I had the distinct honor to interview the owner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Facebook page. Below is the transcription of the video above.
(Devin) Hey guys welcome back to Geek News Now. I am Devin, one of the authors over at geeknewsnow.net. And joining me on a very special interview tonight is Paris Lockhart, who is the founder, owner, manager of the “Marvel Cinematic Universe Facebook Page”. And as of today 541,000 followers. That is insane so thank you for finding time to jump on this interview with me. I appreciate it.
(Paris) Yeah. Thanks for having me I appreciate it. Yeah, we’re just scaling, so many people are jumping in the group and it’s a fun place to be. If you want to follow any Marvel content this is where we are. This is where it’s at. We got a lot of outside people providing all sorts of contents, so it’s pretty cool. Yeah.
(Devin) And you guys have shared some of the articles from Geek News Now and a bunch of us over at Geek New Now are naturally on that page. So one of the things that’s really impressed me about the way you run your group is that you don’t get a lot of infighting. You know, there are some groups, and I’m not going to name names of particular franchises, but it’s like the biggest enemies are the fans. And you’re never going to make the fans happy. And I don’t see that inside of your group, which I don’t know if that’s just excellent moderation on your part, or if that’s just the core of the Marvel fandom as it is.
(Paris) It’s a combination of it, right? So we do get infighting. You know, you always have that comics versus the movies, right? People that dive deep into the comics that know every single thing about the comics that have big problems with the movies. And you have people who watched movies that have never read a comic and all they know is just the movies. Right. So when you do have that, we just make sure that, you know, be kind to one another and keep it cordial. Like if you’re a comic reader, right? What better way of helping someone else that watches the movies that have never read a comic by just sharing the information about that character. And maybe providing a link or, you know, a story or article that maybe that you have written, and then have them come in and read that. And then now they’re up to your level. Well, maybe not to their level, but they know some history about the character.
(Devin) Yeah, that’s great. Well, we’re going to circle back to your Facebook page because any way you measure that, that is an impressive group and number, but I want to know you. And so I put our message out among our GNN writers and everybody over here at Geek News Now. I said, “What questions do you want me to ask this guy?” And so we came up with a few that are about you. So the number one, and this is mine. Where does your geek fandom start for you? What was it in the beginning where you first geeked out about and were passionate about that launched you on this path?
(Paris) Um, I probably would say, you know, growing up, I had GI Joe toys. I had transformer toys. This is Grimlock right (gesturing to his shirt). So I had toys and that’s where it started. Right. Um, there was a time where kids would go outside and play right. A lot more than what it is now. Right, well, you would go outside in the front yard and running around, or the neighbors, you know, with all my friends, we all grew up in a couple houses next to each other. So, and we were all the same age range. So we just all went out and played and, you know, we all geeked out to, you know, GI Joes and He-Man, and transformers, all those things, you know, so we just would have all these toys and we would just play with them. And then, you know, once the Nintendo came, um, I don’t think we could afford it when it came out. But I think I know one of our friends, he had had one and I know we started playing a little bit of video games and then Nintendo came out that sort of just was like, um, I’m all in, right? Um, so that’s where I really started geeking out, when I was little and then I, you know, that’s a certain age I started reading comics, so I started buying comics. I still have a few that I purchased from when I was back then growing up. So, um, I started paying attention to more of that. Um, and you know, baseball cards and, uh, basketball cards. I got into that stuff. I still have got tons of baseball cards are probably not worth anything anymore, but I was like, I’m gonna keep these cards because they’re always going to be, you know, but I heard cards are coming back, so we’ll see. So that’s where it all started. It’s like anything, you know, I look back, I get stuff that I see that people have listed that are like collectibles now. And it’s like, man, I wore that toy out when I was a kid, when he made collectible, if I had it, it’s in pieces.
(Devin) No, I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s kinda the same thing for me. My generation was the Power Ranger generation, the late eighties, early nineties and so you had the Ninja turtles, the Power Rangers, and you know, you’re going out and you got your G.I. Joe action figures in the front lawn. And there was a time when that was what you did. And even, even if you had a Nintendo, you know, the parents were like, “Ah, you play too many video games, go outside.” And, you know, we didn’t have streaming services. So when our one episode that we were going to watch that day was over, it was like, well, now I’m bored. So let’s go something, you know, it wasn’t on demand.
(Paris) No, I get it. I get it.
