Monday, 19 March 2012

Disney and Marvel...a match made in Stark Industries?

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., that the company has done preliminary design work that will one day lead to Marvel superheroes appearing in the theme parks along with Disney's other familiar characters.

Already I can see this splitting the Disney Community right down the middle, and I’m probably more on the ‘against’ side of the fence with this one! I can’t see Mickey Mouse getting all pally with The Hulk for a Tower of Terror photo-op, can you?

"We haven't announced anything yet," Iger said. "But we're working on some concepts."

Concepts? To me that translates to ‘lands’ and ‘areas’ within the parks dedicated to the theme, think Avatar Land coming to Animal Kingdom, or the somewhat shelved ‘Pixar Land’ in Hollywood Studios. Does Disney need Marvel? Personally, I think this is more about putting a spanner in Universals works than offering something to us, the guests. With Disney getting the rights to using Marvel characters, Universal will not be able to update their own Superhero land over at Islands of Adventure. They might be plowing ahead with Harry Potter expansions (I will admit I am excited about this!) but that then leaves an area of the park almost un-upgradeable. Tumbleweeds come to mind. They still hold some 10 year contracts for their parks in Japan, and the rights to the newest Spiderman upgrade.

Why Disney? Why Marvel? I can only see these characters being placed in Hollywood Studios, which OK, is craving more than a spit shine at the minute, but they have so many ‘homegrown’ characters that could, and should, be introduced into this area, bringing with them a whole host of merchandise, ride possibilities and more. They plan to use Disney and Marvel characters hand in hand, but that sounds more like some disturbingly twisted fan fiction, than a recipe for success.

Take Pixar for example, with the impending success of Cars Land over in California, I’d have thought by now Disney would realize how much we love Pixar and how much more of it we’d like to see in the parks. Whatever happened to the Monsters Inc ride that has been talked about since pre Toy Story Mania? The new Muppets film has been such a success, they could completely overhaul the Muppets area of Hollywood Studios, possible finally incorporating some of what Jim Henson originally planned for, and then some! When will Carls’ house (UP!) land somewhere in the vicinity? Camp Rock? High School Musical (OK, that got its chance and had a good run but I would happily have it back!). How about upgrading the Great Movie Ride (finally!) to include scenes from all those awesome films in the final video? Some new displays in the lobby would not go amiss either! So many areas of the park need a little love and attention, but I don’t think this is the way to go.

I honestly think Hollywood Studios gives Disney prime chance and opportunity to showcase its films, past, present and future, allowing lesser represented characters a chance to step out of the parade and interact with guests. The idea of old Hollywood does not call for Thor or Iron Man to make an appearance (Though I would possible grudgingly accept Iron Man over in Epcot *grumble*). I understand that Hollywood Studios is about just that, about Hollywood, movies, stars, the journeys they take us on, and although I’ve quite enjoyed many Marvel films, I can’t see them needing representation in Disney parks. Disney will do what Disney do best, they will wave their wand and create something amazing, no questions about it, but being amazing doesn’t always mean it will be what’s actually needed.

It’s a long way off, they bought the rights in around 2009 but this is the first real mention of anything happening behind the scenes. Avatar Land is the focus now, with the first attraction set for 2015. I am still not completely sold on this idea either, I would rather they go back to their original Beastly Kingdom concept.

There’s not much about Disney that annoys me, but the Marvel and Avatar business? That is frustrating. Most of what they are doing, they planned on doing a long time ago, but with their own characters etc, in their own way. They are Disney, they do not need to go around buying up other entertainments to make it work, they do well enough on their own. Always have and always will.

How do you feel about this venture?

Until next time,

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