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Why Disney Owning DC Comics Is Not Yet Inevitable

May 24, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Disney DC Comics

With this week’s headlines and mergers. we’re bound to see some shifting over both short and long terms. What was once thought to be impossible is made…possible. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that we thought Disney/Marvel would never get control over the X-Men and Fantastic Four again but here we are. 

Could other “unthinkable” alliances take place?

AT&T announced last Monday that a deal to combine its content block WarnerMedia with Discovery, paving the way for one of Hollywood’s biggest studios to compete with media giants Netflix and Disney.

Under the agreement, AT&T will unwind its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which went down just under three years ago and form a new media company with Discovery. The deal would create a new business, separate from AT&T. 

AT&T said Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav will lead the new company, which will have a new name announced soon. “It is super exciting to combine such historic brands, world class journalism and iconic franchises under one roof and unlock so much value and opportunity,” Zaslav said, adding that AT&T and Discovery’s assets “are better and more valuable together.”

The new mission for the company, Zaslav said, is “to focus on telling the most amazing stories and have a ton of fun doing it.”

Let’s pull back and look at the trickle effect. 

The “Streaming Wars” is about one thing: content. You have all these services (Netflix, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock!, etc, etc, etc) scrambling to own as many IPs as possible and become “the best media company in the world,” as Zaslav told The New York Times.

DC has provided a massive amount of content for movies, TV, animation, and more. As the big get bigger in the corporate world, DC has a lot going for it in most respects. 

Until we come to comic books. As tough as it is to say, big business doesn’t care about comic books. They’re more liability than asset and the only thing keeping them around is the IP value they provide to their movie, animation, and television counterparts. 

For years we’ve been talking about how the comic book industry is going through changes. While still looking to find its footing, the industry is facing some very real possibilities that the old way of doing things is running out.  

I could see a day when they make a deal to sell off the comic book side while keeping the cinematic and television rights, which would look like a very odd deal at first. While the multimedia goes on to thrive, the stories on printed paper become an afterthought. 

I could see them overhauling the entire comic book side into something barely recognizable. A focus on miniseries and graphic novels which would allow them to plaster “#1” on issues all year long. The back issue market would fluctuate and only serious collectors would own classic back issues. 

But a DC owned by Disney? I’m just not there yet. As much as I express my disappointment with DC’s movie side, it still remains valuable and would only take the right creative teams and management to really start cranking out both immensely successful money makers that also please critics and fans. Even though we all know money is the real bottomline. 

While it has its flaws, the Disney/Marvel team has found their blueprint for success. Bringing in the world’s most recognizable characters has great draw but presents its own set of problems. Look at how slow they’ve been to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the mix? 

As things play out among the giant telecoms, expect the landscape to shift more over the coming months. And maybe not for the best.