(Devin) So who is, and this may be a loaded question asking the guy who’s the head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Facebook page, but who is your all-time favorite superhero from any universe? It can be comic book, whatever. Just, just the one that if you were going to sit down and pick up this comic and that’s who you were going to read as your, your happy go-to place.
(Paris) I’ll just grab a few iron man comics. So, uh, Iron Man, this is all like early nineties stuff. So Iron Man and War Machine, those were, you know, there’s just their dynamic of how they ran that comic back then, and that’s always carried over. You see Iron Man in the back there (gesturing to his wall). So Tony Stark has always been my favorite. Sure, sure. I like a host of a lot of them, but it always goes like that.
(Devin) Yeah, there was, there was something about, I mean, Iron man, you almost don’t have a franchise unless you have a billionaire with no super powers who pays for everything, but Iron Man was so much more than that. He was complex. He was, you know, really one of the reasons I think everybody feels Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect person to play him. The very nature of Tony stark is a redemption story. And so, you know, that made RDJ perfect to play the role. And then you’ve got war machine, you know, here’s his best friend who is out there fighting with him on the same level as him and everything they represented.
(Paris) Oh, I get it. Yeah. I mean, Iron Man all the way. Yeah. Um, yeah. And, and, you know, and one of the things they didn’t really touch on in the movie, maybe in Iron Man too, they did a little bit when he was drinking. Um, and you know, he got drunk and was shooting and all that stuff. But in the comics, he really had a serious alcohol problem. Right. And, you know, growing up, knowing family members that had that
*The signal cut out briefly*
(Devin) You froze up on me for just a second there. What was the last part you just said?
(Paris) You know, dealing with alcoholism and Tony stark. And family members, you know, and how roads, Roadie stuck with him and tried to help him out of that. Regardless of what Tony was saying to him and treating him and all this other stuff, but he stuck by him and even took over the mantle while he was dealing with all that. So it’s pretty cool.
(Devin) Well, that’s one of the things and I think Stan Lee and so many others always saw this as is the thing about superheroes was so that we could see the best, both the best and the worst of ourselves. You know, and that’s why you could ask the question to a hundred people, “Who’s your favorite super hero?” and everybody’s going to have a different answer. Some people are going to have the same, but it’s because we found somebody, that to some degree, there’s a humanity, you know, when you look at what makes a super hero, great. There’s a relatability, there’s a humanity to them. You know, I think back to, as a kid, like the original blue Power Ranger was the super nerd that nobody really understood and didn’t really fit in and got bullied all the time. And that really, I mean, that was me, you know, I had the big glasses and was the nerdy, geeky scrawny kid that got beat up all the time. And that was me because now it’s cool to be a geek, you know, it wasn’t always so, but I remember looking at that thinking, “Wow, here’s a guy who’s just like me. But he can be a superhero too, you know?” And when you’re four years old, six years old, seven years old, and you see somebody that’s like that and you grow up with that you’re like, okay, anybody can be a hero. So you see correlations to your personal life. It’s what makes a hero, a hero, right? You know, we can relate.
(Paris) Yeah, definitely. You’re like probably liked the green lion in Voltron.
(Devin) Yes, yes, absolutely. Yep. That was it. Basically any character, like that was like the arc of my childhood. I like how they put those characters that they make those characters for a reason, because there’s a lot of people that are, you know, that can relate to that. I mean, there’s a ton of people out there like that, right? That, you know, that’s my guy right there. Right. And, and well, something that comic books especially do is his comic books can show. A view of the world that we would never see in movies that wouldn’t, you would never get it put into a movie ever. You know, you go back to older comics, like Enemy Ace, where you’ve got a Nazi turned war hero soldier. If these comics that came out in the sixties and the seventies, that address things like racial issues, and inequality issues, and war, and comics can show us parts of ourselves and the world that we’ll never get from television and movies, because of just the nature of censorship and what it is and, and that’s appropriate.
We look at the comic books. And if you look at it, take a, take a stack of comic books from the nineties, and you’re going to see a reflection of what it was like to be a nerd in the nineties. You’re going to see a reflection of how we saw superheroes in the nineties. You know, we look at captain America.
And we see the World War II, Uncle Sam “I want you” posters. You know, we see a character, that’s a reflection of the time period. Falcon, same thing, you know, here we have the first African-American superhero coming out one year after the 1968 civil rights movement. We have a reflection of the time..
