It’s not just executives, filmmakers and talent agents who are agitated over the news that Robert Iger has returned to The Walt Disney Co. as CEO.
A formidable sect of diehard Mickey Mouse fans — casually known on the internet as “Disney Adults” — has shared emotional messages of bitter joy over former CEO Bob Chapek’s firing and Iger’s return. It’s rare for consumers to venture into the high-flying world of corporate intrigue, which makes this kind of reaction all the more delicious.
“He’s gone! He’s away” yelled YouTuber Diane Banks of Chapek in a video posted late Sunday. Banks, who was dressed in overstuffed Minnie Mouse ears, wiped away tears and danced about her “hopes for the future.” Her husband Len, who shares the channel, said that “a dream is a wish that our heart makes, and we have all longed for it. Bye Bob!” about Chapek’s departure.
A private Facebook group dubbed “Disneyland Magic Keyholders,” consisting 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,” a group user named Jodie explained 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 that read, “I’m Celebrating Bob Iger,” and said he was going to the Disneyland park to celebrate.
This joy is not entirely unexpected. About two weeks before a disastrous Disney quarterly earnings call (which many believe put the board on emergency action to bring Iger home), Chapek offended Disney adults by suggesting that Disney’s animated content wasn’t for them.
In a October 26 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Chapek said that “when our fans and audiences put their kids to bed at night after seeing ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Dumbo,’ or ‘The Little Mermaid,’ they probably won’t tune in to another animated movie. . She [adults] something for them.”
This led to hot takes and social backlash from Disney adults and movie fans, who disapproved of the idea that animation is exclusively for children.
Of all the creative send-offs to Chapek and the hero welcomes to Iger, our favorite is a meme stolen from Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” (read no further if you’re somehow unfamiliar with the events of that movie).
Chapek is dressed as Thanos, the villain who destroys the planet, played by Josh Brolin. Iger is, of course, a surrogate for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
“I’m inevitable,” Chapek grins. “And I,” replies his replacement, “am an IGER man.”
Let’s see if a snap of its corporate infinity gauntlet can restore Disney to pre-Chapek glory.