Is Marvel heading for world dominance?

GS Reporter Montoya takes a look at the state of Marvel today and asks an important question

As Marvel head towards their master plan for world domination I cannot help but wonder what has happened since I was that 10 year old boy (nearly 30 years ago) in my local laundrette reading my weekly fix of Marvel comics while waiting for the washing to end. Stan Lee was the king sitting in his Marvel throne in New York letting us mortal kids read his comics.

From Comicbookmovie.com

Back then it felt like a guilty pleasure, because most people I knew were not into comics. In fact as far as I remember there was only one other person at school who read comics and he was the school bully.

The first time I thought that Marvel was a big deal was when I heard about their big crossover event called Secret Wars. This was huge to me back then as it was the first time I saw all the characters together in one book. Then a few months later I saw the action figures on TV. Oh boy, Marvel had just gone mainstream. I could now buy toys of my favourite heroes and villains. I was now cool!

Before you all cry that their were Spider-Man toys before this I just want to point out that this is my recollection of Marvel and not the official history so just roll with it fellow geeks.

It was then that Marvel started some of their great cartoons for Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men and Fantastic Four.  Marvel had started to push into the minds of non comic book readers. How many times have we read an actor or actress saying that they never read the comics but remember the cartoons. Some of these shows lasted quite a few years and with some great voice casts. I remember fondly watching these shows with some great cheesy theme tunes. Tell me you did not hum along to the guitar and keyboard sounds of The X-Men cartoon. These shows did an incredible job of putting 20 years of stories into just a few episodes. The cartoons were also not afraid to run a story over multiple episodes which seemed to elevate these cartoons above their non marvel peers. This seemed to be another milestone of Marvel where they started to creep into the mindset of the non geek world.

X-Men cartoon

In 1996 Marvel filed for bankruptcy much to the dismay of thousands of fans who were worried that this was the end of Marvel’s empire. However this seemed to be just the next step of Marvel’s evolution.

The end of the 90’s brought us closer to the world of Marvel than ever before. In 1999 the Universal Islands of Adventure opened and one of its “Islands” was a Marvel themed one. Here you could ride a Hulk Roller coaster, swing through New York with Spider-Man in a 3d simulator or drop out of the sky on Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. I remember going in early 2000 and being in my element seeing all the Heroes come to life in the parades (I was nearly 30 at the time but still just a comic geek at heart), however I could not help notice that there were still a lot of people who had no clue who these characters were. This is geek world, why are all these people here I remember my younger self saying. Well I was wrong, this was a way for the public to get to know these characters but would never pick up a comic book to read as it was deemed to childish.

At the start of next decade in 2000 we started to see Marvel clothing hitting the shops. Not only could we get t-shirts but also pyjamas, socks, hats and even bed covers. The marketing machine did not stop there. They targeted schools with stationery books, pens and much more. Even the bathroom was not immune with their Doctor Octopus bubble bath. It was here that Marvel was starting to get “cool”.

If you had the money you could also but the amazing statues of busts of the various characters but at a high cost. I remember going into Forbidden Planet in London and seeing this on the shelves and just being blown away but how good they were and they the price knock me over.

It was around this time that we started to get some decent films based on the Marvel universe. Yes we had had some before this time but mostly with embarrassing results (hey I still love Howard the Duck but come on). The first was Blade which a lot of people thought was anything but a Marvel comics film. This probably helped the success of the film at the time to be honest. Then Marvel hit the big time with Bryan Singer’s X-Men. This was the start of the Golden Age of Marvel Movies. Different studios started to but the various characters, 20th Century Fox got X-Men, Daredevil and Fantastic

Four while Columbia got Spider-Man and er Ghost Rider and Universal got Hulk. This was a great time for Marvel fans as some of the films were just amazing and I still get a kick out of seeing all these amazing characters on the big screen. However something was not right and also the films started to get lazy like X-Men 3 and Spider-Man 3 both of which were much poorer examples of their predecessors for various reasons and there was one big problem and that was the fact in the comics you would always see the other heroes appear in each others comics. Well in the films the only time this happened was Stan Lee’s required cameo. So Marvel did the only thing they could. Marvel wanted to make their own films…

With a huge investment Marvel started work on their own films. In the past they had always been involved in the various studio productions but never had final say on control. Who better to make a Marvel film than Marvel. First out of the House of Ideas was Iron Man, my personal favourite and boy did they get it right.

From Marvel Movies Wiki

Fans loved it, movie goers loved it and critics loved it. This for me was the start of the Silver age of Marvel films. After this point it went into high gear as Marvel not only made great movies but they started to create the onscreen universe with characters crossing over from one film to another. They followed Iron Man with the Incredible Hulk and then Iron Man 2. This year we got Thor and Captain America once again proving that the best people to make good old fashioned Marvel comic films were Marvel. Next year we get the fan boys wish fantasy of The Avengers which will combine characters from 4 previous Marvel films. Also now Marvel are starting to get some of the characters rights back from the studios. They have already got Punisher and Blade back so let’s wait and see what they do with them.

Along with the films came the video games with varying degrees of success but still bringing Marvel to a whole new arena where it could make it’s mark. The comics themselves were starting to attract writers from all areas including Joss Whedon on X-Men and many other talented individuals. All this was building the image and respectability of the House of Ideas.

Only recently Disney just bought the whole Marvel family which is a huge investment that will have some far reaching consequences.

You cannot go anywhere now without seeing someone wearing a Marvel T-shirt or a bag or wallet. Marvel has gone mainstream but also maintained it’s coolness.

So if Marvel are heading towards world domination then I for one will be will be a happy loyal subject but please just stop with the bubble bath…

In the words of the Stan the Man “nuff said”

GS Reporter: Montoya

 

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