Sunday, August 21, 2011

D23 - Disney Chomps Off Marvel's Balls And Marvel Likes It

Today at D23, in a Herculean display of awfulness, Disney forced Joe Quesada to explain to a half full audience what Marvel was and what it has in common with Disney. He explained to us how in lieu of talking about actual Marvel properties or making any sort of announcement, Disney specifically requested that he give the audience a history lesson. So, the one Arena panel I thought *wouldn't* be one big Disney dick sucking session turned out to be just that, yet again. Even down to the Mickey Mouse shirt and professment of love for old school Disney from Quesada himself. To his credit, he put together a great lesson and really did his best to seem like he was enjoying getting raped through the ear, but I skipped out on free Breakfast to spend an hour learning what I already knew, on this occasion infused with Disney Ego, so I was not a happy camper.

Thankfully, the Q&A portion of a normal Cup O'Joe was retained, though this also demonstrated that they *could* have done a Q&A during the Walt Disney Studios panel and simply did not. But the Q&A, bizarrely consisting of way too many Boom Studios questions from Disney fans (how many times can the man say Marvel isn't working with Boom?!), still didn't feel like the right experience, as most of the questions Joe could not answer. On top of that, the session was extremely short and when a fan asked if they could show the Avengers footage from the day before and Joe said yes, he was quickly shut down, much to the disappointment of the actual Marvel fans who stayed in the room after the massive exodus took place at the beginning of the Q&A.

While it was interesting enough to learn about Marvel's history straight from Queseda himself, it was inherently so skewed towards convincing the audience how well Marvel meshed with Disney, that I felt like I was somehow being lied to or deceived. Something felt very wrong about being hit over the head with what Marvel and Disney had in common (If you're wondering - "Storytelling, Community, Accessibility, Appeals to all ages"), when one of these companies I love so much and the other, I have such a massive like/hate relationship with. A relationship that wasn't helped by ANYTHING at D23, I'll tell you that much.

And you know what I kept thinking of during this Disney & Marvel making a baby love-fest? Jack Kirby. The family and estate of whom Disney fucked out of their rights earlier this summer. Work for hire blah blah blah 1909 bullshit laws, I don't give a shit, someone should have had some compassion, and that someone is never Disney. Awfully devilish in the courtroom for all their hemming and hawwing about being about love and family, aren't they? Yeah, your family values really show when you screw Jack Kirby's family out of anything that should rightfully belong to them. I won't argue about the invalidity of an archane act, developed before artists even understood the meaning of what not owning the rights to your own work meant, but I will say that I was not the only one with Kirby on the mind. A giant section of fans screamed wildly when his name was announced as one of the first to create for Marvel.

Ultimately, the panel was an utter disappointment for Marvel fans with no news, no information, no sneak peaks, no special guests, no title specifics, no giveaways, nothing. And while the majority of the people in attendance had never been to a Cup O' Joe panel (Quesada had audience members raise their hands), the room was still only half full to start. So okay, several hundred Disney fans learned about the history of Marvel today. Great. Doesn't change the fact that any Marvel fan who bought a ticket and came to Anaheim for this convention would have been sorely disappointed by the entire experience and certainly doesn't change the fact that Disney fans are in no way the right target audience for Marvel. You know who is? Other genre fans. Like the ones who don't necessarily read Marvel yet, but go to Comic-Con to find out if they should.

But enough of my bitching. If you'd like to know what information was relayed at the panel, I've provided my live account after the jump, beginning with the history lesson, skipping past all the "Disney and Marvel were made for each other "expository bullshit. Maybe you will find some value in it and my missing free Breakfast won't entirely be in vain.


There are over 7,000 characters and two years into the Disney partnership, there are 8,000 partners.

Then we go into the history of Marvel. In 1938, Superman came into being, in 1939, Batman came into being. In 1939, Timely Publications published the first ever Marvel Comics. In 1941, Captain America, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby has his first comic. A large portion of the audience claps for Jack Kirby. Yeah. That's right. Eff you, Disney. 19 year old Stan Lee wrote his first piece of comics in Captain America #3. When superheroes weren't selling, Timely started publishing comics of all different kinds.

