Disney Hasn’t Spoken To Marvel About Animated Films in The MCU

By August 28, 2014

Well, this is…unexpected.

When Disney purchased Marvel for more than four and a half billion dollars back in 2009, many (myself included) assumed that the Mouse House would move as quickly as possible to capitalize on their new investment and make that money back faster than you can say “Scrooge McDuck.” The company has certainly made a bundle from the Marvel movies that have been released since then, and with the MCU’s continued advance into the world of television, it seems as if the execs at Disney know what they’re doing. But one thing we’re surprised hasn’t happened yet is an animated Marvel film, either through Pixar or the Walt Disney Animation banner. Sure, the upcoming Big Hero 6 is close: it’s a Walt Disney Animation film that’s based on a Marvel comic. But the two companies actually didn’t collaborate very much on the production, and Marvel has reportedly been distancing itself from the upcoming film.

So when will see an animated film that actually takes place within the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s been established in movies like Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers? Vulture asked Walt Disney Animation and Pixar head honcho John Lasseter if he’d spoken with Marvel about that, and his answer may surprise you:

Not yet. No, we haven’t. If we went directly into the Marvel Universe, that would mean we’d work more directly with Marvel.

There are a couple of cool bits about Big Hero 6 in the rest of Vulture’s interview, so head there to read the full thing, but this quote above is the part that sticks out to me. Lasseter hasn’t even had a conversation with the folks at Marvel yet about making a movie that crosses over into the MCU? That seems totally crazy to me because of the natural way that the two could collaborate, but Marvel seems like a company that likes to do things on its own. It feels to me as if they’d like to keep a sense of autonomy and have been utilizing an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” model to their business so far. That’s not too surprising, considering their proven success. The surprising part is that Disney – a massive conglomerate which OWNS Marvel – seems to be kind of letting the “little guy” push them around. We often look at the studios as cynical machines that churn out product with the sole purpose of making money, and sometimes – most of the time, probably – we’re justified in that assessment. But is this a rare instance in which a major studio is leaving money on the table because they’re actually concerned with the creative output that would result from forcing two subsidiaries to work together rather than letting them naturally find a project to work on down the line? Could be.

Also, Lasseter’s comment amuses me because I’ve heard some of the people at Marvel can be difficult to deal with, and his statement reads to me like, “If we did, we’d have to work more directly with Marvel, and that sounds like a giant pain in the ass.” To be 100% clear – those are my words, not his. I’m just analyzing this from the outside and applying the tiny bit of information I know about how Marvel works internally to give this a possible bit of context. Regardless of Lasseter’s feelings toward Marvel, the fact remains that I’m shocked Disney hasn’t forced an animated Marvel film into production yet. Animated films are often the highest grossing movies of the year, so maybe next time when we’re (myself included) talking about the cynical, cash-hungry studios, we should pause and remember this situation as a counterpoint to that way of thinking.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.