Have you ever read, watched, listened to or looked at something and thought ‘I wish I’d created that’?
I love Marvel movies. I’ve been a fan since the first Ironman movie came out, and I’ve seen all the movies since (and quite a few of the TV shows). I was familiar with some of the characters before I saw Ironman, and I’d seen the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X Men movies, but I hadn’t read any of the comics and I would have considered myself more of a DC girl, being a fan of Wonder Woman and Batman, especially the Batman cartoon of the 1990’s.
The phase one movies (Ironman, Captain America, Thor, etc.) drew me in with their hit and miss characters, blend of action and humour and the requisite comic book cheese. Phase two cemented my interest with stronger plots and darker themes (Ironman 3 is about PTSD, The Winter Soldier is a spy drama, Ant Man should be ridiculous, but manages to find the fine balance between hilarity and commentary on scientific responsibility).
However, it is the movies released in phase three of producer Kevin Feige’s epic plan for Marvel Cinematic Universe’s global domination that have blown my mind and made me want to create worlds for people to enjoy on the scale and depth that Marvel has achieved. Civil War is not only a wonderful discussion about how dear friends can fall out over ideology, and how easy it is to do the wrong thing when you are trying to do the right thing, but it also brings the vast collection of characters together in one movie in a satisfying, organic result that was attempted in the Avengers movies, but not quite achieved. Spider man Homecoming has a pitch perfect performance from Tom Holland as Peter Parker, a wonderful mentor/mentee relationship between Peter and Tony Stark (who I would argue is the real villain in the MCU, no matter how much I love his character), and an antagonist who justifies his bad deeds by the need to support his family and workers. Thor Ragnarok is an utter joy of 1980’s space fantasy nostalgia, redeeming two of the most troublesome characters of the MCU – Thor and the Incredible Hulk. Thor, a buffoon with a pretty face in his previous movies, is finally given the god status that he deserves, while the hulk – already made more interesting and likeable by Mark Ruffalo’s understated portrayal, is developed into something more than merely ‘You don’t want to see me angry’.
Why do I want to be like Marvel? Marvel have worked hard to create their cinematic universe, introducing the audience to their vast range of superheroes singly, grounding them in an easily recognisable world, and getting the audience to care about them before slowly upping the stakes by introducing more space based stories and magic using characters, until we were ready for sweeping sagas involving all the heroes and many different planets, magic systems and realities.
I have been building a world and characters since I was a child. It spans thousands of years and hundreds of stories, most of which haven’t got further than notes stage, but many of which have been written and shared with my family. I want to share my world with a wider audience, to have readers to be as entertained and enamoured by my world and characters as I am. Maybe I should take a leaf out of Marvel’s book, and introduce my fantasy characters and their different powers to readers singly, so that by the time the books connect them all together, my readers understand and care about the world and the characters, and are calling out for more.
Which artist or creative works have you encountered that you wish you had been a part of, or which have inspired you on how to proceed with your own creative endeavours? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.