Marvisney: Dave Answers All Your Questions

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Presuming that you’re Rich Johnson.

Dave responds to Rich Johnston’s Ten Questions Marvel And Disney Still Have To Answer (which you should read first, before reading here further):

1) I would imagine one of two things. First, Disney pulls the title licensing agreement and transfers everything to Marvel. Second, DIsney spends a bit of extra cash and buys Boom, merging it with Marvel.

2) This is a non-question. Marvel’s been moving towards direct distubution for years now. Sorry, Diamond, but you’re probably going to get screwed here.

3) We’re going to directly answer that question on our next podcast. The short answer is that this is another non-issue. After all, Disney produces such adult fare as Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy through their ownership of ABC.

4) Yes, Marvel can squeeze competitors out. Especially if Diamond goes under becasue of this merger. However, if digital publishing becomes the industry norm along with small print runs, then it becomes harder for Marvel to be the Microsoft of the industry.

5) $4 billion is a bit much. But consider that the new wave of movies under Marvel are gaining momentum again. Iron Man pulled in $300 million. Spider-Man alone is worth a couple billion; even a 50/50 revenue split with Sony makes it worth 1 quarter of the purchace price. And that’s not including X-Men and the upcoming Thro, Cap, and Avengers movies or anything else from the Marvel line. My guess is that Disney recoups it’s cost here in about 4 or 5 years.

6) Again, we’ll talk about how all the arms of Disney interact with each other in the next podcast. Also, Disney faced boycotts over benefits to gay employees and special ‘gay familiy’ days. The protestors have all been told politely to get off the lawn.

7) My guess is, becasue Disney is currently undergoing a $1 billion makeover for California Adventure, and the lack of a Marvel Attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, this means the time is right to add an extention to California Adventures that is Marvel themed. When the contract with Universal is up, so long and thanks for the memories.

8) No. Becasue this is no way Howard the Duck can be made any better. It s the pinnacle of awesomeness.

9) The Hulk. Sorry, Bob.

10) They’ve done holographic pogs beck in the 90’s. If things go wrong, and a Jonas Brothers comic book would be an indication that things are indeed wrong, it’s not that far of a stretch.

(Note: This was previously in the Comments section, but deserves to be on the front page).

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Last Post Of August: Don’t Stop

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Kyle here;

So for my last hurrah from New Jersey, I made a pilgrimage to Holsten’s in Bloomfield. It’s an old-fashioned neighborhood soda fountain and lunch place, and for those who aren’t in the know, this is where the final scene of The Sopranos was filmed.

We managed to park in only one try.

The place was a neighborhood institution even before the famous scene was filmed there – but obviously is even more so now.

The interior. The empty table in the center of the shot is where Tony sat in the scene.

The Tony table.

At the meat store across the street – but a very “New Jersey” sight.

David Chase mentioned that filming The Sopranos was a little difficult, because New Jersey had changed so much since he grew up there – richer, more gentrified, less authentic. Some vestiges of the old stuff – like Holsten’s – remain, but all too often he had to carefully position his shots in order to not have another ubiquitous, homogeneous chain Starbucks or a Whole Foods in there somewhere. As someone who grew up in New Jersey in the 70s and 80s, I can attest that this is absolutely true. If you ask me whether New Jersey is really like what you see in The Sopranos, I’d have to say that it was… when I was growing up, in times that I suppose are getting to be a while ago now.

You can’t go home again, so they say – and I guess it’s true.

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The Call Of The Mouse

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

The Wall Street Journal has a minute by minute analysis of the Disney-Marvel investor conference call. Some interesting stuff. Read into it what you will.

Also, you can listen to a webcast of the entire call here.

(Picture shamelessly jacked from Bleeding Cool).

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Come to the Dark Side. We Have Cookies.

