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Disney and Marvel: A Love Story

Disney_0901 Unless you just got back from the Negative Zone, you may have noticed that the Walt Disney Corp. purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion yesterday. That sound you here is 10,000 Jeff Albertsons immolating themselves. Let's round up what the intertubes are saying, then do a little dimestore analysis of our own.

"We now live in a world where the lingering echoes of Robert Downey's charm can drive billion-dollar entertainment deals." Tom Spurgeon, world's smartest comics journalist, liveblogged the media conference call with Disney CEO Bob Iger and offered his opinion over at The Comics Reporter. At the very least, check it out for a couple awesome "Mickey Mouse as Spider-Man" pics.

"I hope it changes Marvel Comics in one simple way: Diversification." At EW.com's PopWatch, Marc Bernardin longs for a world in which Disney using Marvel's publishing arm, which represents only a tiny fraction of the company's business, as a research and development department will lead to better comic books and better movies based on comic books.

• "Iger goes to the movies, so he must have realized what was happening. The sweet-natured vibe of older Disney films is losing its appeal." Patrick Goldstein writes on Company Town at LATimes.com about why the deal makes sense for Disney. One-word summary: Boys.

“Think of the fun I'll have since I'm positioned right smack in the middle of them — and maybe some extra cameos, too!" What does Stan Lee think about the company he spent most of his life at becoming a cog in a giant corporate machine? According to Newsarama, he thinks it will be great for his film career. Typical.

“From a stock perspective, though, Pixar has been a wash." Over at Barron's, Bob O'Brien tells us what the rich people think. Oh, rich people and their precious stocks. They just don't understand what this really is about: The possibility of a Howard the Duck/Donald Duck "Ultimate Marvel Team-Up" comic, at long last.

"This has nothing to do with us." And finally, Ellen Gamerman of WSJ.com's Speakeasy asks the question that somebody had to ask: What does this mean for the Spider-Man musical? Answer: nothing.

You have to do a couple laps around the block before you come to a connection between The Big News and working actors. But it is an encouraging sign when you consider that most of Disney's '90s mega-deals — ABC, ESPN, The Family Channel — revolved around the purchase of distribution platforms. During the latter Eisner era, Disney focused on becoming a media conglomerate. It succeeded, but the old-school business of producing content withered and the company suffered for it. What Disney has done under Iger is invest a lot of money — $7 billion on Pixar and now $4 billion on Marvel — in purchasing content engines for its distribution channels. A Disney-owned Marvel means more superhero cartoons, more superhero movies, and maybe even some big-time superhero-cartoon movies. It's a $4 billion investment in producing scripted content by one of the biggest media companies in the world. That doesn't sound like a bad thing.

--Daniel Holloway

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