So, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month or so I’m sure you heard that Disney purchased Marvel Comics. For the most part this doesn’t bother me too much. These kinds of things happen all the time. I understand that Disney has many departments and isn’t necessarily the evil empire a lot of folks make it out to be. I realize they’ve been taking a hands-off approach to a lot of things and will likely do so with Marvel for the most part (maybe getting more involved with the Marvel video games and the syndication of the older Marvel cartoons than anything else). I’ve also read over plenty of articles stating that this is a good thing for Marvel and will give them the financial backing they so desperately need right now.
But, that said, there is one little thing that worries me.
How will this affect future Marvel films? Will I want to go and see them?
I understand that they’ll be better funded. I also know that there are plenty of folks who don’t like a lot of Marvel’s recent films and think this will only make them better. As it happens I’ve actually liked the majority of the Marvel films that have been coming out lately, warts and all, but that’s a different subject.
The issue I have about the quality of future movies will likely come down to whether or not Disney wants to put their name on them. For the next couple of years that’s not going to be a problem since Marvel’s current film contracts with various studios aren’t being affected. It’s what happens after those contracts end that concerns me.
Disney does plenty of things through secondary studios (Touchstone, Miramax, etc). If it goes that route I don’t see there being too big a difference in the movies except for an increase in budget along with whatever side effects there will be as a result of the terms of standing contracts with individual writers, directors and actors. Though, admittedly, the contract issue is usually a concern no matter WHAT studio is involved.
If, on the other hand, Disney DOES want to put their name on the movies, going through their main studio – Walt Disney Pictures – then I believe I see shadows on the horizon.
I realize that the quality of the live-action movies to come out of Walt Disney Pictures has improved vastly since such euthanasia-inspiring wonders as Operation Dumbo Drop and the heavily-butchered adaptations of My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget. Somewhere around the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (or “Ca-Ruh-BEE-in” if you’re going with the official Disney mispronunciation), characters in live-action Disney films started behaving somewhat closer to the way actual human beings do.
However, there still remain quite a few issues over what can and cannot be done in a movie with Disney’s name on it. Since I’ve already brought up the Pirates franchise, let’s stick with that as an example. Spoilers ahoy, by the way, in case you’re waiting for the Mayan Apocalypse to pass by before you rent the DVDs. I liked the first movie quite a bit. The second was pretty good too if you ignored the fact that they messed around with the characters’ motivations a bit and that just about every third word spoken in the film was “pirate” (though, granted, the first one suffered from that as well).
In my opinion, the third movie was decent, but I had a fairly serious problem with it. I’ve heard that the 2nd and 3rd movies were made at the same time so I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this as much in Dead Man’s Chest, but it seemed as though At World’s End was seriously dumbed down. It seemed as though EVERY joke had to beat the audience over the head. Everything had to be extremely obvious, obnoxious and over-the-top.
Now, I know that to an extent it was SUPPOSED to be over-the-top. I’m confident in saying that I enjoy swashbuckling adventure as much as the next guy. But it was still too much. Maybe there was a good excuse for it. Maybe they had to rush the edit to get the movie out on time and ended up giving it to a bunch of interns. I don’t know the true reason, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that someone at Disney wanted to make sure the movie was marketable to the lowest common denominator and made that known to whoever was cutting it together at the 11th hour.
And, of course, there are Disney’s standards and practices to consider. I’ve heard plenty of my friends say that they love the wedding scene that takes place in the 3rd movie on board a ship in the middle of a massive sword fight. I’ll be kind here and say that I know they tried – they really did – but it just didn’t work for me or for my badly-abused suspension of disbelief. Especially after I realized that the scene likely only came into being because the happy couple have sex near the end of the movie.
After all, you can’t do things like having intercourse out of wedlock in a movie with Disney’s name on it, can you? I’m sure there are quite a few other things you can’t do as well.
THAT is what worries me about future Marvel movies. How much of a straight jacket will there be on this massive Avengers initiative that’s now building steam? Will Wolverine have to quit smoking – AGAIN? Will Spider-Man have to stop and explain every single joke he makes in the heat of combat?
Only time will tell. Until then it is my fervent wish that these two companies just stay good friends without taking their relationship to the next level. I’ll be listening out in the hope that we don’t hear the dread toll of wedding bells – because if we do, we’ll know it won’t be long before Marvel assumes the position.
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