Blah Blah Blog – Synergy

A post from my old Marvel blog, this one detailing a meeting between the assorted Marvel creative heads where we tried to determine the most essential characteristics of a couple of key characters who’d soon be in movies.


December 10, 2008 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

It’s been another exhausting week, but part of that is because I’ve spent some unexpected time this week participating in something that’s pretty cool. We’ve been having “positioning” meetings among the various Marvel departments in order to make sure that the core attributes of our key characters, especially those for whom we’re developing films and animation properties, are understood by all the assorted involved parties. So it’s a gathering of key people from publishing, film, animation, licensing, digital media and other areas in which we discuss and dissect who are characters are, what makes them interesting and unique, how they speak to an audience in the 21st century, and what the dos and don’t are as they relate to faithfully translating their spirit to other media.

What I enjoy about these meetings are the new insights I get into these properties and how they relate to people, how they impact on them. I’ve probably given as much thought to characters such as Thor, Captain America and Iron Man as any human being alive, yet I still walked out feeling like I’d learned something new about them. Some of these new revelations came from other people expressing their point of view, and a few of them came from me as I dug down deeper into the characters to answer some of the questions that were being put to us.

Running these meetings was Marvel bigwig Alan Fine. Alan’s got a tremendous resume when it comes to creating toys and consumer products, and leveraging intellectual property across multiple areas. It was constantly fascinating to hear what questions he’d pose, and how he’d push to find the proper hook that would make these characters function for a modern audience while not losing their distinctiveness. Also conferenced in was Marvel Films honcho Kevin Feige. I know it just sounds like brown-nosing, but Kevin is so articulate and focused in these meetings, and evidences such a basic understanding as to what makes each character special that I always feel very confident about our upcoming movie properties.

It’s also interesting, though a little bit less novel for me, to hear the insights of Joe Q and Axel Alonso. Joe’s always been great at finding the hooks in our characters, and he always brings such enthusiasm to every story idea or springboard he pitches. And Axel comes at the business of making comics from a very different place than I do, but he’s always intelligent, and always has an insight that helps to strip away the barnacles of time and get to the essence of what’s being spoken about.

There were a number of other people involved as well, of course, and I don’t want to leave anybody unaccounted for, but it’s also not like I did a head-count. So let me apologize to people such as Craig Kyle, who oversees our animation productions, whom I didn’t mention earlier. Rest assured—everybody who was involved was at the top of their game, and some real headway was made. It makes me excited to see what’s going to come out of all this down the road—the same kind of feeling I got when a bunch of us visited the IRON MAN production offices just before filming got under way. These are smart, savvy people doing a job they know very well, and with a keen grasp on how to adapt the Marvel treasures into other areas and still keep them true to themselves.

Synergy, in the best meaning of the word.

More later.

Tom B

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