(Paris) Yeah. Well, comics are making a comeback, which I’m happy. I’m glad they’re making more of a space for it. So yeah, I’m, I’m digging. What’s going on in that?
(Devin) I remember reading the thing I think, and I’m sure this is an old statistic because it was a few years ago when I saw it. But I think in like 2014 or 2015, somewhere in there, more comic books were sold in the month of April than like had ever been sold in like 10 years. And it was like, well, this is happening, but we had the resurgence of the DC universe and the Marvel universe and all these things.
And these movies are introducing our kids and our younger friends and everything into the world that we grew up in a lot of ways. So it’s kind of what we were talking about before we went on stream where, you’ve got the group and you’ve got the people who know the comic books and then you’ve got the people who’ve just seen the movies and now we’re creating this broader audience.
(Paris) So yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah, same here. I echo all of that. It’s awesome. I can’t wait to see what, what comes out in the next five years, especially with comics and, and how you’re bringing it back. So I’m happy. I’m excited out there.
(Devin) Oh yeah. And one of the things I want to ask your opinion on, and this could just be a perception thing on my end, but I feel like because we are essentially a group of nerds and geeks that are passionate people by nature. That that’s, that’s what being a geek is. It’s being a passionate about something. I feel like as a whole, we’re a very, very inclusive group. You know, because we don’t really care where you’re from. We don’t really care what your background is. We don’t really care anything about you. It’s like, “Hey, you’re really into that too. Great. Now I have somebody to talk to about it.” You know, there’s nothing wrong with liking sports but not everybody’s athletic, not every, but anybody, regardless of anything can be a geek about something. And so we have, we’ve created this super inclusive culture and that’s, that’s what I hope continues to stay is that we, as we are our own culture, but anybody can be a part of ii and the way that I think the way that Marvel Studios is doing, they are inclusive.
(Paris) They’re really driving that. I think that in comics it was inclusive, and it took a little bit, but I think people started coming around to it a little bit more, but now it’s like, it’s global, you know? Introduction to enter Marvel and a lot more people to go back and read comics about characters. And that’s what we do in our group. It’s like somebody posted today on our group, “I was having a discussion with one of my friends and they said that if I don’t know the comics that I shouldn’t be a fan”. And, you know, hundreds of people started pouring in on that, on that post. But they were given her confidence saying, “No, you don’t have to read all the comics to be a fan.” Like, “Oh, this is this”, you know, giving her recommendations. I was so proud. I was like, thank you group. Thank you. Thank you. I made a post, but everybody else was sort of took care of it. It was awesome. To see everybody come together. And, embrace, you know, one guy in there, he was like, “Yeah, I read, you know, I’ve read almost every comic. I’m a big time nerd, but no, you don’t have to be a comic geek to know and be a fan of Marvel, and be a fan of the movies and TV shows and all that other stuff.” So, that was amazing. It was a proud moment. That post is still active in the group right now, and that people are still not there.
(Devin) That’s great. It all goes back to this. We are a culture. You know, we’re more than just people who like something it’s, it’s a culture of people who all to some degree have experienced that, and even right down to, “Oh, well the, the movie isn’t as good as the book”. We’ve been hearing that for forever pick, pick a franchise that was made. Okay, well maybe the movie is good as a movie. Maybe the book is good as a book. Maybe Tolkein got paid per word, and that’s why he spent 10 pages going on about the Lonely Mountain, and that’s okay. You know, it’s being able to enjoy something for the sake of enjoying it. That’s one of the things that I love about the group that you have. And kind of circling back to the group one of our guys wanted to ask, “Your Facebook group has over 500,000 members. What has been the biggest challenge, running a group that size?
(Paris) Um, I think, uh, the biggest challenge is spam, right? It’s a spam post. It’s the people who create fake profiles to try to just tear the group down. But we have filters on how you can join the group. And then if you don’t meet those filters, you can’t join. And then it has to be manually approved. And then we have to go in and look at the profile and all that other stuff. So, it’s just that, and then of course you have the people that their intent is just a cause havoc in the group. That’s all they’re there for like, some guy was in there just harassing a whole bunch of people. People report in the comments and stuff like that. And I blocked and kicked him out, but I reached out to him. I was like, “Hey, so why are you doing all this stuff? Cause I really didn’t want to block you. But you know, I was just curious.” Right. Cause uh, you know, the person in this picture has had a family and kids and all that stuff, but he was really rude to people. So I was just trying to figure out like why then he was like, “Oh, I just joined just to cause havoc.” And I was like, “well, at least you’re honest. Thank you. But, uh, um, yeah, you’re not welcome”
(Devin) How nice it would be to have that much free time.
