Marvel – A Fan’s View

Editor: Please welcome Barb Webb of the excellent ComicBookMom.com with her first post.

In 2009, when the Disney Company announced the acquisition of Marvel, mixed feelings from fans on both sides of the cartoon fence flooded the Internet.

Disney fans wondered how characters like Deadpool and Blade would mesh with the Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah cast of cuddles.

Marvel fans feared their beloved superheroes would get “soft” (picture the Hulk with pink Minnie Mouse ears.) After all, Disney made its name on happy-ever-after. Marvel on kickass, complex heroes with not-so-family-friendly vices.

Bigger concerns plagued investors and merchandising gurus. Marvel had already locked some of their major characters, such as the X-Men and Spider Man, into movie deals with other film companies. Could Disney pull off movie magic hits with lesser known superheroes?

After the box office mojo of Thor and Captain America, chased by the staggering record breaking opener of The Avengers, its hard to deny that Disney has managed to profitably strike balance between cartoon whimsy and superhero action.

The innovative and imaginative merger success isn’t limited to the movie screens. Disney has effectively filled the gaps, breathing new life to the Marvel’s children’s book publishing business, releasing hero origin story Apps narrated by Stan Lee and launching the new Marvel Super Heroes Magazine in May 2012.

Disney fans can also get their Marvel character fix through merchandise offered in the theme parks and even catch a ride on The Avengers monorail at Disney World. Rumors are the Mouse may add some Spidey friends to the mix of future attractions.

Hard-core Marvel fans are still uncomfortable with the Disney acquisition because no matter what angle you look at the merger from, Marvel characters are square pegs in the idyllic round Disney mold. We’re not likely to see Dumbo on a drinking binge with Iron Man or watch Aladdin follow The Punisher on a revenge execution spree.

Marvel’s character baggage is heavy but Disney seems to be carrying the load well. Their clever, slow integration approach with the two companies, is clearly working.

Less than three weeks after its premiere, The Avengers has surpassed the 1 billion mark in gross box office sales. Disney and Marvel haven’t just struck a chord in existing Marvel superhero fans; they’re reaching out and creating a whole new arena of Marvel superhero followers.

If this is the indicator by which to measure the future of Marvel with its powerhouse Disney backing, then the future looks mighty good. How do you feel about Disney and Marvel so far?

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