News of Disney's acquisition of Marvel might have inspired nightmares of a Mickey vs. Hulk spinoff or out-of-work actors dressing as Wolverine for the Electrical Parade. But Walt Disney Co. president and CEO Bob Iger put those worries to rest when he spoke about his company's acquisition of Marvel studios today at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
In his opening address at the first annual Disney fan convention, Iger's brief Marvel-related comments offered promise for the merger of the two behemoths. At a press conference later in the afternoon, Iger expanded on Disney's plans for Marvel and respect for the legacy they've already established.
1) Marvel stays Marvel. Paying homage to "The Mouse"'s tendency to water down material for its family audience, Iger addressed the big worry. "There will be no Disneyfication of Marvel," he said in a press conference. He added that Marvel will continue to work independently. "We plan to keep Marvel as an entity and to respect both the talent that is there, working as one, and also respect what Marvel is and what the essence of Marvel is."
2) It's all about story and character. Twice in his address, Iger referred to the characters and storytelling in the Marvel universe. Later, he added that the studio behind Captain Jack Sparrow and Donald Duck recognizes good fictional talent when they see it. "It's a business we're very familiar with," Iger said. "Well-known characters and weird stories and a product that transcends gender and age and geographic territories."
3) For now, no Tony Stark's Haunted Mansion. During his morning address, Iger touted the possibilities of Disney's global resources to expand and tie in with Marvel. Later, he specified that Disney will respect previous Marvel deals. For example, Universal theme parks currently run Marvel-themed rides. Also, studios like Fox and Sony still distribute franchises like X-Men and Spider-Man, respectively. "There are also some legacy agreements that Marvel has in a variety of ways, to the theme park with Universal, to the distribution of the live-action films," Iger said. "So until some of these things work their course, or until we get a better sense when the deal closes, there isn't much planning that can be done until we reach an agreement."
4) Pixar is paving the way for Marvel. Remember when Disney thought they could do without Pixar? They were going to make their own version of Toy Story 3 and everything. Then they realized that only Pixar is Pixar. Well, same with Marvel. Iger even brought in John Lasseter to help him make the case to Marvel. "There is a whole culture attached that was a huge part of their success, and I didn't want to do anything that messed with that culture," Iger said. "I had John Lasseter [talk to Marvel] with me and then without me, so that he could talk to them more about Disney. He gave them some perspective on that, and it was very positive."
5) As Hannah Montana says, "It's the best of both worlds." Rather than harp on potential conflicts, edgy subtext vs. lucrative merchandising, etc., Iger focused on the potential for pooling Marvel and Disney resources. They already travel the same ground in creating story and characters for movies, television, literature and more. "When you look at it as a part of the Walt Disney Co., the presence of Marvel is virtually in everything that we're in," Iger said. "You can expect that over time, that's what you will see. We became impressed with the talent of Marvel as we got to know them better."