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Cut the Check: A Call for True Leadership at Marvel Comics

(The below is a guest blog post from past contributor Anthony Brown – The Management)

Marvel ComicsIt’s funny how in High School the people given awards for Most Likely to Succeed and Best Leadership rarely are the people who go on to become something super successful or to a position of great leadership. While I do not have access to the yearbooks of the Marvel brain-trust I am almost certain none of the people calling shots over there were nominated or won those awards either. When I am not blogging for Graphic Policy I am actually in a leadership for company as their Director of Operations (not this kind).

Fantastic_Four_645_CoverWhile on my journey to this position I learned from some really great leaders, and as I think about what is going on at Marvel Comics currently something Larry Nichols told me, and everyone, at Devon Energy about doing the right thing sticks out. He told us when Devon goes into communities to drill or frack or do whatever it is they are in town to do, they make sure they do right by everyone in the community not just the people being affected by the work they are doing. In my time there that was exactly what I saw happen. We cut BIG checks to land owners and communities for the inconvenience and then would go in and plant trees and restore playgrounds and do other community work just because.

So how does this tie into Marvel Comics? Well right now Marvel is currently killing off anything related to two of their titles that paid the freight for the company for years because they do not own the movie rights. The Fantastic Four and X-Men are being treated like well… the comic version of X-men in real life. Marvel just ended the Fantastic Four comic. You know just in time for their moving release. The Marvel web-site had not even a blip on it about the last several X-Men related movies. Full disclosure these are the first two comics I read and I have not missed an issue since 1988.

All New X-Men 40 biInstead of Marvel showing any kind of real leadership or appreciation for these two franchises they kill comic book series or continue to do stupid stuff like this (hat-tip to Bleeding Cool). Marvel why not make another great Fantastic Four run? You know the book that you had “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” at the top of for years. Instead you treat it like DC’s Vibe. Why not stop Brian Michael Bendis from his shock-jock-esque writing style on X-men? How does a guy write Avengers for 10+ years and have the fall out of their stories have more consequences for the X-men than for the Avengers? Why not let Hasbro, Bowen Designs, XM Studios and others put out great figures and statues of all the characters we still love; because before the Avengers were the cash cow they are today. The Fantastic Four and the X-Men were paying the freight.

So here is my revolutionary solution sure to change the comic world. Marvel CutTheCheck! I understand The Mouse is calling the shots now and we have to have contrived “events” like AXIS (still trying to figure out the point of that event) Age of Ultron and Original Sin all the time. While each of these had their moments, we all could have done without them. The real point is Marvel is run by grown men, all of whom should know better than to take their ball and go home. Here a fun a fact. Just a segment of what Disney owns, ESPN, made over $40 million a day. So from my vantage point cutting a check to Fox and Warner Brothers and whoever else Marvel needs to pay is not going to put a dent in the bank account. Even if it theoretically did it would be short-lived because the Marvel Movie Machine would crank out a reboot, toys and comics faster than we could write a check to pay for it all. So Marvel show some real leadership and quit screwing us, the comics and the characters that made you great for so long and cut the damn check.

One comment

  • A few things.

    First, Fantastic Four ended pretty much exactly when any reasonable person would’ve expected it to. Robinson was doing something very specific for his run, and he ended it where and when it needed to end. Also, Marvel is cancelling virtually all their titles for a few months for Secret Wars anyway. We have no word on whether a new Fantastic Four series will be launched after Secret Wars, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Second, no, Disney actually can’t just cut Fox a check. If Fox doesn’t want to sell the rights, then that’s that. And I doubt Fox wants to sell the rights to a fairly profitable movie franchise in the X-Men, and a potentially profitable franchise in the Fantastic Four. Buying them back would cost Disney a whole lot more than they’re actually worth.

    Third, to be completely honest, none of us should actually want Disney getting the film rights back. While the merchandising stuff is petty and annoying, we should want the X-Men, in particular, to remain separate. Marvel is already putting out 2-3 movies a year, and they’re getting increasingly into less well-known characters, which is great, because a lot of the characters are a lot of fun. If Marvel had the X-Men rights back, do you really think a Captain Marvel movie would happen? It would come down to making a Captain Marvel movie or another X-Men movie; no way they’d be able to do both.