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The Fifth Color | Make My Media Marvel

Oh how far our Agent Coulson has come...

Oh how far our Agent Coulson has come …

Confession time: I haven’t seen the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet. Don’t get me wrong, I want to, but things have been busy here, and when I do tune in (thanks, Hulu Plus!) I want to give it my full attention. TV has become very serious in recent years, and the best stuff tends to require the viewer to invest some brain power into the shows.

It’s a good thing, but it can get a little exhausting. And if you’re a Marvel fan, there’s a lot to keep track of in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters, locations, devices and plotlines might trigger some stored bit of trivia in your brain and lead to a different appreciation for the approach.

Here at The Fifth Color, I try to keep abreast of all the Marvel comics news I can, and it’s requiring me to track more and more movie rumors and casting decisions — which is weird because The Fifth Color began as a way to relate to comics and how we readers view the stories. But comics are becoming more than just you and the pages in your hand; there’s a now a strong media influence on how we see comics. Even something as simple as a mobile game can draw you into a comic shop and change how you see the books on the shelves. No joke, I had a customer show me a comic cover he had unlocked on a Marvel mobile game and ask me if we had that book in stock. He wanted to find out what it was about. That’s good marketing.

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University of Baltimore offering class about Marvel movies

marvel-avengers

If your parents ever complained that all of those Spider-Man and X-Men comics would interfere with your school work, show them this: This spring the University of Baltimore will offer a course examining modern culture through the lens of Marvel’s films, television series and comic books.

Thought to be the first class of its kind in the United States, “Media Genres: Media Marvels” will not only explore the intricate plotlines, characters and backstories that form the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also try to understand our fixation with superheroes and fictional global threats. Students will also study Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of the “hero’s journey.”

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Marvel’s ‘Big Hero 6′ blackout

BigHero6-JrNovelization

Coming soon (but not from Marvel)

Walt Disney Animation has premiered an adorable two-minute clip from Big Hero 6 that highlights the relationship between young Hiro and his robot Baymax, and has me looking forward to the Nov. 7 release of the film.

Even from the limited glimpses we’ve gotten of them, the characters are already appealing. I sure would be down for reading more stories about them. However, Marvel has no plans to release any comic books in conjunction with the premiere of Big Hero 6 — no reprints of the original stories that inspired from the movie, no new comics … nothing.

As the first Disney animated movie to take advantage of the House of Mouse’s $4 billion purchase of the House of Ideas, you’d think this would be pretty exciting for Marvel, and something it would want to promote. And yet, Marvel is surprisingly quiet about Big Hero 6.

There are no plans to reprint the 1998 original Sunfire & Big Hero 6 miniseries by Scott Lobdell and Gus Vazquez, or the 2006 follow-up Big Hero 6 by Chris Claremont and David Nakayama . Asked about that last week by Comic Book Resources, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained, “The characters and stories that have appeared in our comics are very different from what they are in the film. Releasing material that would be viewed as movie tie-in product would be a disservice to filmgoers. We wanted the Disney folks to be able to create their own unique style and story, unencumbered by those older stories.”

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The Fifth Color | ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ brings us the future from the past

This actually happens in a movie.

This actually happens in a movie.

Once again, I found myself sitting in a theater at midnight, watching credits roll by and wondering “How on Earth did they get away with this?”

Marvel movies, for all intents and purposes, are incredibly risky. Where as the Distinguished Competition fears treading outside its bankable Christopher Nolan sphere on the big screen, Marvel Studios continues to push the boundaries of what an audience will by into.

Let’s put it another way: There was one moment where I realized I was sitting in a packed theater as people cheered for a prison riot started by a raccoon and a tree. Frames of this movie, taken out of context, feel like I made them up. The plot is purely run on emotion rather than anything logical or realistic. At times, even the emotional context is mocked by characters on the screen. Just look at the soundtrack! It’s like an hour’s worth of “-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s.”

And yet, for all this absurdity, it works. It works really well.