(Paris) Well, I’m like, why am I wasting my time doing this? But I was like, you know what, I’m just going to do it, just do it. Right?
(Devin) So counter to that, I mean, your biggest challenge it sounds like spam and trolls, but what about biggest successes? How are you measuring the success with this?
(Paris) Um, well, I’ve, I’ve set a goal, right? You know, this isn’t my day job, of course, zero profit from this. One of my goals, what we call North Star, and I work at Microsoft and Xbox and specifically the X cloud team, and you know we set these goals called North Stars. So I took some of that up, like what I do at work, and added it to the group. So I’m like, okay, what’s my North Star here? What am I trying to accomplish? You know, I had had a few check boxes. Marvel Studios? Checked. People from the industry in the group? Check. People from Facebook in the group? Check. Artists, designers, web designers, folks all over the world? Check. People in every country? Check. And then like the ultimate goal is to get the 3 million members in the group. So that’s sort of my North Star of where I want to get the group to. And I think if we’re able to do that, you might be able to cause some noise on in the world. So that’s sort of the goal. For the first time ever millions of unified geek voices. And it’s strictly Marvel too. So I know we’ve got a challenge, you know, a lot of people are both, and I struggled with that. Should we bring these two? Should we do a DC thing? But I’m like, you know what? I’m going to stick with this Marvel thing and just see where it takes us. So that’s where we’re at right now in this particular space in this group.
(Devin) Wow. Yeah. And you kind of answered my next couple of questions with that, and I love the North Star analogy. Because the North Star is constant. It doesn’t move. So it’s something that’s always easy to see above all other goals, you know, above all the other stars. So I’m going to start stealing that analogy. That’s awesome. All right, well I got one last question. So Iron Man is your favorite super hero, but. if you could have any super power or mutation, what would it be and why?
(Paris) Oh man. There’s so many to choose from. There’s some cool ones too. Like, if you were Charles Xavier, right? That would be weird and creepy that you can read other people’s thoughts. You know, you could you be Mr. Fantastic. Right? You can stretch around and do everything. Captain Marvel is interesting. She can fly really fast. Thor is a God, but you got to carry a hammer. I probably would say if I can have any super, super power, um, I probably would say captain Marvel, she seems like that power source, right there seems like it’s manageable. Doesn’t drive you insane or anything like that. She’s a little cocky in the comics and the cartoons. Like she sort of does things on her own because she thinks that she can do everything, do it all by herself, you know, she can’t. I think I would go with captain Marvel’s powers over everyone. Incredible Hulk, he’d be pretty cool to have too. But his thing would be, you would need to be able to manage it, you know?
(Devin) Right. Right. And I don’t, I like the professor Hulk concept, but I think it would be extremely inconvenient to be 10-foot tall and 800, 900 pounds of muscle all the time. Imagine what would be the grocery bill. I’ve always been partial to a Nightcrawler and the ability to teleport. What I thought was interesting was, was the idea of his teleportation once they started kind of developing it in the X-Men comics, because that was where it started was the X-Men comics, then the X-Men cartoon in the nineties was a big part of my introduction into comic books, but was that he didn’t just teleport, but he moved through dimensions. So I thought that was kind of a different way to approach it because there were other characters that teleported like Wraith, and I can’t think of everybody, but it was a very common superpower. But I just think about how convenient that would be. You know, wouldn’t have to car insurance would have to pay for gas anywhere. Do a quick run to the store. No big deal. I’ve got, I’ve got three kids. It’s how easier it would be just to keep up with them. Like one crying here? Poof, here’s your bottle. Keeping them entertained too. Like you really want to start messing with them then that’s how you do it. Well, Paris, I appreciate you joining me on the interview tonight. And I look forward to see what happens with your group, and comic books, and Marvel.
(Paris) Yes. Awesome. It was a pleasure, and for the friends at the Geek News Network I’ve been watching the videos. I’ve been tuning in. So you guys are doing some pretty cool stuff over there. Let’s keep in touch and let’s do it again.
(Devin) Yeah, absolutely. Well you take care brother.
(Paris) All right. You too. Thank you.
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