In the late 50s/early 60s, superheros came back into style. Legend has it that Martin Goodman was playing golf with some publishers who were bragging about their superhero comics and their Justice League. Martin went back to the offices and said Stan, I want you to make a superhero team. Stan thought about it, came back to Martin and said, a superhero team with major problems, like real people. Martin said, no, you're crazy! They solve problems, don't have them! Stan Lee said he wants them to be everyday shlubs, not matinee heroes. Martin said no, that's not what superheros are. Stan Lee went home and said he couldn't do this anymore. His wife said, hey, why don't you quit and make your own comics? He did and in 1961, he created the Fantastic Four. This is when the modern Marvel universe started. One year later in 1962, Stan created Spiderman.

In the years following, Stan and other creators "shifted the paradigm" and started the "Marvel Age" of comics. Characters that were more honest than the ones that came before. Then, some mild DC bashing begins. Superman and Batman put on this facade of secret identities in order to live among us. Clark Kent is bumbling, Bruce Wayne is a playboy, nothing like their actual persons. Marvel is different. "Every best Spiderman story is a great Peter Parker story"

In the 70s, Marvel began to enter the zeitgeist. A pop culture phenomenon. In 1971, The Hulk was on the cover of Rolling Stone and they wrote a story on Marvel and its popularity in colleges. In the 80s, there were tons of TV shows based on Marvel properties.

In the 90s, there was an "unprecedented growth" for Marvel. But Marvel started to focus away from story and attracted speculators instead of readers, more on artwork than story, more about collectables. The bottom then fell out of the comics market, Marvel went into Chapter 11. Why? They forgot what was in their DNA, lost track of that.

This is a story very similar to Disney, when they had to rediscover what made them great in the first place.

So in the year 2000, a new management team came in and began "Project Rebirth" and rebirthed the house of ideas. Had to start at the foundation.

Content: Storytellers. Went out and found the best writers possible. Focused on stories and an interconnected universe and story lines. Their characters all live in the same world.
"Content is King!" became the motto

Connection: Fanbase creates a universe within a universe, tell them what they want to see, and they try to provide those things, along with a great story. "True Believer Experience" begins when fans can connect with them. Cup O Joe is a weekly column where Joe answers fan questions. Runs a clip of Marvel's "open video letter" to 30 Rock, after 30 Rock destroyed an issue of Marvel Academy #8. Pretty cute video. Also mentions as a great place to connect. Also played clip of Isaiah Mustafah as Luke Cage.

Characters: Remembering that they are real people with real lives, living in the real world (cue: Iron Man issue featuring Tim Gunn). Use the real world as the canvas - if the Fantastic Four needs to go to the White House right now, the president would be Obama. Diversity is a big part of Marvel, characters in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Black Panther was the first African character in comics, created in 1966. Joe remembers reading this story and thinking, these are books about my world, my life, people in this book are reflecting the people around me, in my neighborhood, in my city. Was attracted to the real world aspect.

They put all the pieces together and became the #1 comic book publisher in the world. Over 60 titles a month & 45 trade paperbacks a month. Published in 75 countries and in 22 languages. #1 digital comics publisher in the world. Marvel App has 3,000 downloadable titles. Streamling library, subscription based, has over 10,000 comics.

Marvel Studios. Was none in 2000. Started licensing out the characters to other studios, but weren't produced by Marvel. The tides turned with Blade. New Line saw something in the character, made it into a great movie, and other studios started taking note and wanting to make movies with the characters and Marvel took note too, they wanted to produce their own titles.

Showed clip that played at the end of the first Iron Man.

Proud of that interconnectivity that helped define Marvel in the 60s tgar *should* be an aspect of the films to be truly Marvel. Proceeded to show all of the clips from all of the Marvel studios films displaying this incerconnectivity.

Joe mentions his daughter was too afraid to meet Tom Hiddleston.

Fun Fact Alert: When the first draft of the Captain America script came in, Joe mentioned that the broadcast was of a Yankees game, but Rogers is from Brooklyn, so it should be the Dodgers. So they changed it!

Marvel Television started happening a few years before the Disney purchase. Used to have many animated shows, but they werent necessarily made by Marvel. But then Marvel made Superhero Squad and The Avengers and next up is Ultimate Spiderman, produced solely (for the most part) by Marvel creatives. Showed sneak peak at the show, which looks fun.

Showed trailer for animated show available on iTunes, taken from pages of Thor Loki. Kind of like a motion comic, but animated a bit more fully through CGI. A little edgier than other Marvel animated content.

