Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America-Palooza

Fact - I was just about to write about how much I enjoyed last week's issue of MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPERHEROES: CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Fact - I've been working on an editorial piece wherein I compare Marvel's successful movie-making machine to DC's clunky contraption and how that relates to DC's superior efforts to attract young comic book readers.

Fact - The New York Daily News just "broke" the comics "story" about Steve Rogers returning as Captain America next year.

What do all of these facts have to do with one another? Synergy, that's what!

Little did I know that even that charming little 28 page comic book I enjoyed last week was all part of Marvel's three year marketing push for the Captain America movie (coming soon, Summer 2011!). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've been of the opinion for awhile now that Marvel considers its comic book division obsolete. That they are content to do no more than print comics for an ever dwindling market of thirtysomething males. Without courting any new readers, monthly Marvel comic books will eventually become extinct. Now with the recent price hike to four bucks an issue, that's sure to happen sooner rather than later. The majority of their profits, and the future of their superhero properties, is found in video games, DTV animation and film. That last one is their biggest cash source. Thanks to a decade of smart film making they've been able to merchandise the shit out of their characters. This makes their comics function as little more than promotional tools- a way to keep the brand out there between films and maybe stir up a little mainstream media attention over publicity gimmicks such as Obama appearances or Captain America assassinations.

Marvel has enough clout now to produce their own movies, as opposed to leasing their characters out to different studios. The geek-o-sphere is already buzzing about their upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies scheduled for 2011. Marvel laid out some teaser marketing for them at the end of Hulk and Iron Man last Summer. Since 20th Century Fox produced the only Marvel movie this summer - the unfortunate Wolverine - there was no cinematic platform available to promote Cap and The Avengers. So they enlisted the publishing division to pull out the old dog and pony show. This month sees a focus on Captain America through the aforementioned MARVEL ADVENTURES title, plus an anniversary issue of the "regular old universe" CA title, bolstered by that Daily News article. This kind of promotional push makes the Captain America brand vital. Basically they're trying to create a mainstream demand for these films by reintroducing Cap into the pop culture consciousness. It's crazy, complicated shit and Marvel has become very adept at it.

So what about that issue of MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPERHEROES: CAPTAIN AMERICA? That little stand-alone issue that's a small piece of an awesome and terrible marketing juggernaut? Well, it's pretty good. I'll post my favorable review of it tomorrow. And if that just makes me another media pawn in Marvel's promotional machine - so be it. I have no problem with helping Galactus as long as I can turn some folks on to a legitimately good comic book in the process.

Retailer Brian Hibbs has a more cynical view over at The Savage Critic.


  1. Interesting. Amazing to think, not that long ago, DC was rolling out film after film, some starring 2nd or 3rd tier characters (Catwoman?Swamp Thing?), and Marvel couldn't get a film off the ground.

    Now Marvel is own going to OWN the movie houses for the next few summers, while DC tries to figure out what to do with Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc--all characters who should have been movie franchises by now.

  2. Problem is DC has all of their characters in one studio. Marvel had a bigger talent pool (and more money) to play with because they worked with many differnt studios. But by launching their own production company they may have limited their options. I guess we'll see...

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