Disney Unveils Changed Mickey Mouse Immediately After Retiring Classic

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Credit: Disney

Mickey Mouse was just officially retired to a shocking lack of fanfare, but it turns out the Walt Disney Company had another mouse already waiting in the wings.

disney danny elfman mickey mouse
Credit: Disney

This last Friday, the iconic face of Disney was functionally dismissed as the company shut down the acclaimed Disney+ series The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse by pairing up the titular rodent with his original Steamboat Willie version.

It was a shockingly abrupt finale for one of the most recognizable and beloved characters in the history of modern pop culture, but it seems that Disney is not quite as done with Mickey Mouse as it seems.

Related: Finally, We Say Goodbye to Disney’s Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse and Copyright Laws

While the Walt Disney Company has not come right out and said it, it seems likely that Mickey Mouse is being phased out of prominent appearances because of copyright expiration issues.

Basically, Mickey Mouse (originally intended to be dubbed “Mortimer Mouse”) was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1928; in most circumstances, this incredibly valuable piece of intellectual property would have already entered the public domain, potentially costing Disney an unthinkable amount of money.

steamboat willie
Credit: Disney

However, the United States copyright to the character has been controversially extended for some time by the Copyright Term Extension Act, which has been alleged to have essentially been massaged into legislation by the House of Mouse. There’s a reason why it is often called the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.”

Even with that impressive piece of corporate lobbying, the iconic mascot will become part of the public domain in one way or another in 2024.

The Disney100 Celebration

However, before that happens, the Walt Disney Company is throwing the Disney100 Celebration, an extensive series of exhibitions, new content, and general frivolity around the centennial anniversary of the company.

As part of that, the company has rolled out the Create 100 global campaign, which partners various creative artists with Disney imagery to celebrate world-changing characters like Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and, of course, Mickey Mouse.

The Structural Sorcerer

Fantasia Art on Disney+
Credit: Disney

One of the pieces being displayed as part of the Disney100 Celebration is The Structural Sorcerer, a brilliantly rainbow-colored sculpture paying homage to the character’s iconic appearance in Fantasia (1940), completely with an abstracted peaked hat and wand.

See it here:

The piece was created by the artist Alaska Alaska and inspired by the work of the legendary late Virgil Abloh (whose company Virgil Abloh Securities presented the piece). The six-foot-tall sculpture is being displayed at London’s Royal College of Art.

Related: Mickey Mouse Flops as Disney Prepares to Retire Character

According to COO of Virgil Abloh Securities, Athiththan “Athi” Selvendran, The Structural Sorcerer “represents the magic of Disney’s Fantasia where Mickey Mouse opens up a world of opportunities.”

Selvendran also said (per Vogue) that “We wanted to bring a piece of artwork that was originally created by Virgil himself into the world through innovative metalwork and craftsmanship and allow Disney fans and future creatives to engage with the sculpture and be inspired by all that it represents… Seeing it come to life this way is such a unique experience, and seeing how far it has come since its inception further proves that Disney is magic.”

Steamboat Willie
Credit: Disney

It may not be the Mickey Mouse we are all used to seeing, but it is nice seeing him get at least one more honorific that acknowledges the magic behind the character.

Should Disney keep Mickey Mouse around or move on from the character? Let us know your thoughts below!

 

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