Marvel keeps doing this, though. It keeps bucking tradition and taking chances that are paying off with big bucks at the box office. Iron Man was a movie about a hero few people knew about and rested entirely on the strength of the lead actors, and it created a franchise. Thor looked so unique and treated its source material like Shakespeare, and audiences cried out for another. Captain America: The First Avenger told possibly the most honest and altruistic hero story ever put to screen. Marvel’s The Avengers brought all the other movies together for a complete cinematic universe.

With Guardians of the Galaxy, audiences will be taken back in time.

WARNING: No real spoilers, as what I’m mentioning was in the trailer for a half-second. But if you wish to remain pure and unsullied, please do yourself a favor and go see Guardians of the Galaxy and enjoy the ride. Everyone else, read on!

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SDCC | Check out Marvel’s limited-edition ‘Guardians’ mini-poster

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Comic-Con International attendees who are lucky — or devoted — enough to make it into Hall H on Saturday for the Marvel Studios presentation will walk out with a limited-edition Guardians of the Galaxy mini-poster created by Matt Needle of Poster Posse fame. (The British graphic designer also produced two nice-looking prints for Poster Posse’s 75th-anniversary tribute to Batman.)

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The Fifth Color | The fault in our Marvel stars

Keep runnin', little guy!  You'll make it to the big screen!

Keep runnin’, little guy! You’ll make it to the big screen!

The past few weeks have given us drips and drabs of drama regarding two movies on Marvel’s amazing slate of cinematic wonders: Ant-Man lost long-attached director Edgar Wright and hunted down a new one (successfully, I might add; Peyton Reed’s indie-comedy cred is solid with Mr. Show and Upright Citizens Brigade, plus Down With Love is a personal favorite), and Doctor Strange now has Scott Derrickson directing and a slew of casting rumors. It’s made my Twitter feed abuzz with opinions and fancasts and denouncements of studio interference in the creative efforts of the auteur. It seems everyone wants to talk about the next Marvel breakthrough hit.

But not the comics. God forbid we ever talk about the comics. Ant-Man and Doctor Strange are absent from the shelves, outside of cameos in Original Sin, a canceled gig on the FF for Scott Lang and … well, something odd going on with Doctor Strange in New Avengers. As I scroll through Tumblr and Twitter demands about how Doctor Strange and Ant-Man should be presented, no one seems all that keen on picking up a comic with either character in a starring role. When contradicting someone’s fancast, I offered my own choice for Doctor Strange as a Ming Doyle sketch, and was told that “drawings are not good actors.” Oh, man, I hope they were joking …

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Samsung, Marvel strike partnership that draws in comics, film

From Thursday's Galaxy Tab S event (courtesy of Samsung)

From Thursday’s Galaxy Tab S event (courtesy of Samsung)

Samsung on Thursday announced a partnership with Marvel designed to showcase the graphic capabilities of its new Galaxy Tab S tablets, a direct challenger to the Apple iPad.

With the July release of the Galaxy Tab S, users will receive a free three-month subscription to Marvel Unlimited, the digital service that features more than 13,000 issues from the publisher’s catalog. Over the next year, tablet owners will also receive early peeks at Marvel Studios films, including The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as access to Marvel One-Shots and other content.

The agreement also calls for “the world of Samsung Mobile” to be seamlessly integrated into the Marvel Universe, both on the screen and on the page, which translates as product placement in films and comic books. That’s of course nothing new for movies — indeed, Marvel’s The Avengers was used to debut the new Acura supercar — but it’s not seen quite as often in comics. That said, Marvel has inserted (if not exactly “seamlessly integrated’) sponsored logos into its pages, through in-story signs, billboards and T-shirts.

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Welcome to the age of the Marvel Cinematic Crossover

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

What did you do last weekend? Nothing much, probably; no real reason to get excited. After all, it was just another awesome Marvel movie opening. Granted, “awesome” isn’t an objective description, and surely some people had a pretty miserable time. But judging from reviews, user ratings and my own anecdotal observations, odds are a significant majority of the approximately 11 million people who watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier enjoyed it.

