Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is May Parker the next Hannah Montana?

From Disney's perspective, the storylines that set so many fanboy hearts and message boards aflutter don't particularly matter. It's the properties (read: characters) they contain, and what Disney can do with those properties, that count.

Because Disney's real business is the business of Doing Things With Properties. This deal is about what will get made from the raw material those characters represent, through licensing: toys, TV, movies, games, sleepwear and thrill rides.
- Glen Weldon, NPR


Even if the coverage of the Marvel/Disney deal focuses on how Marvel can help Disney market itself better to young men - and, man, is it creepy to read professionals talk about Disney's "Boy Problem" - I can't help but think of that as too narrow a strategy. Because Marvel has too many characters who could also hook Disney's existing female viewership.

Let's not forget, the Distinguished Competition has dominated the TV/DVD animated boys' market for years, arguably from the moment any of us watched the opening of Batman: The Animated Series. From there we got the Justice League series, more straight-to-video Bat-flicks, and recent stories featuring Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, and the adaptation of Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier. That's a sizable head start, even if Marvel's recent animated fare hasn't been bad.

But, should Marvel and Disney decide to give girls a wider range of heroine than usual, that could shift the balance of power on the DVD racks. Consider Spider-Girl up there: a character with an existing fanbase - one that had saved her book from cancellation several times, and perhaps best of all, a character with a more malleable continuity to work with, since she's an "alternate-future" character. One good animated film or TV series and voila! Mayday backpacks fit in perfectly alongside their plain ol' "Princesses."

As if by coincidence - or was it? OMG CONSPIRACY! - Marvel offered up another prime candidate for multimedia exposure in the X-Men's Pixie, who's slated to get her own mini-series later this year. The X-Franchise, in fact, could yield a treasure-trove of "new" stars: Kitty Pryde, Storm, Illyana Rasputin, and even Wolfsbane come to mind right off the bat. Outside of Xavier's School, you've got Araña; Ms. Marvel, the Runaways and She-Hulk potentially waiting in the wings.

So while we've been assured that "sparks will fly" after the initial meetings between Marvel and Pixar, as a fan, I'm hoping we get more than the umpteenth animated Wolverine or Iron Man - hell, Logan and Tony are already going to be in anime, so we're good. As a fan, and a consumer, I want to see innovation, I want to see diversity, I want to see Pixar finally listen to Linda Holmes. I want this deal to result in more work for male and female voice-actors and animators. I want this deal to kick DC in the ass enough to give me a Blue Beetle animated film. I want this to really, truly change the game beyond the boardroom. And, hell, even if I'm an old fanboy, I want my friends who have daughters and sons to see that the little girls don't have to look up only to the girl with the glass shoe, or the blonde wig - the one with the web-shooters can make just as good of a heroine.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I love Kitty Pryde and Lockheed! They totally need to get her out there

and maybe kinda get her out of the jail-bait age group... does she have to be 14??