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Subj: Re: Marvel Comics vs. Marvel Films
Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 at 08:10:05 am EST (Viewed 3 times)
Reply Subj: Marvel Comics vs. Marvel Films
Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 at 05:00:15 pm EST (Viewed 127 times)

    I'm guessing I'm in a definite minority on a site like this, but I *do* prefer to see the wheel reinvented (as opposed to an eternal, unchanging status quo). I like getting different creators takes. Different strokes, I suppose.

They always do it in the same way though. Grab your attention with a 'super star' creative team, then six months later replace them with a jobber who turns out middle of the road work but does it on schedule.

Personally I miss the sense of dedication and ownership that comes with a talented creator sticking with a title for a prolonged period of time. That gives me confidence as a fan - I know what to expect, what quality I'm going to get, and that the creator is sticking around because he has the same kind of affection for the book as I do as a fan.


      Well Marvel have pretty much said that this is what theyre doing.

    Where did they say this?

An interview on Newsarama a couple of years back. Cant recall who, but one of the Marvel top-men talking about the difficulties in attracting new fans to their product.


      They have commented that the problem with their product is that people who watch a movie or TV show are intimidated by the idea of picking up a comicbook because either the characters (such as Nick Fury) have no similarity to what they recognise, or titles have such a long and unwieldy histories that there is no natural jumping-on point for a new reader.

      New #1's are predominantly for this reason. They are not for existing fans, they are for the benefit of potential new fans to make the transition easier and more natural for them. I can see the business sense in that, but as a long-time reader i find it very frustrating because everything seems geared towards dragging in new readers rather than retaining the existing ones.

    These are two totally separate issues, though:

Well no, theyre not. They are simply two different ways of dealing with the same problem - how do you convince a non comic-book fan to pick up a comic book? Firstly you make that book look like something he recognises, then you provide the person with a conveniant opportunity to start reading.

    To my mind Marvel is clearly more concerned about #2 than #1. If they were very worried about issue #1, then Thor wouldn't be a woman and Captain America wouldn't be black. Period. My guess as to why some minor* changes have been to resemble the MCU? The changes to the supporting cast of SHIELD characters allow Marvel to sell a SHIELD book to existing readers who want to see a SHIELD comic that involves the folks in the movies and TV show. Also, see my answer below about the relationships between the various Marvel companies as to why there are especially strong similarities between the way SHIELD is depicted on TV and in the comics...

    *minor in the sense that, unlike Cap or Thor, Fury doesn't lead his own solo book and isn't on the active roster of the Avengers

Fury hasnt had a solo book since the early 90's, but he has remained one of the most important characters in the Marvel Universe during that period as a result of the fact that SHIELD is a persistant presence and theme in pretty much ALL of Marvels books and big events. He is and always has been a very important character.

What major event of the last 20 years happened without Fury or SHIELD being heavily involved? They are the glue that connect all of the different parts and characters of the Marvel universe.

I also dont agree that changes to SHIELD in the comics are so that existing comic fans can read about the TV SHIELD guys.

At its peak the TV show had a viewership of about 10 million. It currently has somewhere in the region of 4-5 million viewers. the SHIELD book at its peak sold about 40K copies and is currently selling well below 20K copies per month.

Whilst it is fair to say that all comic fans probably watch TV, they are still the tiniest minority of the overall TV audience.

You have a comicbook with 20,000 readers, and a TV show with 5,000,000 viewers. It doesnt take a buisness minded person to see that you have a potential 4,880,000 more comicbook readers there if you can just figure a way to convince them that they would enjoy the book as much as they enjoy the TV show.

Whilst first and foremost the motivation behind any TV show is to get lots of viewers, I doubt very much that the opportunity to use the high profile of such shows to attract people to other Marvel products like comics would be ignored.

Lets be perfectly honest, if you were making a show based on what comic fans wanted, then you wouldnt pick SHIELD as the idea to back when you look at it poor publication rate over the past 20 years. Theres no evidence of enough interest amongst comic fans alone to justify a TV show.

    On the other hand, addressing issue #2 gives new readers a chance to jump in AND tends to juice sales to existing readers who also jump on first issues. Traditional superhero comics are a uniquely weird phenomenon in entertainment. There is virtually no analogous form of shared-universe storytelling with so much backstory (aside from maybe Coronation Street?). Certainly there's nothing like this approach in Japanese comics. And that massive shared backstory is appealing in some senses but it also means that Marvel has to deal with the fact that they are constantly dis-incentivizing new readers. So yeah, they need to constantly worry about it.

I agree, but where i have an issue is that where as Marvel used to religiously manage continuity through the likes of dedicated editors like Mark Gruenwald, they now prefer to dismiss continuity as being no longer important, or erase it altogether.

Cant recall who said it, but someone recently gave an interview stated that fans shouldnt worry too much about whether something makes sense in terms of continuity. Personally I disagree because one of the things Ive always loved about Marvel is that sense of investment, of being involved in something massive and interlinked, that sense of history. Marvel have decided that history just isnt such a big deal anymore.

