spidey-mickThere still seems to be a lot of fallout from the announcement on Monday that Disney is to purchase the Marvel Entertainment group to acquire their vast stable of characters, which they wish to license and exploit in all kinds of media. Fans are understandably worried that this will see the Disneyfication of their Marvel favorites, but personally I’m seeing this as a very positive thing for all concerned. For one thing, it gives Marvel the stability that it has needed in recent years, following a lot of heave and ho. The company only really achieved some sort of sure footing after a buyout some years ago, when they promptly announced their big screen plans and, while that seems to have paid off for the most part, it only takes two or three of these planned features to drop dead, and so does the company.

What Bob Iger has done here is very, very smart, not only providing the kind of corporate backing to Marvel that has never been enjoyed by them but has been the powering force behind their competitor, the Warner Bros-owned DC Comics for decades, but also instantly appealing to the male-skewed demographic that the historically family and female orientated Mouse House has traditionally missed out on. Disney has obviously noticed the good sales of all those Marvel animated properties they own already on home video through their acquisition of the Fox Kids network a few years back, and naturally want a bigger slice of that pie. Although the princesses, fairies and tween properties have been massive for the company in recent years, superheroes have been an area that Mickey has never gotten a grasp on. A recent deal with Marvel creator Stan Lee has not yet seen the projected growth for new characters or movies, so Iger’s move – very cleverly hidden from the trade until he was ready to pounce and announce, is the perfectly logical next step, if one looks at this objectively.

Fans needn’t worry about their favorites: as far as the movies are concerned, all respective franchises are sticking where they are, at least for the time being. So expect more Iron Man and Avengers from Paramount, more Fantastic Four and X-Men from Fox, and more Spidey from Sony, who recently announced films 4, 5 and 6 in the in-need-of-a-revamp series. The plan is of course for Disney to eventually bring these films in-house, but as for the moment the licensing deals Marvel has with those companies, and the one for the characters to roam the Universal theme parks for example, all stay in place. The only change is that instead of those profits going to Marvel, they now slip back to Mickey’s pocket, much in the same way that Pixar’s culture has been preserved. It’s a terrific announcement as far as I am concerned, and filled with much potential and possibilities for crossovers in all media. I’m excited, and so it seems are you: the Disney To Buy Marvel thread linked to above is one of the fastest growing in our AN&V Forums for some time — come and share your view too!

pete-post-smlBack to our own new additions, and I’m so pleased that Randall Cyrenne has watched, reviewed and ended up liking Pete’s Dragon: High Flying Edition on DVD. I love, love, love this movie, it being one of my formative Disney experiences, and I’ll defend it to the hilt! It’s not perfect, no, but as Rand says, it’s just got such a warm, all-round pleasing spirit to it that it’s hard to resist. Could Doc Terminus actually be the best Disney villain ever? Not in a mean way, even if he basically wants to chop or hero Elliott up, but in the theatrical style that we often associate with oily creeps? Jim Dale is perfect in the part, which is so different to lots of other things he’s done, and young Sean Marshall is natural too (primed to be a Disney star, he also worked with Don Bluth as the voice of the boy in The Small One featurette, though eventually shunned stardom).

I’m probably more familiar with the 90-something minute cut down that I grew up with, but on DVD it’s great to see the original intention, even if some of the dances do feel a little too extended, though holding practically the one shot on Helen Reddy for the film’s signature Candle On The Water moment is a brave directorial choice, playing up the strength of her voice and the Oscar-nominated song itself, and refreshing in this overly quick cut age. The extras on the new disc are big fun too, especially the hilariously dated promo record samples: Brazzle Dazzle Day‘s “Baby I love you-ooh” additions absolutely cracked me up. An excellent featurette on the film’s visual effects tops a wonderful upgrade for newcomers and fans alike…enjoy!

Before I sign off, our sincerest thanks go to animator Jason Peltz of Peltz Productions for providing today’s main Spider-Mickey image, top right. You might say it’s Marvelous! — Ben.