The film has been thoroughly reviewed — you can read CBR’s take here — so I won’t get into a big assessment. (Suffice it to say, I liked it.) Instead ,what I want to talk about is the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how it hasn’t just successfully adapted stories and characters, but the very experience of the Marvel Comics Universe.

It is now well-documented that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is a big comics fan. The difference, however, is that he didn’t grow up with them, but schooled himself on Marvel’s stories while working under producer Lauren Shuler Donner on the first X-Men movie. That distinction might have given him the ability to view the characters and concepts without being hindered by nostalgia, and helped him to dissect how Marvel’s framework could be used for future movies. Hollywood is an even more collaborative business than comics, so it’s unlikely that credit rests solely with Feige. But he certainly was an advocate for leaning more faithfully into the source material.

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The Fifth Color | Cinematic innovation by blowing stuff up

Captain America: the Winter Soldier poster by ancoradesignLet’s get this out of the way first: so many spoilers ahead, you guys. So very many spoilers.

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. So please bear with the incredible amount of spoilers ahead in this week’s Fifth Color, not to mention the rampant speculation about what’s ahead of us yet. This one is big, perhaps the biggest Marvel movie since the first Iron Man.

The short and spoiler-free version is this: Go see the movie. It’s brilliant, very well thought out, and if you’re a fan of the Ed Brubaker years on Captain America, you’ll not only enjoy the tone of the film, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the twists they throw in. #itsallconnected is the simplest way to put it.

This isn’t traditional cinema any more, not with Marvel Studios. Each of its films have been both sequential and separate, with a slowly rising degree of success. By all rights, you should be able to watch The Avengers without watching all of the solo movies that came before it, but you get a grander enjoyment if you’ve seen more. Iron Man was a fun movie, but now it’s even more fun in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trilogies come close to this kind of storytelling, but even then there’s a commitment to seeing at least the first one to get the idea of what’s ahead. With Marvel, audiences already knows the theory behind superheroes to enable them to jump in when one catches their eye. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, at its best, should be able to be viewed as separate movies and as parts of a whole. However, after Captain America: The Winter Solider, there’s not much of that whole left.

WARNING: Not joking on the spoiler thing. If you are spoiler-fearless, already saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier or just want to jump into the speculation pit with me and float around in a very well constructed cinematic universe, read on!

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Mondo unveils ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ prints

Kelly_CA2-cropped

Coinciding with the opening of Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Mondo has unveiled a new limited-edition print by Rich Kelly that will go on sale today. Naturally, the poster casts the spotlight on the film’s two title characters, but it also makes room for Black Widow and Falcon.

You may recognize Kelly’s work from previous Mondo prints like Django Unchained and Son of Frankenstein, or his posters for Breaking Bad and Kings of Summer.

As usual, these Mondo prints are very limited — 435 copies of the $45 regular edition and 225 of the $75 variant — so they’ll disappear quickly You have to follow MondoNews on Twitter to find out what time today they go on sale.

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Three interesting Marvel tibits from that ‘Businessweek’ profile

businessweek-marvelBloomberg Businessweek‘s profile of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, timed to coincide with the release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, naturally focuses on the film division, but it also drops some fascinating nuggets about the company’s corporate culture and the 2009 purchase by Disney.

• “In March, Feige gave me a tour of Marvel Studios at Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif.,” writes Devin Leonard. “The offices are furnished like a college dormitory, with threadbare couches. The hallways are decorated with cardboard superheroes hawking Pizza Hut and Burger King. There’s barely enough room in Feige’s office for a replica of Thor’s hammer.” While that description may come as a surprise to some, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter has a well-established reputation as a penny-pincher, reusing paper, limiting the number of coffee pots and even fishing paperclips out of trashcans.

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The Fifth Color | A Widow’s worth

captainamerica-winter-soldier-15Captain America 2 posters, everybody!

