Did Disney Try to Pretend That Another Company Made the Avengers?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Disney kept Paramount's logo on The Avengers to assuage fears about Disney interfering with the success of the earlier, Paramount-distributed, Marvel films.

Marvel Studios' bold gambit in making their own films (rather than licensing their characters to other studios) seemed to pay off in a big way when their first film, Iron Man, became a surprise blockbuster in 2008. That film was distributed by Paramount Studios (since Marvel Studios was not big enough to distribute their own films). Marvel followed that success up with a solid result with Incredible Hulk later that year (distributed by Universal Studios). In 2009, however, Marvel Entertainment was purchased in its entirety by The Walt Disney Company in 2009. At the time, there were three more Marvel films already in production that were going to be distributed by Paramount Studios. They were released as normal, with Iron Man 2 coming out in 2010 and Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger following in 2011.

Disney then purchased the distribution rights to the last two films in Marvel's distribution deal with Paramount, Avengers and Iron Man 3 (we explained a couple of years ago what the difference is between producing a movie and distributing a movie and why this is preventing Marvel from releasing a new Hulk movie).

As you might imagine, when a major company like Disney purchases another studio, there are naturally going to be concerns from fans that the new owners are going to screw things up and change things with the old product. There were plenty of people who were worried that Disney was going to change things with how Marvel worked.

This led to a legend, suggested to me by reader Jim S., who saw it on TV Tropes, which is specifically that:

Fear escalated so high, Disney apparently felt the need to include the Paramount logo on trailers and posters for The Avengers. Disney will distribute the movie themselves, but the general public presumably associates Paramount's name with the acclaimed Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, and Disney's name with the potential kidification of Marvel.

And sure enough, if you look at the poster...

Paramount's logo is still on it and Disney's is not...

So is this some surreptutious way for Disney to hide behind another studio so that fans don't think they've changed things up?

No, it simply was part of what Paramount wanted in exchange for the sale of the distribution rights of Avengers and Iron Man 3 to Disney. Paramount got a guaranteed cut of the sales of the films (so they made a good chunk of money on two films that they had nothing to do with) and they also got to have their logos remain on the films. Their logo also appears on the poster to Iron Man 3...

So it had nothing to do with Disney hiding behind Paramount.

However, that being said, when Disney started distributing the films themselves, free and clear of any arrangement with Paramount, the Paramount logo went but the Disney logo didn't come in, as seen in this Avengers: Age of Ultron poster...

This is because Disney really DOES believe in the power of branding, to a certain extent. They let the powerful brands that they've acquired over the years (like Lucasfilm and Miramax) appear without the Disney logo, just like they do with Marvel, because Disney likes to keep their different properties (which carry with them different expectations of child appropriateness) separate from the Disney logo, which assures readers of a specific type of product (usually a kid-friendly one).

It's what they used their own studios, Touchstone and Buena Vista for, over the years.

So yes, Jim, there is a kernel of truth to the story, but not the way that you presented it.

So I'll go with the legend as...


Thanks to Jim S. for the question!

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero films.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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