By W.T. Bane
Just recently I was able to sit down with Stephanie McSatire of the the Walt Disney Company, where she unloaded the biggest nerd news since the purchase of the Star Wars franchise years ago. Full interview below…
W.T. Bane: Hello. Thank you so much for meeting with me today and giving this exclusive to Nerd Union.
Stephanie McSatire: It’s my pleasure. I’m incredibly excited to make this announcement personally and I can’t wait to see how the world responds. It’s so exciting.
WTB: Well let’s get right to it then. What do you have for us? What could possibly be this big?
SMS: Well we are absolutely thrilled with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and we want to expand that to give our fans the biggest experience possible. So as of this fall, all of our newest acquisitions will be joined together into one big cohesive universe. Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney will all be brought together into one big universe that represents all of our fans. So now you can have all of your favorites together in a universe that will span Movies, TV, Games and Comics. Synergy!
Oh and get ready for the Special Sing-a-Long edition of Mickey’s Marvelous Holiday Special Spectacular featuring appearances by Mickey Mouse, Spider-man, Kermit the Frog, Yoda, Darth Vader, and of course Deadpool. What’s a crossover without Deadpool right?
WTB: Aren’t the film rights to Deadpool owned by Fox?
SMS (to her secretary): CAN SOMEONE GO BUY THIS FOX THING?!?
WTB: Um … wow. Can we step back a second I need to process some of this.
SMS: Sure. Which part?
WTB: So let’s focus on just Marvel for a second. So the movies and the comics will be the same universe?
SMS: Yes! We love our Cinematic Universe and we want to adopt the comics into it. So now they will all be the same universe. Iron Man on the screen IS the Iron Man on the bookshelf. It’s the same character in the same universe. Think of the synergy! Now you can watch the movie while reading the prequel comic while playing an app on your phone controlling an Iron Legion drone that’s in the movie, all while your son or daughter brings a toy into the theater that says their favorite character’s catchphrase along with them during the movie *under her breath* if you buy the special synced edition
WTB: Well aren’t there major differences between those two universes? How will you account for those?
SMS: Oh I’m sure we’ll hire someone to write something that will adjust the characters appropriately. What’s important is we want them to match the characters on the screen to the page and our universe be completely matching across the board. “Out with the old and in with the new,” they say. Personally I’m not worried about the details of how it’s done. We did it with Star Wars and got rid of all that Pre-Disney junk and I know Marvel fans will enjoy our new stories just as much. There is such a long convoluted history to the comics, so this will be a streamlined version everyone can enjoy.
WTB: You’re going to abandon all natural and long cared for progression of a character and force them to adjust to be “more like the movies”?
SMS: Yes of course. Synergy!
WTB: And Star Wars is a part of this?
SMS: Absolutely. Since we bought Star Wars, we’ve given fans a Star Wars universe that matches across the board, without any continuity hiccups like before and given fans a clean slate to tell more of our stories. Who wants Star Wars when you can have Disney Star Wars?!? It’s too bad we have to hold onto those original movies, I was told we couldn’t do away with them too. Can’t you imagine a remade Star Wars film where Yoda tells Luke to “Let it Go” when he asks if Vader is his father? That would be stupendous. But yes, the Star Wars franchise exists in the same universe as Marvel, just a long time ago and blah blah blah. It’s a Disney-Marvel-Star Wars marriage. What can be bigger?
WTB: Did I hear you mention Kermit the Frog earlier?
SMS: Well yes. The Muppets will also be a part of this. Actually he, Fozzie and Gonzo wrote a wonderful draft for the pilot for Agents of Shield, it’s definitely not the version that made air.
WTB: What? Too many songs about Rainbows?
SMS: Oh goodness no. It was very reverent to the spy influence of Agents of Shield in the comics, especially Johnathon Hickman’s “Secret Warriors.” It had many fun, engaging and fascinating characters that were well worth investing in and it was completely original and felt like nothing else in the Marvel Universe and definitely could have totally stood on it’s own.
WTB: Wow. Why did it get shot down?