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Unfortunately, long experience has given fandom plenty to fear with this buyout. Like I mentioned before, Disney has several hard-earned reputations that justify these fears. New Disney looks like it’s trying to shed them, but whether the attempt is successful or not remains to be seen. So, here’s how this particular paving of good intentions can lead right into downtown Hell.

1) X-Men, the Tween Years. Disney does have a tendency of putting every tween star they develop into multiple crossovers. ‘Kim Possible’, as fun as the series was, is a prime example. Miley Cyrus had the lead voice in ‘Bolt’. And Ponyo features the voices of Noah Cyrus (Miley’s little sis), and Frankie Jonas (little bro to the Jonas Brothers). And now I must go shower with Clorox and sandpaper for actually knowing of them. From Batman:The Animated Series through JLU, Bruce Timm had incredible voice actors who also happened to be minor celebrities. As long as Disney/Marvel can resist the urge to voice Zac Effron as Spider-Man, Miley as MJ Watson, Ashley Tisdale as Sue Storm, Raven-Symone as Storm, and Christy Carlson Romano as Jean Grey, things should be alright. Well…maybe Christy as Jean. That would be hot. And now I must shower in Clorox again…

2) Direct to DVD animation and movies. While I applaud John Lassiter on getting rid of the direct to DVD animation sequels before they started making such pieces of crap based on my beloved Robin Hood and The Sword In The Stone, Disney still skirts the fringes of the issue with things like the ‘Disney Fairies’ and ‘Disney Princess’ DVD’s. I realize these lines are meant for young girls, but as the proud uncle of a baby girl, I wouldn’t let my niece watch any of those once she’s old enough. From Duck Tales to Gargoyles to Kim Possible, Disney has shown that when they put effort into an animated series, the results are spectacular. They’ve also shown that when they rush things to make a quick buck, the results are horrendous.

3) You Can’t Do That With Disney. The censorship issue is another big one. Like I said, I have faith in John Lassiter to lay down the ‘Clobberin Time’ on the atmosphere of censorship at Disney. But I’ve put my faith in humanity before and gotten the scars to show for it. Bottom line: Marvel characters were born out of a desire for more mature storytelling. They were designed to reflect our own inner flaws and lives. While I agree that the voyeur aspect that comics have taken on in the past 10-15 years needs to be eliminated, the core of ordinary people with extraordinary powers and ordinary problems needs to remain. From Iron Man’s alcoholism, to Ben Grimm’s feelings of isolation, to the X-Men analogy of the struggle of minority groups to find acceptance, even to Northstar’s on the spot ‘let’s be the first company to do this’ declaration of homosexuality, it all needs to stay in. As I’ve said many times before, adaptations of popular characters are ruined by re-imagining them outside the intent of their origins.

So, there we have it. Like everything in life, there’s potential for both good and bad in this decision. This time, though, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this.

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Nerd Wars: A New Hope

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

So, let’s start off on a positive note. Why is Disney buying Marvel such a good idea? On the surface, the companies don’t have similar storytelling philosophies and this whole thing seems like a bigger publicity marriage than Tom Cruise and…well, anyone. So, in no particular order, here’s why this is a good deal.

1) Disney needs a comics publisher. Simple enough. Disney had an excellent run long ago with it’s own comics titles like Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, The Beagle Boys, and Super-Goof. Yes, these were children’s comics. But like many bits of bygone children’s entertainment, they had a smart, adult sensibility to them as well. Like the classic Warner Brothers cartoons, these were comics that parents could share and enjoy with their children. Disney’s been looking to getting back into the comics industry for a while now, and this whole buyout may have been started by talks they were having with Stan Lee earlier in the year or late last year. Again, Disney and Stan Lee raised a few eyebrows considering most of his recent work has been overshadowed by his ‘dirty old man’ projects like Stripperella and self-promotion stunts like ‘Who Wants to be a Superhero’. But Stan has also put out some quality work the past few years. His ‘Just Imagine’ run at DC where he got to re-invent the classic DC characters showed that he stll new what he was doing and didn’t have to rely on exploitation.

