Pixar Saved Disney!

Pixar Saved Disney!

Pixar Saved Disney!

 

Disney has become synonymous with the art of animation and it’s no wonder as to why. Since 1923, the Walt Disney Company has led the industry in terms of story, art, and technical innovation. In fact, without Disney’s achievements in animation, most historians agree that Disney would not be the successful corporation that it is today. However, that’s not to say that the company hasn’t had their rough patches. In fact, there was a struggle in Disney history that relatively few people are aware of; a struggle that was resolved when Pixar saved Disney!

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To explain how this happened, we must go way back to Disney’s Dark Age for context. During Disney’s self-proclaimed ‘Dark Age’ (the 70’s and early 80’s; the years following Walt’s passing), the animation division of the company was going through an artistic rough patch. Disney leadership focused less and less on animation; pushing out films that were cheaper and less artistic than Walt Disney’s original standards. Many animators were dissatisfied with the results of the era. As a result, some of those same animators, under the leadership of a veteran artist named Don Bluth, left and formed their own company; Don Bluth Productions. This was the first time in history that Disney had a real rival for animation; a serious threat that might have ended Disney Animation for good.

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Thankfully, many of Disney’s best animators stayed through the tough times and eventually pushed through the Dark Age and into the Renaissance; returning Disney to the days of innovation and art! With the advent of the Renaissance, and Disney’s return to quality over cost, Disney rocketed past Don Bluth Productions and once more secured itself as the top company in animation. However, the success of Don Bluth Productions had unforeseen consequences; it taught film executives that other companies could succeed in the field of animation. Soon, an art form that was almost exclusively dominated by Disney met with many more rivals than it ever had faced before.

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A great film!

 

 

From the mid 80’s through the early 2000’s, various other companies rose up to challenge Disney’s dominance in animation, and Disney had to work extra hard to stay ahead of the shifting professional landscape. For the most part, this wasn’t really a problem. Disney’s films were usually far more successful than their rivals, and Disney had their long and storied past to rely upon for support and experience. No one could really contend with Disney on an artistic level in the 80’s or 90’s due to Disney’s acclaimed Renaissance. When they stuck to their roots of quality and innovation, Disney was at the top of their game.

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However, it was not to last. After the release of Tarzan in 1999, Disney leadership once more reverted to the strange and dangerous decisions that were made in the Dark Age; effectively ending the Renaissance and beginning a new age called the Experimental Era. While many in the animation department at Disney strove for excellence, they were undermined by corporate leadership. As a result, even though most of the films in this era used bold new techniques and attempted to approach new types of stories, most of the films met with mixed results regarding critics and audiences. With Disney seemingly struggling to stay ahead, rivals swooped in with a vengeance; trying to rise to the top using Disney’s lack of success.

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a great ‘Experimental Era’ film

 

 

But luckily, Disney would not be beaten so easily. Roy E. Disney (Walt’s nephew) strove to keep Disney animation at the top and managed to overturn the leadership of the company in 2005/2006 and replace it with a new one that would respect animation and make sure that it was always striving to be the best that it could be. This new leadership was…Pixar?

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Yes, indeed; Pixar save Disney Animation! Disney had already been partnering with Pixar since the release of Toy Story in 1995, and the company had realized that Pixar had become what Disney Animation wanted to be; a company full of innovation, artistic exploration, and high-quality production. While Disney struggled with their films in the early 2000’s, Pixar had excelled at every single one that they released; appealing to newer audiences and smashing records with their unique stories. Disney started to see that a Pixar partnership was not enough, and that they needed Pixar more than they thought. So, they ended up purchasing the company in 2006. The lesser-known result of this purchase was the leadership shift that accompanied it. With Pixar becoming part of the Disney family, the founders of the young CGI animation studio were unexpectedly co-opted into running Walt Disney Animation; breathing new life into the struggling Disney animation division and filling its offices with younger and fresher artists!

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This ensured that the people behind Pixar’s success would also contribute to Walt Disney Animation’s success; giving Disney Animation strong artistic leadership that would respect animation as an art form and secure the historic company in the new millennium. The decision certainly paid off, because as soon as Pixar leadership took the reins of Disney Animation, the company saw a revival…The ‘Disney Revival’ era that we are currently living in today! With the success of Princess and the Frog in 2009, Disney entered a Second Golden Age.

