There’s a sinking feeling when the magic fades. The hollowness of reality creeps in with age and you can’t help but notice the company pulling the creators’ strings, pulling our strings. They play on our childhoods, warping and lessening the magic they created with each remake of a beloved story. But the Mouse doesn’t stop there. Disney has infested nearly every franchise out there like rats aboard ships. They lurk behind so many corners and honestly I’m terrified.
In one of their reaches for more money, Disney got itself in a sticky situation these past few weeks. They asked for a 50/50 partnership with Sony Pictures, which seems fair, until you consider the deal Disney wished to change. In the old deal, Sony Pictures shouldered the production cost of the movies and reaped the box office rewards while Disney got all rights to the merchandise, access to Spider-Man for crossovers such as “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and 5% of open weekend box office profit.
Sony saw no profit from Spider-Man in the MCU. Disney ended up losing their grip on web-slinger and fan-favorite Spider-Man when Sony Pictures refused the company’s demand for more. They endangered the deal with Sony. Some Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are devastated because it means Tom Holland’s Peter Parker can no longer appear alongside the other Avengers or X-Men.
Many fans are choosing to blame Sony Pictures for the fallout of this deal. Some even go so far as to claim Disney deserves Spider-Man, claiming they know how to handle the hero, as if Sony’s Academy Award-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” didn’t brilliantly handle nine web-slingers.
Before the Sony Spider-Verse and MCU, the two major companies have been playing tug of war with Spider-Man for years. The fate of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man reflects what happened years before with Andrew Garfield’s run of Peter Parker. Disney produced two movies and then wanted more from Sony. This time Sony must face the backlash from MCU fans, even though the corporations wouldn’t be having this fight if Disney would release the rights to Mickey Mouse.
The copyright laws keeping Spider-Man from becoming public domain in the first place are the same ones ensuring Disney continues to own the iconic mouse. Spider-Man has starred in 10 televisions shows and nearly as many films. The world doesn’t need another Spider-Man movie or series, no matter how perfect Tom Holland fits the role of Peter Parker. This battle over billions is only happening because Sony and Disney are aiming to squeeze even more out of Spider-Man.
But even without the beloved character, Disney will survive. This billion dollar company owns nearly every franchise out there. They lay claim to Earth with numerous versions of “National Geographic” and the whole galaxy with “Star Wars.” With the deal with Fox handing them the “X-Men,” Disney owns nearly every other character in the “Marvel” index, including the R-rated hero Deadpool.
Trapping Fox also means that Disney controls “The Simpsons.” The oldest animated sitcom still airing operates under the wide Disney kingdom, and the iconic family isn’t the only show filtered through the mega-conglomerate’s brand. Even now before the impending release of Disney+, the company dominates cable networks with ownership of over 100 networks, including ABC and ESPN.
The networks might not all sport the mouse ears, but Disney’s lurking in the shadows. Sports commentary flies far from the magical stories that got Disney their start. Of course, with Pixar in Disney’s back pocket and the rights to distribute Studio Ghibli, the company still dominates the world of animation.
DreamWorks stands tall as the only truly worrisome competition for the giant company as it is the highest-ranking non-Disney owned or partnered company. Despite this dominance and the company’s historical influence, Disney has been shying away from animation. Their bread and butter for so many years doesn’t satisfy the industry giant anymore.
With a slew of live-action retellings and remakes of iconic Disney cartoons, the founding magic that raised our generation has disappeared from their works. The classic movies like “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” and even the Marvel cartoon shows that aired on Disney Channel like “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” and “X-Men: Evolution,” are shoved into a different medium and made just different enough that audiences can flock to it for the familiar characters.
Most of the time magic like past Disney content cannot be replicated, with the MCU as perhaps the only notable exception. No matter how hard Will Smith tries, he is not Robin Williams, and CGI cannot replace the beauty of animation. The live-action “The Lion King” proves that when the entertainment giant traded the hyper-realistic CGI for the heart of the story.
Despite how fantastic it would be to see the beautiful Halle Bailey as a mermaid, repeating the same story shot for shot gives the audiences nothing. Any story warped to fit the live-action medium cheapens the original story. The more saturated the world gets with the same stories, the more the works lessen everything that made them special. Changing the race of a character or adding a new song or two isn’t enough to hide the grabbing hands reaching for more money or the manipulation that plays on nostalgia.
They keep dusting off past-animated movies and switching up just enough for viewers to keep the audience coming back. The rate they keep making these unasked-for remakes keeps increasing. Despite even more live-action remakes hitting the big screen, the entertainment giant still can’t be satisfied. Disney+ promises to flood their platform with even more remakes, reboots and retellings.
“Lady and the Tramp,” set to air on Disney+ with the same hyper-realistic CGI that dethroned the “Lion King,” marks just another live-action remake no one asked for, alongside the likes of “Dumbo.” But Disney+ isn’t just going to be retelling subpar remakes for the big screen. After all, classic animations aren’t the only content Disney can repackage. The films and shows that defined generations are getting recreated for the new streaming platform.
The “High School Musical” series has the appearance of every teen drama around with the name of a trilogy that influenced a generation, while the “Lizzie McGuire” series clearly plays on the emotions of the millennial with an adult Lizzie trying to navigate adult life. If Disney owns the rights, a version is sure to appear on Disney+. Naturally, the rest of the franchises under the Disney kingdom must appear on Disney+.
From the “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” to the slew of Marvel shows, Disney+ plans to use every franchise in their armory to get audiences to pay $70 a year. The floodgates of Disney+ opens Nov. 12 and it’s only a matter of time before everything that made Disney good and magical becomes warped and corrupted.
It won’t be long before Disney owns everything. Only a few outstanding franchises remain outside of Disney. “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Jurassic Park” and James Bond rival some of Disney’s ongoing franchises, but they no longer produce the same amount of content. “Star Trek” and the DC universe compete with “Star Wars” and Marvel, but they don’t win, not in the box offices and soon probably not even through streaming sites and cable.
Disney dominates so much media and has so much money. The company could do whatever they wanted. They could tell any story and not have to worry about eating costs. Cost is a non-issue, and they can afford to do the gorgeous, time-consuming 2-D animation and could keep telling family-friendly versions of international myths. So many non-European fairytales and myths lay around the world dying to be retold in classic Disney fashion, like “Moana” or “Coco.” But Disney doesn’t.
Disney remakes and repackages, trying to recreate magic and gold while losing what made their stories so magical. Disney reaches for money by manipulating older generations so they can buy more ways to repackage and remake the same content, the same stories. The weight Disney carries, the power they have with every cent they earn, every franchise or studio they buy scares me. They could rule the world, rule Hollywood.
They’re influencing everything they touch and everything they touch is just for the money, despite the strong creators and powerful message they unintentionally spread. They don’t need to own the world. They don’t need to own everything. Perhaps losing their grip on Spider-Man will show the world that Disney already owns too much of the endlessly looping content we consume.
But if Disney gets their way, Sony will come around or they’ll just buy Sony. They did it with Fox. Only time will tell how far the rat infestation will spread, who will Disney buy next, which classic is up on the chopping block. How much longer can the magic last?