By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)
Critics have been ringing the death knell on comic book movies for years now. In fact, I seem to remember hearing that the end was nigh when Spider-Man 3 premiered in 2007, but I have yet to really see any evidence that audiences are getting tired of the genre. In fact, many headlines heralding Iron Man’s massive box office in 2008 said there was no death knell.
These days, if you are a studio and have any comic book property lying around that you can turn into a movie, you do it. Unless that movie is R-rated… which is what happened with Deadpool. I’ve continually said that if the studios can keep evolving what a comic book movie is, then audiences won’t get tired of them, and that is exactly what happened in Deadpool’s case.
But it wasn’t always this way. When Marvel Studios decided to produce their own films around 2005/06, they had a bit of an uphill battle to climb. Iron Man wasn’t the most popular character, and there were huge issues with awareness, especially in kids.
To congratulate director Tim Miller on his success with Deadpool, Marvel COO Joe Quesada recounts on his Tumblr page a bit of history on how Miller helped make the first Marvel Studios film, Iron Man, a success at the box office, launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“As we at Marvel began plans on the first Iron Man movie, our focus group research showed that we had some serious awareness issues with the character, especially amongst kids. One of the major takeaways was that kids who had zero knowledge of the character had no interest in him because they thought he was a robot. But when they found out that there was someone in the suit suddenly interest went off the charts and they wanted to know all about him and who could build no less kick ass in such awesome armor. Information like that helped us sculpt a plan to build awareness way in advance of the movie.”
To prove that Deadpool would work, Miller created a short CGI film that has now become infamous. It went viral when the short leaked, and secured a greenlight for the film from Fox. Much in the same way, Miller and Blur Studios was hired to create three advertorials featuring Iron Man, with three goals in mind for Marvel back in 2007 as a way to generate interest. Those objectives were:
- Clearly demonstrate that there was a man inside the armor.
- Show off his wide range of cool powers.
- Position him clearly as a hero on the same level as Spidey and Hulk by having those characters show how cool they perceive him to be and valued him as a peer.
Quesada shared the shorts Miller directed and delivered to the fledging studio.
You can see some things that point to Iron Man (falling with the armor offline), Avengers (Hulk catching Shell Head), and even Thor’s ‘cameo’ at the end of Iron Man 2 (newspaper).
The success of Iron Man is what kicked off the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ushered in the current era of superhero films. That success, in turn, made every other studio greenlight as many superhero films as they could, which in turn finally led to Tim Miller’s live action directorial debut with Deadpool. You have to love the symmetry.