secret wars?

06 Dec

The news of the potential of Disney buying up a big chunk of Fox’s assets and intellectual property hit a fever pitch this week, with talk of a deal being announced as early as next week, leading to exciting possibilities like orphaned Marvel properties such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four “coming home” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I’m kind of conflicted, actually. While I would *love* to have Marvel’s First Family exist within the MCU (preferably as a weird-science Kirby-tastic 60s period piece – hear me, Feige?), and the option of getting Star Wars: A New Hope‘s home video rights back with the other films (which could finally lead to maybe getting us some decent original theatrical edition versions released someday), there’s a lot of potential not-so-good things that could come of it, both in terms of the characters we love, but also the entertainment industry as a whole.

First of all, if Disney buys up Fox’s entertainment side, they’ll own upwards of thirty percent of all movies released in the last year (that’s a stat I heard this week; I can’t find it right now); that’s not exactly good for competition. While it’s not a perfect synchronization (given various production companies not aligning completely with studios etc), that’s one giant megacorp controlling damned near everything, which in my mind, is going to, at the very least, stifle creativity. Disney, being as huge as it is, is pretty risk averse – I don’t see to many risks being taken – Marvel movies are great, and wonderfully enjoyable, but I wouldn’t exactly call them particularly daring.

Also, Hulu could be a problem; That particular streaming service is currently split amongst almost all the major studios – Disney and Fox each hold somewhere around a twenty-five percent stake. Disney buys Fox, all of a sudden, the mouse is a majority stakeholder. This might not be all bad -Disney’s been talking about setting up their own streaming service for a while; should this go through, they might just use the existing Hulu infrastructure instead. However, if Disney’s got a majority, all the other guys who get their stuff out over Hulu’s service will fall by the wayside.

One of these days, the studios are going to figure out that everybody having thier own services sucks – Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have pretty much figured the infrastructure out; sure, holding back studio properties leads to cool stuff like Stranger Things, but I can’t think of anybody who wants to subscribe to fifteen different streaming channels to get all the cool stuff – that’s just cable TV all over again, and since these entertainment businesses are all also kind of in the broadband business, and Net Neutrality in serious danger of going away, we, the customer, are screwed.

Also, finally, I don’t really even want the X-Men hanging out with Cap, Thor and Iron Man on the movie screen. The fact that the MCU started out without the heavy sales hitters like Spider-Man and the Mutants actually encouraged more creativity and aiming for the “deep cuts”, many of which are my favorites. If those guys were there from the beginning, we’d never have gotten Ant-Man or Doctor Strange. Historically in the comics, the X-Men have mostly stayes to their own end of things (other than recent, overdone event series of the last decade or so) historically, and it works – additionally, the X-Men movies seem to work pretty well on their own anyway – they aren’t all amazing, or particularly married to continuity, though they work in their own sense of context, and have given us some pretty great individual properties like Deadpool and Logan, which wouldn’t have really worked otherwise. I say leave ’em out – they’re fine on their own, and the comics guys since the 60s understood that (in spite of Wolverine being on everything now). Sure, Marvel didn’t do amazing things with Inhumans as a replacement they’ve been playing at for the last few years, but Marvel doesn’t really *need* an X-Men replacement in their universe – the Avengers, Defenders, and cosmic folks hanging with the Guardians are fine.

I bet this deal happens. That said, I hope it doesn’t seriously upset the delicate balance of the entertainment industry, or the ten years’ worth of cool storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even if they already have the whole Infinity Stone thing queued up to change up the universe anyway and just wedge stuff in – I just hope they don’t.

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