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Finally, after the release of 2011’s Winnie the Pooh (the last Disney hand-drawn film) Disney’s started its permanent transition to the more commercially stable format of Computer Animation that was pioneered by Pixar! Without these changes, Disney might have lost its animation division to younger rivals and would have been a very different company than the one we know today. Pixar led Disney animation into an era of financial stability for the company spearheaded by commercially and critically successful films like Zootopia, Frozen, and Tangled; making Pixar the inadvertent savior of the Disney company as we know it today!

What’s your favorite Pixar or Disney animated film since the Revival?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

Thor Related to Hercules?!?

A short, silly post about the Mighty Avenger

As you probably already know, the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War dropped last week and, as a result, we lost our minds in excitement. To prepare for the film’s May release date, we decided to go back over some of our favorite Marvel crossover events and refresh our memories on some of our favorite character’s backstories. This is when we rediscovered something in Marvel canon that we had almost forgotten. Thor is a relative of Hercules! No joke!

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the general reaction we get when we say this!

How do we know this? We recently read the Thor entry to the 80’s version of the Essential Handbook of the Marvel Universe; an encyclopedic series breaking down every Marvel character’s powers, story, and appearance in meticulous detail. In this series, they list the known relatives of every hero in the Marvel universe, and under Thor, it lists his mother as…Gaea?

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a scan to prove it; the info is circled! a more up-to-date version is below!

 

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For those of you who don’t know, Gaea (also spelled as Gaia, Giah, etc.) is a primordial Greek Goddess (a powerful alien being that originates from an alternate dimension in Marvel canon), and is the mother of the Greek Titan Kronos, as well as the grandmother of Zeus! And we are pretty sure that everyone knows who Zeus’s son was… Hercules! Thor has this unique relationship with the extremely powerful Gaea for a specific reason; Marvel wanted Thor to have a reasonable reason for being the most powerful Asgardian besides Odin, and they wanted to connect the Asgardian and Olympian mythologies more closely since they were extra-dimensional beings that existed in the same universe.

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Obviously, in the original myth of Thor, Frigga is Thor’s real mother, and this seems to be the route they’re taking in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (but who knows, maybe Frigga will be revealed to be Thor’s step-mother later). However, Marvel’s version of the Thor story presents us with a fascinating family tree which the original myth does not! We did some checking to make sure that this familial relationship is still canon (after all we were looking at the outdated 80’s version of this encyclopedia for nostalgic reasons) and we confirmed that it remains in the Marvel timeline; at least for now. So, what does this mean for Thor?

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It means that, as of now, Thor is the brother of the Titan Kronos, and the Uncle of Zeus…making him the Great Uncle of Hercules! Now, before you pop-culture fans get too excited, we must specify that the Hercules which Thor’s related to is not the one from Disney’s animated film, but rather a Marvel character that we will show below…

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Marvel’s Hercules

Unfortunately for Disney nuts, this dashes the hopes of there being a definitive Disney/Marvel Universe crossover…unless you count Big Hero 6, or say that Disney’s animated film is just a different interpretation (or point of view) of the same mythology shown in Marvel; perhaps Disney’s Hercules is the human’s legend of Hercules, and not what really happened? After all, humans did accidentally mistake the Asgardians and Olympians for Gods, so it’s possible that they could have exaggerated the myths a little from what really happened. You can take that theory as far as you like, but we just find it fascinating that Thor is related to both the Asgardians and Olympians in Marvel continuity; a Son of Odin and an Uncle of Zeus!

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our reaction to this glimmer of false nerd hope.

There’s even a theory floating around that connects Ariel’s family to Hercules’ through Ariel’s father Triton! It’s not our theory, but we do think it makes perfect sense and has a lot of evidence, so maybe we’ll cover the theory someday if you really want to know about it. But for now, just be satisfied to know that Thor could be a distant relation of Ariel! It’s all such an interconnected family tree that it makes our heads hurt to think about it! Who knows; maybe Disney Animation and Marvel might be connected by more ways than just business/ownership. What do you think Disney should do about this?

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