In buying Fox, Lucasfilm and Pixar, the film studio is on the way to controlling the movie universe – drawing parallels to Avengers’ evil overlord Thanos
Unless you’ve been living in a communications black hole for the past decade, you’ll know that the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of Marvel’s strategic 10-year comic-book movie masterplan, bringing together the whole stable of superheroes for a blockbuster to bust all blocks. The movie itself is about another masterplan: bad guy Thanos is trying to acquire the all-powerful “Infinity Stones”. If he gets them all, and puts them in his shiny fancy-dress glove – sorry, “Infinity Gauntlet” – he can “wipe out half the universe” with a snap of his fingers.
But we can’t ignore the fact that there’s a third masterplan behind all of this. Thanos’s quest mirrors another, less fanciful mission to acquire powerful assets – that of Marvel’s parent company, Disney. For “infinity stones” read “entertainment brands”. Disney bought Marvel in 2009 for $4bn. In 2006 it also bought its animation rival Pixar, for $7.4bn. In 2013, Disney acquired Lucasfilm, owners of Star Wars, for another $4bn. Now it is in the latter stages of a $52bn takeover of rival studio 21st Century Fox, whose properties include most of the Marvel superheroes it didn’t have the rights to already, such as the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four, plus assorted brands from Alien to Avatar to The Simpsons.