Disney owns Marvel. Marvel owns Thor. Thor is now a woman, who is the daughter of king Odin. Thor is now a Disney Princess. You can thank Patricia Hernandez at Kotaku for bringing this to the attention of the internet. Thor is about to be joined by Jean Gray, Kitty Pryde, She-Hulk, Sue Storm, Rogue, X-23, Mystique and many others. No news yet if General Leia will be downgraded to princess again, or what will happen to Rey, Maz Kanata, Captain Phasma, or Katie, the Star Wars Girl. What the hell am I talking about? You may well ask. It’s simple. Over the last decade Disney has been on a mission to consolidate all the Marvel universes under one umbrella. Many people are unaware that the Star Wars comic book series has been released by Marvel for, like, ever.
So what does this mean to you? Initially not a lot. There are multiple movies already contracted, and paid, for that are still in the pipeline. Disney is not going to stop production on Infinity War, for example, to add in The Fantastic Four.
What does it mean to you long term?
Potentially quite a bit if you’re a fan of superhero movies.
I’ll ignore, for now, Todd VanDerWerff’s excellent article for VOX which, carefully and factually, details how this deal could kill Fox Television (which no longer has original content), give Disney 100% ownership of Hulu, and wipe out all mature content, and, instead, focus on the folks with capes, etc.
There’s more than enough there to keep me busy.
One thing mentioned in the VOX article does have immediate relevance, the death knell for all mature content. Disney has a corporate rule that all films must be PG-13 or lighter. Logan, Deadpool, and the upcoming Venom and Silver & Black, are all R rated and really don’t fit the House of Mouse motif.
Now, to be fair, when asked about this conundrum, Disney CEO, Bob Eiger, managed to remain completely neutral on the subject.
It (Deadpool) clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool, as long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.
The nice people over at Movie Web took a look at the real world and came away unsure.
Walt Disney Pictures has previously distributed several R-rated films through their Touchstone Pictures banner, which they have been slowly phasing out lately. However, none of the movies released were productions of Disney. The last time the studio actually produced an R-rated film was 2006’s Apocalypto. So, it remains to be seen what the deal will mean for Deadpool and other R-rated Marvel movies. It has been said that the merger, if approved by regulators, won’t go into effect for another 12 to 18 months, which leaves Deadpool 2 alone, but could have an effect on the X-Force movie.
Disney is not acquiring Fox because it wants to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe or make for fan service movies, it’s doing so to compete in the direct-to-consumer marketplace, increase its library of content, while edging out Netflix and Amazon. The X-Men joining the MCU is a distant second to all of that, and not exactly essential for the company. If Disney decides to expand the MCU, they will more than likely make an offshoot to bring in the new movies to keep the MCU in the more kid-friendly area that it is in now. Again, this is more than a year away from happening, so there’s a lot to go over.
Though Bob Eiger was pretty non-committal about an R-rated division of the MCU, he probably hasn’t spent much time even thinking about it since this deal isn’t about the MCU or Deadpool or Die Hard or The Simpsons, it’s about expanding the brand and acquiring exclusive titles that won’t be available anywhere else. Hopefully Eiger’s words ring true for the future and Disney thinks of putting out R-rated material again, like it did with Touchstone. But for those waiting for Deadpool to fight alongside the Avengers, don’t hold your breath.
Okay, to be fair to Disney, their idea of an R-rated film is different from anyone else’s. While Touchstone is a wholly owned subsidiary, and not even a stand alone company in any regard, the R-rated fare it released tended to be brought in and then approved by Jeffrey Bruckheimer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and a lot of great movies got made that way, but Bruckheimer left in 2014 and there is no one to take his place.
Touchstone has done nothing of any significance since then and Disney seems content to let it die.
But what happens, then, with all the stuff that Fox had greelighted?
Well, in the short term, not much. The deal won’t take place until the end of 2018 at the earliest. So Deadpool, Venom, and the rest should be completed or well into production.
Now, will Disney distribute them? Probably not. For now they could dump them to Touchstone and keep their mousy hands clean. But how long can that arrangement last?
According to folks I spoke with, about three to five years, tops. That doesn’t even cover the current list of films in production.
So that’snot a tenable solution.
Another option is to remove the Disney brand from those films and release them under the creator brands, i.e, Marvel. Under this theory Disney still makes all the money but doesn’t have their brand directly associated with the edgy stuff.
That kind of sort of works, but Disney uses characters at its theme parks and, like it or not, Deadpool is popular with kids. Can you just see Deadpool helping kids line up for a ride on Magic Mountain?
No? That’s okay. No one can now.
But, you see, R-rated stuff can be tamed down to PG-13 or even G, just see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an example. What started as a murder porn homage to Daredevil quickly became the “must have” toys for kids all over the world.
Disney could do that with all the titles and just make bank. Of course it would kill the souls of all of them.
Let’s be honest, Disney is completely built off of family experiences. Families do not, normally, take the kids out for an evening of murder porn or sex. Nor is there any way to logically add those elements into their theme parks. Disney makes its money off of licensing its brand to toys, clothing, and family experiences. They aren’t giving any of that up any time soon.
If they spin the properties off into a new subsidiary, those characters would be just as limited in their interactions with the main Marvel characters as they are now.
As the nice people at Movie Web noted above, don’t expect to see Deadpool in an Avengers film any time soon. And plan on watching any, or all, of whatever does get made on Hulu.
So that’s kind of fun. One channel for the kids to watch The House of Mouse and for their parents to watch The Punisher. I’m being snarky. As of now The Punisher, and all the other Marvel titles on Netflix are slated to stay right where they are.
But I’m sure this will all work out well.
By “well” I mean that, in five years, the universe will be gifted with Elektra costumes for toddlers.
Or she, along with the rest of the more adult characters, will slowly be shelved and forgotten.
And, with their departure, the world will be a less interesting place.