Does the Mouse Own Stu Hellinger?


Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is affecting corporate giants and individual fans alike.

The business consequences of the multi-billion-dollar deal are more obvious:

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company.

An entertainment industry analyst agrees:

“There are so many characters and sub-characters that have not been exploited in any way, shape or form,” [Gareb Shamus, chief executive of Wizard Entertainment] said. “So if Disney decides it wants to do a horror line or a supernatural line — or anything else, for that matter — there are characters for virtually all those themes in the Marvel library. Disney can say, ‘We don’t have to reinvent it. Let’s take something we already own.’ “

That’s why New York fan Stu Hellinger is asking: “Does this means the Mouse now owns me?”

Hellinger is a dead villain in the Marvel Universe, part of the Deathlok story line. Stu says that Rich Buckler, who created these characters, based the villain’s original look on him.

An online source provides this description:

Hellinger is a cyborg (cybernetic organism), and as such is composed of a combination of mechanical and organic parts. His body is composed of his organic brain, contained within a protective shell, with a powerful exoskeleton protection his internal organs, and robotic limbs replacing his originals. He possessed a type of cybernetic telepathy, enabling him to control other machines and computers.

It gets even better. Just like many super-heroes, the villain Hellinger has a “real life” identity. His first name is Harlan.

Stu Hellinger’s comic book alter ego is a lesser-known part of the catalog of characters joining Disney’s inventory. And this is more than simply another business deal, it’s an admission, says Los Angeles Times writer Patrick Goldstein:

The signals of Disney distress have all been visible for some time.

The Pixar deal was a frank admission that Disney’s venerable animation factory had run out of gas. Not long after Disney bought Pixar, John Lasseter gave an especially revealing interview to Fortune magazine, where he told of Iger experiencing a remarkable epiphany when attending an opening-day parade at the ceremonial launch of Hong Kong Disneyland. As Lasseter recalled: “[Bob] was watching all the classic Disney characters go by, and it hit him that there was not one character that Disney had created in the past 10 years. Not one. All the new characters were invented by Pixar.”

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2 thoughts on “Does the Mouse Own Stu Hellinger?

  1. That’s a pretty ugly image of the character. Somehow, Hellinger got uglier over the years. At least I haven’t aged as poorly! I should scan the original panel where the comic book me introduces himself in a classic comic book teaser style. The character is unseen for a while, when finally, there is a word balloon coming off the bottom of a right hand page that reads “Who am I? I’m merely…” and you turn to the next left hand page, where there is a word balloon with larger letters that reads “Hellinger!!” with a large panel image that looks a lot like I did back then.

    The first name of “Harlan” was added some years later.

    Somehow, being a villain has always seemed appropriate to me, even to this day!

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