2) Steve Jobs. While I mentioned John Lasister and Robert Iger as the two men that can make this deal really work, there is a third person waiting in the shadows that can really change everything. Again, part of the Disney buyout of Pixar put Steve Jobs on the Board of Directors for Disney. With Steve Jobs involved, this deal has the potential to completely revolutionize comics distribution. I wouldn’t be surprised if before the end of next year, or even this year, the entire Marvel catalog and comics archive will be available on iTunes as well as digital publishing of comics to go alongside the traditional print run; something I’ve been advocating that the comics industry needs to survive for a couple years now.

3) Marvel Manhattan at Disney themeparks. Let’s face it: California Adventure really wasn’t as big a hit as Disney wanted. They’ve been continually redesigning it as time goes on. Turning a good chunk of that property, and similar land in Orlando, into a Disney Imagineer created Marvel Manhattan is just pure win. If only for the fact that you know they’ll figure out how to have Spider-Man swinging between buildings for real. Considering that Universal already has their Marvel attraction in Orlando, they just may license the IP out to them. Still, with the big redevelopment push going on at California Adventure and no competing attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, it is perfect timing for the Anaheim park.

4) Marvel needs a film and animation studio. Strike that. Make that: Marvel !!!NEEDS!!! a film and animation studio. If I knew the code to make NEEDS flash, I’d add that in too. This is critical for Marvel. One of the reasons why their comics films have been so uneven sice X-Men started the new wave is that Marvel doesn’t have a single studio that oversees production. Film quality has even varied within studios, as seen in X-Men and Fantastic Four, both from 20th Century Fox. Now, with Iron Man, that’s changed a bit, but Marvel still doesn’t have a ‘traditional’ studio in the sense of the term. They have more control than before, true, but they still have to work with studios on things like distribution. And you can bet that Paramount, Sony, Universal, and all the rest have their little inputs they want included in the films. Now with Disney, Marvel has a bit more bargaining power by having the 800 lbs gorilla standing behind them when they deal with these studios. I’m sure distribution rights will still remain with all the current parties involved, but in the end, Marvel Studios has a bit more say about the content of the films. Not that it’s really been a problem up to now besides every electronic system in Spider-Man having the Sony tag prominently featured, but this is a good ‘nip it in the bud’ solution as long as Disney lets Marvel Studios create in peace. Also, having an actual, modernized, and talented animation studio linked directly to it for the first time ever gives Marvel the chance to make some truly great cartoons. I’m excited about the Studio Madhouse Iron Man anime, and the limited Lionsgate Animation movies were excellent as well, but this possibility has me totally jazzed. Just as Bruce Timm gave WB/DC a serious creative shot in the arm with the animation series he oversaw, Disney and Marvel can do the same thing with their properties as long as they have the right individual involved. I’m going to put forth Mark McCorkle and Robert Schooley as the perfect candidates for the job. As the creative force behind both Kim Possible and Sky High, they show that they know how to do an excellent animated series as well as understanding the comic book genre six ways from Sunday.

So, like I said before, there a great potential for this deal to be truly wonderful. However, it also has the possibility of being a total disaster.

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It’s As If Millions of Shrill, Asthmatic Voices Cried Out From Their Parent’s Basement In Terror…

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Dave here,

So, normally, I would wait until the weekend to discuss the House of Mouse buying the House of Ideas. And we will go over it in the next podcast, believe me. But something this big deserved some immediate analysis an commentary. And the message boards and fan sites are providing no end of commentary. The general consensus of the fan gestalt being that this is the Seventh Seal opening and Hell is now unleashed on Earth. Which I’m sure one day will be brought to both visual and literal reality by some kind of Michael Bey/Roland Emmerich film collaboration…

Fans are understandably upset over this. Disney has a well-earned reputation for being a soulless, joyless, corporate entity that churns out children’s entertainment in much the same way as a meat grinder churns out ground beef. Disney also has an equally well deserved reputation for ruthless censoring of any subject matter that smacks of mature or adult content. So yeah, quite understandably, more than a few people have a problem with this buyout.

