worse then killing Jesus and bringing him back thousands of times in front of the most devote Christian.

Showing 1-20 of 113 comments

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