Couple of years back Greg Rucka was good enough to reply to an e-mail i sent to him after he decided to change Frank Castle from a Vietnam War veteran to a Gulf I veteran. His argument was essentially 'a war, is a war, is a war'. I argued that not only was he wrong but that his attitude was insensitive as all wars are different, require different types of soldiers fight them, and the baggage those that fight them have to subsequently carry is very different today than it was in 1970 and 1945. A idealistic man like Steve Rogers could not have been produced by a 'dirty' conflict like vietnam. Likewise, a man like Frank Castle could not have been produced by a relatively clean conflict like Gulf I.

That shit matters. Tony stark could have been blown up in any foreign war zone - it didnt have to be Vietnam as was the case originally - but Frank Castle is defined by Vietnam in the same way Rogers is defined by WWII.

Ignoring that continuity because it is inconvenient to explain to new readers how a man who fought in the 1960's can still be kicking ass so well today (its actually quite easy to explain in reality, and anyone who has ever read a comic will accept those reasons without resistance) takes a lot away from the character and makes his motives a lot more difficult to understand or appreciate. In the long term you are diminishing what made the character a success in order to try and make him a success.

    Ahh, here's the thing - I don't think Marvel are really worried at all about better integrating their product across mediums (except in certain specific instances) because it's incorrect to talk about "Marvel" as if it's one business. Marvel's comics are produced by Marvel Entertainment. LLC (a corporate subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company) actually has relatively little to do with Marvel Studios LLC(which is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is also a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company). Marvel Studios doesn't report to Marvel Entertainment (or vice versa) and they have totally separate governance structures. There's very little connection except for rights to the same intellectual properties. Otherwise they both report separately to Disney.

No successful multi-media organisation works without some kind of unified company direction, and Marvel/Disney would be fools if they werent interested in gearing their product to make the maximum of their situation.

Dont know what age you are but I was born in the 70's, so I was there in the 80's when companies like Hasbro realised that rather than just sell a toy to a kid, they could also sell a bed spread, wallpaper, a lunchbox, a pencil case, a computer game, a pair of pajamas, and yeah - a comic book. It was a marketing goldmine, so much so that the authorities (In the UK at least) changed the law to better control how companies like Hasbro could sell such products.

All those different products were produced and marketed by subsideries too. Hasbros comics - such as Transformers - were published by Marvel no less, and it is a well established fact (from the mouth of Simon Furman himself) that they were under intense pressure to only feature Transformers from that seasons catalogue of toys.

Marvel have successfully managed circumvented those barriers through the big screen, producing a product that as well as being insanely popular in its own right provides an amazing opportunity to help make more money accross all of the other mediums they invest in.

They would be lunatics if they didnt try to exploit that, but as an existing fan and a person who is a consumer primarily of just one of those mediums, accepting that something makes sound business sense is not the same as accepting that its a 'good' thing.

    And I know I'm getting long-winded here, but honestly I doubt that Marvel Studios cares at all whether viewers read the comics published by Marvel Entertainment, because it makes literally no difference to the bottom line of Marvel Studios whether they do so or not. And certainly the box office will have taught them that far, far more people are rabid for MCU films than have ever bought a comic book.

Marvel Studios probably dont care - I'm sure as a director or producer you just want to create a great film rather than one that helps sell lunch boxes - but Disney will likely care very much, and I am sure that there is someone who operates many levels above that of producer or director who's job it is to work out just how you get some of those literally billions of Marvel movie fans to spend their disposable income on other Marvel products.

Thats simply how the world works, and to think that Marvel would be any different just because they work in the creative arts would be very naive.

I dont really care about my employers 'corporate message' - I care about doing my job well - but my employer definately cares about figuring out ways for me to better sell their corporate message when doing my job. I expect your employer does too. so do Disney

    I personally find both Nick Fury characters to be rather uninteresting, myself, so I'll recuse myself from arguing with you on this one.

He's James Bond, George Patton and Mack Bolan all rolled into one. Whats not to like?

    Well, I'd quibble that Thor is hardly niche given that the current volume has been a regular top ten Marvel book (and Ms. Marvel is apparently their best seller digitally). But yeah, the X-men seem to have been defined by angst forever and New Avengers went to some pretty dark places. I far and away enjoyed New Avengers compared to Avengers and Avengers Assemble/Avengers World, which I didn't think really dwelled on the same kind of infighting until the time-jump just before Secret Wars.

New Avengers (prior to Hickmans run) and Mighty Avengers were still for the most part about a 'family' of heroes - 'teams' in the most traditional sense.

Hickman entire angle was pretty much exploring the idea of the Avengers as a franchise or a business - that they hire and fire based on their needs at any given moment.

It was an approach that runs contrary to the traditional attitude that to be an Avenger is to be the best of the best, a privilage granted to few, and the likes of Rogers supporting such an idea strikes me as bad characterisation for him (whilst such pragmatism would be perfectly normal for Stark). Manifold wasnt given Avengers status because he was one of 'Earths Mightiest Heroes', he was given it simply because they needed a teleporter...

Under Hickman all you need to be an Avenger is an in-demand set of skills. Bendis was the same when he took on Logan I suppose, but at least Rogers was uncomfortable with that.

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