At plenty of past Marvel Comics panels, employees from their publishing branch have been asked questions about movie, TV or video game projects, only to have the answer be “Sorry, but that’s not our department.” Well, that shouldn’t be a problem at Friday morning’s “Marvel: Your Universe” panel, headed up by Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, joined by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Marvel publishing president Dan Buckley and Craig Kyle, senior VP of creative development for Marvel animation (and X-Force co-writer).
Quesada started the panel by quickly showing slides of Secret Invasion, Punisher: War Zone, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine film panels, generic teaser slides for the upcoming Thor, Ant-Man, and Avengers movies, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and Ultimate Alliance 2 video games, and animation projects like Wolverine and the X-Men, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Hulk vs. Wolverine, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, and the Super Hero Squad cartoon, based on the line of toys.
After introducing the panelists, which included Marvel marketing's Jim McCann, Quesada opened up the panel to questions.The first question concerned a fan who wanted to see more "scheming" female villains rather than highly-powered ones. Quesada seemed to mostly agree with the fans thoughts, though a bit confused by the question. The next fan asked who might play Captain America in the upcoming "Captain America" movie, suggesting Ben Affleck. "Do you guys want to see Ben Affleck?" asked Feige, only to receive a loud chorus of "NO!""""" Quesada added that he thought the "Spider-Man" movies putting the character in the classic red and blue suit was a big step forward with movie adaptations, showing that comic characters don't have to be drastically changed for the screen. Someone who enjoyed this summer's "Incredible Hulk" asked if the film, which grossed less than "Iron Man" and other summer blockbusters, met expectations. Feige said that if the fans enjoyed it, it met expectations, and that in Hollywood, if a subsequent movie makes "a dollar" more than your first (the 2003 "Hulk"), it's a success, which this year's movie did. "And the Hulk will certainly return," said Feige. Any chance of Marvel publishing moving out west? Quesada didn't rule it out, and added that he enjoyed the west coast weather, but said they already work closely with their west coast division and they don't seem al that far away as it is. Buckley added that he thought New York City was such an important part of Marvel Comics, that he thought a move would change that. An employee at a Santa Barbara comic book store complained that none of the current Hulk comic books resembled the "Incredible Hulk" movie. Buckley advised the employee to refer back to the classic trade paperbacks in print, and that everyone in each division should have the ability to "stretch their legs" and do something "fresh and excited," instead of corporately dictating storylines. "Planet Hulk and World War Hulk didn't have anything to do with the movie, but we generated a lot of interest with the character," said Buckley. A fan asked a relatively rambling question about the importance of continuity, and characters changing over time while simultaneously staying true to their origins. "It's always a challenge," said Quesada. "I think people mistake continuity for consistency, and consistency is much more important...in the movies, too, I think there's going to be a consistency in the characters. Tony Stark is still pretty much the same guy he was back in the '60s, just with a little bit of modernization." "I don't want people to have to have seen all five movies, just to understand the sixth movie," added Feige. "That's the problem with continuity, if you get too mired in it, you make a small group of hardcore fans really happy, but you alienate about 90 percent on the rest of the audience." Before the next question, a fan praised the "Hulk vs. Wolverine" animated movie that screened yesterday at the con. He then asked what it was like, day-to-day, to work at Marvel. Both Feige and Buckley discussed how the offices work together, with Buckley saying "we're one of the biggest mom and pop shops out there," and saying, simply, "We email a lot." A particularly dedicated fan who purchased 10,000 shares of Marvel stock when it was a couple bucks of share thanked the panel for improving the company's product (and making him a bunch of money, presumably). He then asked if Jon Favreau would be returning for the "Iron Man" sequel. Feige said he couldn't comment on it, but asked the fans if they wanted him back (they did). Dr. Doom fan asked if he was going to be in the "Avengers" movie; Feige said he could not be since he's included in the "Fantastic Four" rights that are with 20th Century Fox. Buckley said that Doom will be a big part of their publishing plans for next year. A common convention question - when will Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine finish? - was asked. Quesada said that Damon Lindelof owes him "one more" script, and that the fan should ask Lindelof about it if he sees the "Lost" co-showrunner around the con. Will the five original Avengers be in the "Avengers" movie? Feige said they have the rights to them all, and it's currently the plan to have all five of them on screen together. More from the "Eternals" or the "Inhumans"? Buckley asked the fan if he's been reading the current "Eternals" series by the Knaufs, which the fan wasn't even aware existed. He also reminded the fan about the upcoming "Secret Invasion: Inhumans" mini-series. Kyle was asked if there were any "dream" projects for the animation team. "Since I've got to Marvel, there's a series I've been wanting to make," said Kyle, referring to "Wolverine and the X-Men", starting next spring on Nicktoons. "We have about 60 plus mutants in the series". "We tried to young up the X-Men" [referring to X-Men: Evolution]. "It wasn't what we should be doing. No one wanted to see '9021-X'. I appreciate the work we did on the show, but X-Men works one way, the way it is in the books." The first official "One More Day" complaint of Comic-Con International 2008 (well, in a Marvel panel anyway) was logged - the ol' "Peter Parker would never make a deal with the devil" line. Buckley stepped in, and said that Mephisto wasn't the devil, he's a Marvel supervillain, with no religious connotations. Quesada also stepped in, noting that it wasn't actually Peter Parker that made the deal, it was Mary Jane. He explained (again) that he thought "One More Day" was necessary to get Spider-Man where the character needed to be. A fan, wearing a hat with frog eyes on it, asked (appropriately enough) when the X-Men villain Toad will come back. Kyle said he'll be in the 'Wolverine and the X-Men' cartoon. Any more characters they'd like to "re-do" in films, like "The Incredible Hulk" (the fan specifically asked about Juggernaut, not liking that he wore a "padded suit" instead of being CGI)? "It's funny, if he was CGI, people would ask me to put him in a padded suit," said Feige. He added that Juggernaut is a great character, and that more could be explored than him just smashing through walls, but there didn't seem to be any concrete plans. As far as "re-dos" go, he said they discuss such things a lot, but didn't mention anything specifically. Any details on the "Thor" movie? "I don't have a whole lot to tell you," said Feige. "I think I'll have a whole lot more next year." More plans for digital comics? Buckley said that whatever they do in that regard has to complement (not just "not hurt") comic book stores, but "I'll think you'll see a lot more coming out of digital media group in the next six to 12 months." Possibility of another Marvel vs. Capcom game (a question that excited the audience)? "Would it be possible one day? Yes. And maybe sooner than you think," teased Feige. Despite dressing up as a DC character, a fan in a Cassandra Cain Batgirl costume graciously got the last question. She asked if Thor will be treated like a "god" in his movie, and Feige said "They're not gods in the comics, they're extremely long lived multi-dimensional beings," (which is how the Norse characters were depicted in Earth X, but isn't necessarily the canon in Marvel Comics), but they will be treated like (or referred to) as gods on Earth in the movie.