Posted Friday, May 6, 2011 at 9:25p Pacific Time
The second Marvel Studios film to be released since the Disney acquisition is now showing at a theater near you. Thor, a part of Marvel's "Avengers Assemble" lays the ground work for Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to unite next year when Avengers is released. While the film is being distributed by Paramount due to a pre-existing arrangement, they only take a small distribution fee. Most of the risk and benefit will be seen on Disney's balance sheet.
All of the Marvel Studios films have taken part in the "Marvel Cinematic Universe". The films exist in the same fictional continuity and reference each other. Clark Gregg plays Agent Caulson in Thor, which is a role that he also played in Iron Man and Iron Man 2. There are also references to the Hulk and Iron Man in Thor which act as connective tissue. Jeremy Renner plays Hawkeye in a cameo appearance in advance of his expanded role in the Avengers. The tricky part is allowing the films to interact while making sure they stand on their one. The film can't just be a series of easter eggs to appease fan boys. It has to be a good film on its own. How the films intersect is fun and unique, but it can't save a bad film.
According to RottenTomatoes.com, the film has a score of 80% making it "certified fresh". The site says the consensus describes Thor as: "A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment."
If you read the latest issue of Disney Twenty-Three, you will understand why Bob Iger bought Marvel. It is a franchise machine and Bob loves his franchises. The thought is that these superheroes will come together in Avengers, which will be its own franchise, while continuing their solo franchises with films like Thor 2 and Captain America 2. In addition, Avengers will bring the spotlight to other characters that can launch their own franchises as well.
But it is important to remember that franchises can only continue if the creative content supporting them is strong. So far, Marvel is the Pixar of superhero movies. Everyone of their four films has been "fresh" with 3 of them being certified.
So Marvel is printing money by making connected and above-grade superhero films. Looking back, it begs the question, why didn't Disney by them sooner?
Parks and Resorts: Tom Fitzgerald on the Disney Parks Blog revealed that Blackbeard will be replacing Davy Jones in the grotto scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Ian McShane reprised his role to allow for some neat synergy between the new film and the attraction. I think this is a great example of good synergy. They are temporarily changing things up in a way that still keeps the spirit of the attraction. Davy Jones will return later this year.
Media Networks: The Disney Channel Original Movie, Lemonade Mouth, was the number one original movie on cable in 2011 with 5.7 million viewers. Its soundtrack went to number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and number 1 on the soundtrack chart. The question is whether this film with become a franchise a la High School Musical and the Cheetah Girls. Will the Lemonade Mouth band do a concert tour? If the film keeps its steam, then the answer is probably yes. To keep interest, there will be a live chat with the cast of the film on DisneyChannel.com at 7ET/4PT on May 7.
Interactive Media: Tap Tap Revenge 4 launched in the Android Marketplace on March 30 and has already been downloaded over 1.4 million times. This marked the first time Disney Mobile's Tapulous launched a game in the Android Marketplace since they now allow in-app purchases which Tapulous's business model is based off of. They say the Android Marketplace might overtake Apple's iTunes sooner rather than later. This could get interesting.
Consumer Products: DisneyStore.com is offering free shipping on your entire order if you purchase a Marvel item as a way to celebrate the release of Thor. Might I suggest the Lighting Power Thor Action Figure or the Thor Lighting Hammer; both of which are a part of my "collection" and which I enjoy very much.
For what it's worth, Craig, I agree with you. I quit buying new comics some years ago and now only re-read my collection.
Basil of Baker Street
Posted By craigdvc Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:52p Pacific Time
It used to be that EVERY comic was geared toward younger viewers not just 4-5. Yes there were multiple Spider-Men comics but at least they were all the SAME Spider-man. The stories were written in layers that all ages could understand. Questions like, "What does the Thing's penis look like?" or "What would it be like if Ant-Man and Wasp had sex?" wouldn't be answered in the comics but left for the immature, slobbering dreck that were to old for comics. Today it seems that those who used to ask those questions are the ones running the company.
Online comics are great if you're a 20-something with nothing else to do but sit in front of a computer or iPad. It does not bring in new readers. That is what is killing the industry. Not bringing in new readers. You can't throw a download in your backpack or trade with your friends. Comics need to be everywhere.
Posted By matthewdort Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:15p Pacific Time
Marvel already has plenty of titles geared for younger readers, and I for one enjoy the mature storylines of some of the current titles.
As far as distribution is concerned, they should get aggressive and release comics by online subscription as soon as the print versions are published. Print will always have a niche appeal, but digital holds tremendous growth.
Posted By craigdvc Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 1:47p Pacific Time
In order for Disney to see a long-term profit from Marvel they need to make the comics for all ages again. I don't mean a rating system. I mean that they need to hold their writers and editors to the same standard as they did in the 60's, 70's and mid-80's. Stories today are geared toward readers in their 20's & 30's. Disney needs to make their comics available to all readers through spinner racks at groceries and not the few dark comic shops that are still open. New readers are not being brought into the fold.