Yep, this year’s Marvel kickoff film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, due out April 4 (which is a little weird considering the studio historically releases its films the first week of May, giving Free Comic Book Day a boost), so we’re starting to get that media blitz a-rollin’ with teaser trailers, Super Bowl spots and the like. However, nothing will be seen as consistently or as widespread as the movie posters.

Keep in mind, posters are a little boring these days, especially for action films. There’s a certain color palette used, that gray-blue shine and airbrushed effect that has become shorthand for “cold and hard.” You know, like an action hero. But I digress. The movie posters released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have the traditional “‘people walking at you from a horizon line,” two different profiles of Cap with headgear on or off, Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson looking mean and, the one a lot of people are talking about: Black Widow.

There’s just something about Natasha. Everyone has an opinion about Black Widow as a character, about Scarlett Johansson’s body shape and about what the retouching of photos does to our perception of beauty and realistic expectations of women. A single image has caused so much of a stir, I can only imagine what people will do when she actually shows up in the film. Because we can’t talk about Johansson’s performance and Natasha’s place in the storyline, let’s focus on the poster.

WARNING: No spoilers, but if you’re sensitive to body issues, I understand if you’d want to skip this one today. Everyone is beautiful, Photoshopped or not, voluptuous or rail thin! Now let’s go complain about a celebrity.

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Captain America to return to Disneyland this spring

Captain America at the D23 Expo

Captain America at the D23 Expo

Captain America, who made his Disneyland debut in August for the D23 Expo, will return to the Anaheim, California, theme park in April as part of the marketing push for Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

No further details accompanied the announcement. Visitors to Disneyland can already experience the Thor: Treasures of Asgard and Iron Man Tech Presented by Star Industries exhibits, both launched in conjunction with the characters’ respective films.

The Sentinel of Liberty has the distinction of being the first Marvel character to appear at a Disney event (D23) since the media giant purchased Marvel in 2009. He can also be seen on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic as part of the Avengers Academy kids’ area.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens April 4.

Quote of the Day | Marvel comics, movies and editorial direction

captain america25“I’m just jumping on this one because I find it ludicrous. First of all, that’s what we should be doing. In order to help the print business we need to get as many people as possible excited about the content we’re delivering them, and the less confusing it is for them to engage in our product, the more success we’re going to have. That’s one part. We should be communicating with each other. [...] At the same, we allowed Ed Brubaker to kill Captain America and have another guy run around in that costume for over 18 months to two years when we were making a Captain America movie. We stopped making Thor the comic book for over a year and then we re-launched it with JMS and Oliver Coipel telling his story. Does Marvel give editorial direction on what you can and cannot do with our characters? Yes. We did that before we made movies and before we went to Disney. That’s what the editorial group does here for a living.”

— Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, responding to the suggestion that companies like his “with a big media operation” are “controlling the print content to a greater degree in order to make it align more successfully with the other media”

The Grumpy Color | Carla and Tom take apart 2013, Part 2

legodcmarvel_pinterestToday, Carla and Tom continue to muse through all the news the Big Two have brought us in 2013. See can read the first installment here.

Tom Bondurant: The Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers division) is now five and a half years old, and consists currently of eight movies, a handful of shorts, and a half-season of TV.

Carla Hoffman: Holy cats, we work fast!

Tom: However, it’s about to get a lot bigger, adding two movies next year, plus the four Netflix series (and the Defenders movie coming out of those). Clearly this looks like a long-term commitment — but how long can it go?

Carla: Ask me after Ant-Man. That’s going to be the hardest movie to sell to non-comic fans. If that turns out to be a surprise hit enough for Ant-Man (whichever alias he may be) to turn up in an Avengers movie, then I can’t think of a property that wouldn’t work on the silver screen as long as the right creative team is at work.

TB: See, I think Ant-Man just got a lot easier to sell, because now it’s “Paul Rudd joins the Avengers.”

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