In an announcement that caught comic book fans by surprise, The Walt Disney Company has purchased Marvel Entertainment for the tidy sum of $4 billion dollars in cash and stock. Details are short at this time, but the press release from Disney said that the move has been approved by both companies’ boards and must now get clearance from the government as well as Marvel shareholders.
If everything goes through, Disney will then have access to the Marvel stable of over 5,000 characters, which includes popular superheros like Iron Man, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and Thor.
What does this mean for Marvel as a company and the industry as a whole? One can hope that it’s a good thing. Marvel now has a stable base of money, much the same way that DC does (because of their relationship with Warner Brothers); however Marvel must now answer to a different set of business people that it never has before, and who knows if or how they may interfere with the publishing arm.
Does this mean we will see Disney animation raiding the publishing arm for ideas on new cartoons? I find it doubtful for now, with many of the more popular characters rights being tied up with different companies (X-Men with Fox, Spider-Man with Sony). Plus, you throw Marvel Studios (the film arm of the company) into the mix, and you have to be concerned how things will go. Marvel Studios was just getting on its feet and has a bright future with Iron Man 2 coming out next year, followed by films based on Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers. We will just have to wait and see how this deal affects those films. One hopes that Disney sees the good job Marvel Studios has done so far and stays out of its way, much as they do with Pixar.