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Disney buying Marvel! World as we know it ends! (Updated)

Okay, only the first part is true, but it’s pretty weird as it is — the House of Ideas and the Mouse House are likely to become one. It’s still quite early here on the West coast¬† and all we have right now are mostly still the raw public facts as reported in the press release which is being carried this morning by Comic Book Resources (CBR), Variety and Nikki Finke.

Unless I’m missing something, the deal involves a massive buy-out of Marvel stockholders to the tune of $4 billion and it still may have to clear some antitrust hurdles. This is obviously my bias talking, but I hope the Obama administration’s regulators take a good look at this deal before allowing it to go through. In my opinion, Disney is already far, far larger than any single media company should be allowed to be. On the other hand, the deal with Marvel is obviously not on the scale of Disney’s past deal with ABC in terms of its size and scope and they aren’t a direct competitor.

Marvel’s real strength is the wealth of characters mostly created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. If it makes Marvel a healthier enterprise, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing. Finke is entirely bullish on the deal and praises Disney head Robert Iger for it, but I’m not sure we share the same exact priorities. We do both wonder if the association with Disney will somehow lower Marvel’s cool-factor among the young geeks. As for antitrust, I’m waiting to hear what the people who actually understand this stuff have to say, but I guess if we allowed the ABC deal to go through, this is nothing.

The word at this point is that Disney will allow it’s currrent licensing and third party deals — including fimmaking ones with the big studios it’s been working with up to now — to stand pat for the time being. It sounds to me, however, like the Mouse House might well be stepping in there at some point and a more recent item from Marketwatch definitely allows for that possibility. It also says that some lesser known Marvel characters might also be hitting silver screen. So, I guess Ant Man and Millie the Model might finally see their name in lights.

All I know for sure is that it’s feels almost like a sign of the geek apocalypse (the “geekalypse”?) to have Spiderman, the X-Men, Iron Man, and the Mighty Thor under the same roof as Mickey, Donald and Winnie the Pooh.¬† On the other hand, the distance between the Mickey Mouse Club and the Merry Marvel Marching Society might not be all that great in some ways.

UPDATE: Thanks to BKS for sending this NY Times article with more info. A couple of quick lifts: Marvel characters will start popping up at some Disney-owned theme parks fairly soon and Paramount may have the most to lose as Disney gradually brings the Marvel film franchises in-house.

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