So everything is going great, when Disney knocks on the door, inquiring about purchase. Joe shows some fun Marvel/Disney mash up artwork.

But what this partnership really looks like is that Disney promised they could operate autonomously, provide the content that they provide - "Just be Marvel" and let Disney make you "as big as we can."

The audience leaves as I try to listen to the Q&A and it annoys me

Do they have any Marvel stage productions in the works?
Nothing right now, but you never know, especially with Disney now

Why is there no booth here?
First D23, decisions not made by creative, so he doesn't know, but hopes next time there is one

When you reboot the comics, do you find it difficult to bring in new crowd while still paying homage to older generations?
They try not to do hard reboots - they still have their history from back in the 60s. What they did do is create a serpate universe, th eUltimate Universe, what if they were creating the universe in 2001, how would universe be created?

Future for Marvel in the Disney parks?
They are having some talks

Can we hope that Spiderman, X-Men and FF will be incorporated some day into cinematic universe?
Would be fantastic, but no plans right now.

Any plans to redo Howard the Duck and will it be revealed he is related to Donald?
Coming upon the 25th anniversary of the movie, so there might be something there

Has there been any interaction or conflict with existing Disney comics?
No conflict. Haven't worked with Boom studios at all.

Who are your favorite villains?
Galactus, cause he just kinda stands there and everyone is scared of him. Such a heady 70s idea that he eats planets.

In the 90s, they got a huge slew of characters from the Alterverse, are we seeing them soon?
No, but he can't tell them why, it's a legal question

(Someone named Bob asks if we can see yesterday's Avenger's footage. He is wearing an X-Men First Class Xavier shirt from Comic-Con)
Joe says yes and asks tech if we can.

If Boom isn't publishing old titles anymore, would Marvel take anything over like Uncle Scrooge?
Hasn't heard anything about anything Boom Studios at all

How about Darkwing Duck?
Not working with Boom

What is happening with Marvel rides at Universal?
They will remain there

Is Marvel going to be touching on the end of the world in Dec 2012?
The world ends in Marvel every week!

How do they choose who is going to die? And how do they handle the blowback?
Very simple- all comes out of story. If there is a great story there that involves the death of a character and a plan afterwards, then they'll do it. Doesnt what they do at Marvel, there is always someone who writes and hates it, but that's okay, at the end of the day, any mail is better than no mail, because passion is what they want from their fans.

Is a Deadpool movie in the works?
That belongs to Fox, so they have no control over it. Hears there is stuff in the works.
"Ryan Reynolds will make a great Deadpool, much better than he was a Green Lantern."

Any more shows like the old Black Panther show coming out?
Maybe Marvel Knights is closest. Working a lot at Marvel TV to create shows for XD. More coming.

And that was that. A clip reel of cosplay ran, every photo being from Comic-Con, natch. And I started counting down the hours until I could get the hell out of D23.


Michael Tirona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Tirona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Tirona said...

I have no idea what panel you were at, but it seemed like the farthest thing from Marvel getting their balls chopped off, though, and I'm a much bigger Marvel fan than I am a Disney fan. Oh, and a noticeable majority of the venue was filled, it wasn't half filled. I know you'd like to make it seem like the event was as sucky as you wanted it to be to everyone on the internet, but the lower level (which already constitutes for 75% of the seats available) was filled and a small portion of the top level was filled, too. If you had bothered to take 3 whole seconds to look at the guide book, you would have seen that the Marvel presentation was going to be about their history. If you didn't like the show so much, you could have just left after the presentation. I know you'd just like to stick around more so you have more stuff to bitch about on the internet and feel like the victim, but no one forced you to stay after you had see what you came to see. Entitled fan is entitled.

Da7e said...

Is there any website/company/person who DIDN'T have "Content Is King" as their motto in the early 00s?

LoquaciousMuse said...

@Michael anyone who knows me knows that I give things the benefit of the doubt and am usually extremely positive, but this convention really took it out of me. A guide book may say it's about the history anywhere, but to only be about that and to only be about how it relates to Disney and why it and Disney are so made for each other made my skin crawl. The bottom section was almost full and the top had a smattering of a few people. When the q and a started everyone left but a few hundred people. I took photos. And why would I leave before then? Aside from the fact that I was there to cover it, the q and a was the part I was most looking forward to. As a marvel fan, none of what happened in that room bothered you?? Really?? How come?