The big news today was that Disney is buying Marvel. On the one hand this is good for Marvel, as they’ll be able to take advantage of Disney’s distribution and marketing apparatus, which are pretty much universal (quick, sing me the Mickey Mouse Club theme song! I bet you can, even though the show hasn’t been on the air in decades). On the other hand, it’s further degredation of our culture by putting more of it in fewer hands. Not that Marvel is the greatest. I mean, they were still a corporation and out to make money above everything else. But now, they’re part of a really big corporation that now owns a vast majority of our cultural iconography. Disney now has, not just their own stable of characters, but also owns Pixar’s back catalog, the Muppets and now the Marvel Universe.* Basically, everything Time Warner doesn’t own (which is pretty much DC comics and Hanna Barbara). The vast majority of American pop culture is now owned by two corporations.
I’m not so much worried about the dilution of Marvel into a kid-friendly commodity. Jokes about a Disneyfied young Wolverine movie are somewhat exaggerated, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spider Man swinging around the fairy tale castle next time I visit Disney Land. Which strikes me as silly and sad in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not like Marvel isn’t chock full of crap I couldn’t care less about. I’m not even as enamored of their classic lineup of super heroes as I once was and part of me would like to see some editorial shaping of the Marvel Universe into something coherent and less bonkers. Maybe Disney’s Imaginears can manage that. But should they? There’s something intangible that is being lost here and I don’t know what it is.
* They also lay claim to Studio Ghibli’s films, at least the US distribution rights, which means they put their little castle logo in fornt of every Miyazaki film, further linking their brand with even independent artists in the minds of less-discerning children everywhere.