Please note that while I say I understand the negative responses, I don’t necessarily agree with them. That’s because there are two men that give this buyout the hope of being something greater.

John Lassiter and Robert Iger.

As part of the deal where Disney purchased Pixar, John Lassiter was made the head of creative development at Disney. Robert Iger was brought on as the president of Disney in the wake of the shareholder revolt lead by Roy Disney a few years ago that ousted Michael Eisner. These two men effectively run Disney from both a creative and business standpoint.

John Lassiter has never shied away from mature themes in his stories. He also is willing to take big risks; none bigger in my opinion than basing a rather expensive project around the hope that film-goers would identify with a movie where there was little human dialog and humans were portrayed in a generally negative light. He has the clout to stand up to the ‘morality censors’ and ensure that topics like Tony Stark’s alcoholism and Northstar’s homosexuality remain intact.

Robert Iger has shown a commitment to moving Disney into the forefront of the new media revolution. He’s been a staunch advocate of doing simultaneous releases in theaters and on DVD, much to the dismay of theater owners. He sees the trends that the entertainment industry is taking and he wants Disney to be in the lead. Iger has also staved off the morality police in terms of ABC’s programming, giving us shows like ‘Lost’, ‘Desperate Housewives’, and (for better or worse) ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

So yes. There is the potential for this to be the biggest disaster in comics since the publication of ‘Seduction of the Innocent’. But there is also hope. And for what it’s worth, John Lassiter alone has earned the right for this cynical fan to give him that hope.

Just so I don’t totally spam the screen with one ginormous entry, I’m going to post 2 follow-up entries: one on why this is a good match and one on why this can herald the end of civilization.

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Episode 12: Batarangs Abound!

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle


Categories: Episodes

Breaking News

August 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Announced this morning: Disney is buying Marvel Entertainment in a deal valued at $4 billion dollars.

You know, when I said that Marvel needs a “personality” at it head, I didn’t mean Bob Iger.

Well, I guess we know what we’ll be talking about for most of next week’s podcast.

P.S. So Steve Jobs is on the board of Disney, which now owns Marvel… digital comics distribution, anybody? Just in time for a digital comics application to be the killer app on the upcoming Apple tablet?

And yes, digital comics have been tried before. But not by people with Apple’s combination of aesthetic sensibility, technical knowledge, and business sense.

P.P.S. It seems the merger may have been a surprise to most of Marvel’s talent. So says io9.

UPDATE: Some details from the Disney/Marvel investor conference call.

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Harry Potter And The Blah Blah Blah…

August 30th, 2009 by Kyle

Kyle here;

In honor of having my Mom bring me along to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I thought I’d post my two favorite reviews of the Harry Potter series:

Spengler’s review.

E. Michael Jones’ review.

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No wonder he drinks so much…

August 30th, 2009 by Kyle

Dave here,

So, for the 70th anniversary of Marvel, there’s a poll up asking fans to decide the greatest panels of all time.

And yeah, they really pulled out some great ones. Jean Grey rising as Phoenix. Pete getting bit by the spider. The death of Captain America. The death of Electra. The death of Gwen Stacey. The death of Green Goblin. (Sense a trend here?)

But no Iron Man.

Nothing from Demon In a Bottle. Nothing from the first Armor Wars. No disbanding the Avengers. Not even the splash page of Tony being shot by Kathy Dare in #242

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Bupkus.

For a character whose life is as defined by sacrifice and personal tragedy as much as Spider Man or Cyclops, there have been dozens of Iron Man panels worthy of at least consideration. But considering the way Marvel’s been treating the character since Civil War, I suppose this is par for the course.

So go ahead and take a shot of 24 year, single malt scotch, Tony. We won’t judge you for giving in to this rather depressing and unwarented snub.

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