If you’re even remotely a fan of comic books or superhero movies, chances are you’ve seen the rumours that Disney could reportedly buy DC very soon.
DC’s parent company AT&T is supposedly looking to sell its entertainment branch. This would mean that Warner Bros., which owns the rights to do DC, would be owned by Disney.
It sounds like a bit of a weird scenario. The two entertainment giants have been going head-to-head for years. Disney certainly seems to perform better both in cinemas and on TV screen, but DC has had its stand out moments.
Honestly though, the Disney and DC merger isn’t great. On paper it opens the DC and Marvel universe up to lots of possibilities. However, it comes with a cost.
Even though both universes look very similar, DC and Marvel have a number of key differences between them. Marvel has always focused on superheroes that are a little more grounded. Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man are all humans imbued with special powers and abilities.
DC superheroes are often far more fantasy focused, with gods and aliens forming the bulk of its super heroes. The stories in DC take on a much less believable direction, but that’s what makes it unique. While Marvel bases its stories in real world places, much of DC’s universe is based on fictional locations.
One of the biggest differences between the two properties is tone. In the movies, Marvel typically is a little lighter, and more approachable. However, DC movies are gritty, dark and take on a maturer tone.
If Disney decides to buy DC and start mixing the two universes, we could lose what makes each one special. While, yes, it would be great if the likes of Superman and Iron Man were to go head-to-head, to do so would come at the cost of franchise individuality.
American YouTuber, Hank Green once said: “When money, rather than innovation or value, is your competitive advantage, that's when things get boring and stagnant, and monopolies take root.” And it’s true. Once a company like Disney owns everything, what motivation is there to exceed and innovate?
Granted, there are of course many independent and small comic creators across the world. And there are other superhero properties on the likes of Netflix and other streaming platforms. But none have the reach that DC’s and Marvel’s combined viewership has. Owning both properties would essentially give Disney a de facto Monopoly over superhero films and properties.
This is bad for many reasons, but the primary one would be that Disney could probably do whatever it wants at that point. With no major competition to hold it accountable, the company could easily drop the quality of the products, because there will not be any alternatives of the same scale and complexity.
Monopolies are bad, and we should not want Disney to buy everything.
Comics were born out of creative inspiration. Each new superhero would go on to inspire countless others in its place and each new generation was built on the one that came before it. Disney owning most of the comic and superhero industry would stifle creativity. Everything it creates will have to conform to its internal vision of what a product should be. Which has typically always been a safe product, that is digestible by people of all ages.
This goes against what comic books have always stood for. The likes of Watchmen and The Punisher couldn't have existed today, as a company like Disney would have likely shot such ideas down. Disney’s de facto monopoly leads to a future in which it decides how to shift and shape the comic and superhero landscape, and that is bad.
Fortunately, the buyout seems to be a rumour at this point. Hopefully, it stays that way, as Marvel and DC are better off as competitors, rather than falling under the same ownership.