Box office returns are back for Thor: The Dark World’s first weekend in theaters, and not surprisingly, they’re really, really good. More than $86,000,000 good to be exact. No doubt counting that money feels pretty damn good for executives at Marvel Studios, but the ramifications actually run far deeper than just this one-time lump sum payment for parent company Disney.

Just as the runaway success of subsidiary Pixar inspired Disney to make some fundamental alterations in the way it worked on animated movies and to rapidly promote executive John Lasseter, the money-making machine that is Marvel Studios will likely alter the way the studio develops live action characters and properties and could lead to a similar rise for key executive Kevin Feige. Even if you’re not a Marvel fan, this will likely impact you down the road as Mickey Mouse’s long arm stretches through ABC, ESPN, Disney World, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney animation and a whole lot more. Luckily, that should be a great thing, and I’m here to explain why.

Theme Parks
When Disney purchased Marvel, the studio basically purchased a giant tangle of complicated licensing agreements the powers that be had made with other companies over the years. As a result, certain characters, like say the X-Men, belong to other studios and various other distribution agreements, like the one with Paramount, had to be bought out for large sums of money in order to give Disney full control. When it comes to theme parks, the dots are even more complicated. Basically, Mickey and friends are allowed to use Iron Man and company in theme parks anywhere in the world that doesn’t fall in the Eastern half of the United States or in Japan. It would take too long to get into the whys, but in short, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Hong Kong could start to get brand new rides based on all the classic Marvel characters, but to this point, only Disneyland Hong Kong has announced it will.

If that ride puts asses into the seats and the Marvel Studios films continue to grow in popularity, it’s a sure thing that Disneyland, as in the Anaheim one, will eventually figure out a way to incorporate at least a couple large scale attractions that aren’t merely displays. Because of space limitations, that could involve knocking down some attractions in California Adventure and building over them. It could involve moving parking further offsight and creating an entirely new full-size park or it could involve building on an entirely separate site. If enough people clamor for something, Disney will build it, and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d love to ride an attraction based on the epic Avengers climax.

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