It’s not just executives, filmmakers and talent agents doing cartwheels over the news that Robert Iger has returned to The Walt Disney Co. as CEO.
A formidable sect of diehard Mickey Mouse fans — known casually on the internet as “Disney Adults” — have been sharing emotional messages of abject joy over the firing of former CEO Bob Chapek and the return of Iger. It’s rare to see consumers wade into the high-flying world of corporate intrigue, which is what makes this kind of response all the more delicious.
“He’s out! He’s gone,” screamed YouTuber Diane Banks of Chapek in a video posted late Sunday. Banks, who was clad in overstuffed Minnie Mouse ears, swatted away tears and and danced over her “hope for the future.” Her husband Len, who shares the channel, said that “a dream is a wish our heart makes, and we have all been wishing for that. Buh-bye Bob!” regarding Chapek’s exit.
A private Facebook group called “Disneyland Magic Keyholders,” comprised of nearly 50,000 members, lit up like an Anaheim Christmas tree in the hours following the news.
“Bob Iger was content-first and because he made sure the content was quality, the money followed. Chapek was money-first. [sic] And he cut every corner possible to bring in more money, but the content suffered,” explained a group user named Jodie when asked what Chapek had done to earn the scorn of Disney Adults.
Another proud poster named Rick showed off a Mickey Mouse t-shirt with a homemade button reading, “I’m Celebrating Bob Iger,” and said he was off to Disneyland park to celebrate.
This rejoicing is not totally unexpected. Roughly two weeks before a disastrous Disney quarterly earnings call (which many believe set the board into emergency action to bring Iger home), Chapek offended the Disney adults by implying that Disney’s animated content wasn’t for them.
In an October 26 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Chapek said that “when our fans and our audiences put their kids to bed at night after watching ‘Pinocchio,’ or ‘Dumbo,’ or ‘The Little Mermaid,’ they’re probably not gonna tune into another animated movie. They [adults] want something for them.”
This prompted hot takes and social backlash from Disney Adults and film fans, decrying the idea that animation is exclusively for children.
Among all the creative sendoffs to Chapek and the hero welcomes for Iger, our favorite is a meme stolen from Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” (Do not read on if you are somehow unfamiliar with the events of that film).
Chapek is dressed as Thanos, the planet-destroying villain played by Josh Brolin. Iger is, of course, a surrogate for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
“I am inevitable,” Chapek grins. “And I,” his replacement responds, “am IGER man.”
Let’s see if a snap of his corporate infinity gauntlet can restore Disney to pre-Chapek glory.