One of the major — if not THE major — reasons that Disney purchased Marvel two years ago for $4 billion was that the House of Ideas supplied a ready-made audience of material aimed at boys under 18 — the one quadrant Disney has always had the toughest time reaching. Disney does princesses and Pooh great, but they had to create a whole cable network that could be specifically branded for boys — Disney XD, which already airs various Marvel cartoons.

So this look at just how Disney has used the Marvel universe by Mike Gold is quite interesting as he points out that Marvel TV shows in development at Disney include the Hulk, AKA Jessica Jones (ALIAS), Cloak and Dagger, and a possible Miley Cyrus vehicle based on Mockingbird:

Step back a pace and take a look at what’s going on here.

Most of these shows are built around female superheroes. As headliners, such characters are anathema to motion picture studios. But Disney is betting heavy, heavy bucks that the distaff side will draw a sufficient audience to warrant the investment.

That’s pretty cool – and very risky. Women heroes haven’t fared much better on the small screen: Nikita was renewed by the skin of her teeth, The Bionic Woman revival flamed out, as did Charlie’s Angels redux. David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman didn’t make it past the pilot stage. Yet Disney is developing no less than three Marvel shows built around women.

Although Marvel’s movie slate is totally boytastic, it does seem that the small screen offerings are fitting into the Closer/Medium/Damages/Prime suspect vibe: women solving crimes and kicking butt. The small screen has long been much friendlier to female protagonists and Disney/Marvel can’t help but have noticed that.

It also fits into some theories from the time of the sale that felt that Disney would revert to type and make even Marvel’s world of superheroes way more girl-friendly than you ever thought it could be. X-23, where you be?


  1. “Disney XD, which already airs various Marvel cartoons”

    Really? When?

    I’d be happy if they would just show some #$%&ing cartoons on Disney XD. They have the best Marvel thing Marvel has ever done, The Avengers cartoon, and you have to wait through about 167 1/2 hours of Pair of Kings a week to get 30 freaking minutes of Avengers at 2AM in the mother %$#@ing morning. Disney has exactly three TV shows right now that are not $#!%. Phineas and Ferb, Avengers and Super Hero Squad and they all but never show the later two.

    (I get really angry when I don’t get my cartoons.)

  2. p.s. They did not create a boy network. They just took their cartoon channel, changed its name and decided to only air Suite Life reruns and Pair of Kings.

    How can Disney not have a channel that shows cartoons? Right now, my kids’ favorite channel is Boomerang. (Mine too.)

    (Oh, God I hate Pair of Kings so much. Kill me.)

  3. Disney also has its Disney Family Channel, which might make a great non-ABC outlet for a Miley Cyrus Mockingbird. While I can’t say for certain, Family Channel seems to show programming with an older Disney Girl in mind.

    Mind you, if Disney looked in its own stable and revived Kim Possible, that’d be a step in the right direction too. A Miley Cyrus Mockingbird show might suggest that they follow the pattern already set by Kim Possible, but that might just be me. Hopefully it would feature recurring villains (like Klaw or the Melter or some such characters) that could be actors wielding cool props as they threaten the safety of the world.

  4. Lars- Zeke and Luthor is pretty annoying. Its about 1000 times better than Pair of Kings or Suite Life though. But on a scale of ten with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes being a 10, Zeke and Luther is about a -14.

    p.s. Did you see the parody Mad did where it was Zeke and LuthOr as in Lex Luthor on a skate board. Now that was good.

  5. You can see why diversifying the Marvel audience wouldn’t be a high priority for Disney, mind you. Disney as a whole is doing just fine in reaching female audiences; from Disney’s perspective, a division that reaches male audiences IS diversity.

  6. The Marvel cartoons are on DisneyXD from midnight to about 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday night. A pretty good lineup. Spiderman, Ironman, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer and more.

  7. @Shannon

    ““Disney XD, which already airs various Marvel cartoons”

    Really? When?

    I’d be happy if they would just show some #$%&ing cartoons on Disney XD”

    You don’t actually watch DisneyXD do you? I saw at least half a dozen marvel toons on their programming alone just today.

  8. I have two kids. I see way too much Disney XD. Yeah they show Phineas and Ferb.

    “The Marvel cartoons are on DisneyXD from midnight to about 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday night.” Kids, they love watching cartoons at 3 AM. Love. It.

    The Marvel stuff is buried. They payed billions for it, its better than anything else they have and they bury it.

    And also, let me say this. Disney is a company who’s origins are in cartoons. They do not have a cartoon channel.

    Time Warner has two cartoon channels.

    Viacom has a cartoon channel.

    Shame on Disney.

  9. Shannon: I live in Denmark so I haven’t seen the Mad parody. I also haven’t seen the Avengers show (although I think it’s running on our local version of Disney XD) — after years of not-very-good animated shows coming from Marvel, I saw a minute of Marvel’s Super Hero Squad Show… and gave up on Marvel Animation ever doing anything I would be interested in.

    Oh, and in Denmark, at least, the Marvel cartoons definitely aren’t buried. In-between Zack and Cody reruns, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior all show lots of cartoons, both traditional Disney and Marvel.

  10. “Yet Disney is developing no less than three Marvel shows built around women.”

    CLOAK & DAGGER isn’t built around a woman, but a woman and a man. Unless they know something about the show’s development that we don’t.