SMS: I just told you. It felt like nothing else in the Marvel Universe. So we gave it to our writers. Our writers know that it’s more important to plant easter eggs and references and hints for future movies than all that other stuff. We want our viewers to know we have their future interest in mind. They need to know were thinking about the 14 other projects that are 3 years out from production while they’re watching whatever is on TV now.
WTB: By “all that other stuff” do you mean crafting a story that connects and resonates with people on a meaningful level beyond just being part of larger franchise?
SMS: Exactly. It didn’t fit our vision for the connectivity to the rest of the franchise. It’s more important that it fit the rest of our product than to stand on it’s own. As long as fans are constantly reminded with references to the Thor or Captain America movies or if they tie in some way, they’ll still watch it. Fans need to know we’re looking at “the big picture.” It’s the same problem we’ve had with many of our writers and directors. They’re so concerned with “the story” and “what it all means” and all that other stuff you said.
WTB: Do you mean people like Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ales Kot and Kieron Gillen and how all of them seem to be leaving Marvel and many of them because they would rather tell a story that is unique and meaningful to them than to work for Marvel creating just another peg in the wheel of this never ending machine?
SMS: Well if you want to name names.
WTB: Well anything else?
SMS: Star Wars Land! And Marvel Characters at Disneyland!
WTB: Let me guess? Synergy right?
SMS: You got it. Where else can you meet the Tony Stark?
WTB: That must be quite the audition to be Tony Stark?
SMS: Oh no, we have Robert Downey Jr. on retainer.
WTB: Robert Downey Jr will be Tony Stark at Disneyland?
SMS: Of course. He lives there now. He didn’t read in his last fifty million dollar contract the fine print that says he will be chained underneath Sleeping Beauty’s castle between Iron Man appearances.
SMS: Well that’s all I have unless you have anymore questions. Aren’t you excited?? More Disney! More Star Wars! More Marvel!
WTB: Am I excited? Yes and no. You see, Marvel has produced good, quality films before, and they have yet to really put out a truly bad one. The first Iron Man, the first Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are some of their best. However they’ve put out several mediocre films that are cash cows fans will see simply because they are Marvel Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, Thor: the Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron. I was bored all the way through Avengers 2. It was bigger, flashier and “more epic”, but they could not give me a reason to care about what was happening on screen, in the biggest movie of the year.
However, Ant-Man gave me a character I could relate to, who only wanted to do right by his daughter and was having a tough go at life and needed a second chance. A huge part of what I enjoyed about Ant-Man was how far separated it was from the rest of the series and the scenes I enjoyed the least are when it connects to the franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy is the best movie Marvel has made yet, and it’s not because it has anything to do with being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They gave us characters to easily connect with, a story that resonated with us and most importantly, a film that felt completely different than anything we had seen. It feels unique and that’s a good thing. James Gunn gave us a unique story about finding your place in the world and finding reason behind living. That’s why people relate to it, not because it’s a Marvel movie. Marvel should make more like it, and less like Iron Man 2.
I love Star Wars and I’m excited for the prospect of a new film, but Disney worries me when they talk like approaching it like Marvel. Star Wars reaches people on a level Marvel’s movie still have yet to do. Look at the first one. When Luke Skywalker is standing on the dunes of Tatooine staring off into the sunset, everyone watching is there with him, wondering what else is there out there in the world for them? Is this it? What else am I meant for?
Then at the end of the movie, all of us envision ourselves inside the cockpit destroying the Death Star, living out the great adventure and going on to become something truly special. This is what makes Star Wars so special. It’s OUR story, the story we wish we were living out because Luke is us. Would the movie be any better if it was constantly setting up sequels and spin offs for itself? Star Wars was so successful because it meant so much to its fans that it brought them back to the theater time and time again so they could live the experience again. It told one amazing story that stood on its own that fans could relate to and wished to be a part of over and over.
Am I excited for new films? Yes of course, but Disney/Marvel/Star Wars needs to learn that what makes a film great isn’t constant references and universe building. References and easter eggs are fun but they aren’t what I really care about when I spend my money to watch these. Tell one great story and the fans will come over and over.
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