Want to know more history behind Marvel Comics? Coming to Disney+ at an as-yet unknown release date is a docu-series titled Marvel’s 616 (2020); this series explores the vast stories behind many things Marvel: the characters, the people who worked behind the scenes, and more elements besides while delving into the cultural and societal impacts. Panelists sat down to present the concept to viewers for the 2020 San Diego Comic Con.
The panel ran online with moderator Angélique Roché who talked with guest speakers: executive producers Sarah Amos and Jason Sterman along with episode directors Gillian Jacobs and Paul Scheer.
Amos shared excitement at people watching and learning cool stuff about Marvel; they might even cry a little bit, feel inspired, and feel like they should read more comics. “Marvel really does have characters and creators that speak to every walk of life, and I do think this series really highlights that in a unique way that we haven’t been able to do in the past. And I’m very, very excited for, hopefully, a lot of people to watch at home and see themselves reflected in the people up on screen.”
A clip from Jacobs’ episode “Higher, Further, Faster – Trailblazing Women of Marvel Comics” presented the episode’s premise: bringing the spotlight on the women within Marvel Comics; not just the characters, but the actual creatives and creators — such as Marvel Entertainment VP Sana Amanat and writer G. Willow Wilson — and how they found a way to tell stories of representation and inclusion throughout Marvel’s history. The clip focused on the current Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan and how writer Wilson was surprised to get the call from Marvel to develop this character as she expected a lot of backlash would come of including a Muslim-American superheroine; but the comittment to the character was there.
Paul Scheer’s episode “Lost and Found” reintroduces audiences to a collection of, as stated by moderator Roché, obscure, wild, and bizarre characters. In the provided clip, Scheer interviews a few Marvel writers.
First up is Black Panther writer Reginald Hudlin who took over what was, as Scheer puts it, like a B-list character — Black Panther — and imbued him with energy which resulted in a provocative, successful comic. Next is “Deadpool” writer Gerry Duggan who talks about two past and lesser-known characters: Doctor Druid who, like Doctor Strange, met The Ancient One and received magical powers; then super-speedster The Whizzer who creates tornadoes with his speed. “Cosmic Ghost Rider” and “Venom” writer Donny Cates talks about character Type-Face whose gimmick is villainy via type print theme as revenge for the loss of his sign-making job. Post-clip, Scheer laments not having explored even more obscure characters like Hell Cow the vampiric cow.
The docu-series, at 8 episodes, explores an 80 year history of Marvel history and impacts made and has an anthology nature to it which Amos said made sense because it allowed the team show to really respect each episode/story, each film-maker/story-teller who directed, and let that journey be its own kind of moment; and each episode is going to take viewers on a completely different path.
Sterman added that the idea of the anthology aspect is really using each episode as a way of telling a singular story. Each of these episodes acts as its own individual film in the over-all journey of the Marvel universe. “And the thing that we wanted to do was we really wanted to bring in filmmakers who had a unique voice and unique vision and let them actually play within this universe by finding stories that they were impassioned about; something that peaked their interest, something that they wanted to explore and discover more of.”
Jacobs came into the project knowing nothing about comics but came away having learned much about Marvel and falling in love with comics. Scheer, a writer for Marvel, got to dive deeper into Marvel than he had before.
Having seen the episode clips I really dig these two directors’ respective concepts! The panel only whet my appetite to see and know more about the Marvel history and its impacts on society. I have no doubt that the rest of the show will be informative, enlightening, and flat-out *fun* to watch when it finally comes out! Tune into the panel and the show when it is released!