"Look, I want to get this out in the open," says Marvel. Disney nods, indicating that he's listening. They're sitting at angles from each other, not face to face but still able to look each other in the eye, but Marvel isn't looking up. Marvel hasn't been looking up much lately. He used to be much happier, back in the day. He'd written about happier endings then, too.
"Go on," says Disney, patting Marvel's arm in a friendly sort of way.
"It's just --" Marvel looks up, separates his hands which until now were threaded together in his lap. "I'm not like you. What I produce, it's not what you produce. I'm political and dark and I kill off characters people love. It's in my nature. I don't see the world the same way you do, and I don't --"
He breaks off, doesn't finish his sentence. "We might not work together so well. That's all."
"You write about human beings," Disney begins.
"And mutants, and gods, and aliens," Marvel adds.
"But all essentially human," Disney says. "I believe in learning from life and doing what you can with what you've got. Don't you?"
"Yes, but --"
"So what if we use different ways to convey this? I've got the Princesses; you've got the Avengers. I cater toward kids and adolescent girls; you cater toward college students and adults. Your stories are darker, sure, but they're not against what I believe in. Maybe you've lost sight of your dreams a little. And you're a lot grittier than I will ever be. But that's just how you dress it up." Disney smiles, and takes Marvel's hand. "But I believe in happy endings. And I believe in us. And I know we can make this work."
Marvel looks down at their hands, looking less troubled than before. Then the lines around his mouth deepen into a small, wry smile. "No harm in trying," he says at last. "I guess I've been missing something lately. Hope, maybe. Or maybe it's just innocence."
"Even Spider-man has to grow up eventually," Disney replies. "But there's innocence left. What about the Young Avengers? The Runaways? Or First Class?" He sits up suddenly, feet thumping the floor as he is struck by a bolt of brilliance. "What if you teamed up with Pixar and focused on one of them?"
"If I what?"
"Think about it," Disney says. "The Runaways would look great in Pixar style. Or you could go with someone else! I know a guy who spent an afternoon designing a 3-D model of Thor. It could happen!"
Marvel drums the fingers of his free hand against his leg. "That would be pretty cool..."
"See?" Disney says. "We'll work out fine. Keep doing your dark and gritty, if that's what sells. But, Marvel..." He trails off, grips Marvel's hand with both of his, and leans a little in. "I'm here now. If you find yourself wanting to return to brighter days -- I'm here to help."
"Yeah?" Marvel smiles properly then. "Hey, thanks, Disney. I'm gonna hope you're right."