The 4,000-seat arena was packed this Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center for the opening remarks of Disney's first annual D23 Expo, touted as the "Ultimate Disney Fan Experience."
After an introduction to the D23 fan club and review of Disney's global resources and reputation for creative storytelling, Disney President and CEO Bob Iger remarked on Disney's recent acquisition of Marvel. "Now for anyone who hasn't heard, just last week we announced that Disney plans to acquire Marvel Entertainment," Iger said to rousing applause from the hardcore Disney fans attending the Expo from around the nation. "Marvel owns world renowned superheroes such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, X-Men, and Thor, and thousands of others. We're incredibly excited because we're not only providing the great characters and storylines that Marvel has always produced, but we're bringing together two groups of really talented and dedicated people whose creativity and passion have made both their companies successful over a long period of time."
Iger addressed some of the reasons behind the acquisition, emphasizing the similarity between Disney and Marvel creators and stories. "Marvel stories are marked by great storytelling, creativity and artistic innovation. Does that sound familiar?" he said.
Speaking to some of the potential for Marvel characters to achieve more global appeal, Iger said, "Marvel characters transcend gender, age, culture, and geographical boundaries, and [do that] successfully on both traditional and on new media platforms. So the possibilities are endless for using Disney's global resources to extend and increase the popularity of the Marvel brand and the characters that were brought to life by Marvel's great creative team."
Iger outlined the composition of those global resources. Disney can bring to bare quite a long list of affiliated companies and capital, including: The Walt Disney Studios and their dozen companies and divisions; theme parks and resorts including a large cruise line; consumer product sales and distribution, including high end collectibles, worldwide retail stores, and the world's largest publisher of children's books and magazines; media networks in television, radio, publishing, and the internet; and most importantly a large fan base spanning 86 years of history.
Iger concluded his Marvel-related comments by again accentuating the similarities between the two companies: "Iconic, memorable characters are of course the Disney mainstay as well."
Iger then introduced a special first-ever public screening of the first 30 minutes of Disney's newest animated feature, "The Princess and the Frog," followed by a live musical performance by Anika Noni Rose (voice of Princess Tiana in the movie), a brief speech by Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle on Walt Disney's impact on the city, and, finally, an audience contest to win a night's stay in Walt Disney's secret apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.