We’ve had a bit of a tug of war in recent months with Marvel’s plan for their long running comics and its relationship to its many film properties. There’s the Secret Wars event (reboot) which is coming this summer to combine universes together and change the Marvel Universe that we know and love (once again). Apart from that, there’s been a lot of speculation about the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises and their role in the new Marvel.
As is well known, Marvel doesn’t fully own the film rights to The X-Men or Fantastic Four characters. This is due to that agreement signed with Fox over a decade ago, before the massive success of The Avengers was ever a glimmer in anyone’s eye. The rumor is that mutants and family-based heroics are on the way, making way for more spotlight on the properties Marvel does own and can market how they please.
“[There’s] no way that these movies, which are seen by millions of people, are not influencing what we’re doing in the books, but we’re not looking to align continuity between the two storytelling worlds because, frankly, that would be a venture into madness.
“People can see what Marvel’s done over the years. It’s pretty complex what we’ve pulled off from a continuity and context standpoint through the last 50 to 75 years. It’s pretty impressive. To try to take comic continuity and tie it into movie continuity? Believe me, I work in both the movies and live-action television shows, and it is hard enough to synch those two things up. I’m not looking to invite 70 books a month into the equation.”
Buckley uses Thor as an example of how the movies can influence the comics, noting how the success of the films has brought the printed stories back to the sci-fi roots created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. He’s also not ignoring the fact that comic movies have influenced their source material for a very long time:
I think people like to jump to conclusions. I’m going to be very clear. Let’s go back to 12 years ago. We all remember picking up our X-Men books in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Professor would go in to put Cerebro on and he’d wear a helmet in a room, and whatever room that was and whatever it looked like was up to the artist du jour. But that room now, after the X-Men movie when he rolled into that big open area with the metallic globe that he is sitting inside of with the ramp, and then he puts the helmet on, you go into a Marvel comic now and that’s what that room looks like. The movie defined the mass market perception of what Cerebro looks like. The comics guys are looking at it and thinking, “That’s pretty cool, I think I’ll do that!” So, to say that one medium does not influence the other a great deal would be lying.
The fact is the comics universe continuity is driven by editorial and the creative people within that area: the writers and artists involved with the editorial staff, and business management people in the publishing group. All of those people are well aware of what we’re looking to do with our television shows, movies and animation, me being one of those people. We allow the publishing people to tell the stories that they’re telling, but when a movie comes out and does something with a character that we find to be cool and also is very defining of the character, that will probably start influencing what the comic continuity will start looking like because the creators we have writing those products are influenced by that movie.
It’s a spot on example because if you pick up Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, you can see the influence of the first X-Men movie right there. It’s still the X-Men, the history of the comic is still there, but they’re dressed in leather and Professor X seems a lot more like Captain Picard now. And if DC Comics is your superhero pajama part of choice, look towards the influence of the Batman and Superman films on their comics. It’s a two lane highway of creative thought.
So yes, Secret Wars might change things, Inhumans might become the new go to answer for mutated superpowers, and Tony Stark might sound a lot more like Robert Downey Jr. now. That doesn’t mean you’re going to see the world of the screen overtake the comic pages any time soon. It’s either that or I’m completely wrong and you’re the man now. Feel free to knock me if this bites me in the ass.