It's always a good sign when you're told ahead of time that what you're about to see is "historic," and Marvel's Friday morning Your Universe panel really did offer fans a first - The chance for them to grill the people in charge of Marvel's comic books, movies and cartoons about everything that makes them happy, mad and somewhere in between. Who won't be playing Captain America, and does the devil exist? Find out under the jump.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of fans had a lot of questions about the upcoming Marvel movies, but answers weren't always forthcoming; when asked for a hint as to who will play Captain America in the upcoming The First Avenger movie, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased the audience with "You guys want to see Ben Affleck play Captain America?" only to be faced with a room full of boos. More seriously, he replied, "We've had ideas, there've been discussions, but we're going to hire filmmakers before we start making those decisions. But I guess it won't be Ben Affleck."
Will the success of the movies mean that Marvel's publishing operations will move to the West Coast? Joe Quesada isn't sure:
I never gave it any thought, I don't know. There are so many people key to us in publishing... to relocate several hundred people, you'd probably end up losing lots of key people. But the weather's nice out here, so you never know?
Marvel's publishing president Dan Buckley:
I'm not saying anything's impossible, but I don't think it's just an operational or business decision, but it would affect the books, New York is such a character in our books.
In a less physical sense, will future movies stay as close to their comic sources as Iron Man? Kevin Feige says yes, kind of:
We always try to stay true to the comics, but we do make changes. I mean, Obidiah Stane didn't work for Stark Enterprises in the comic books. We try to stay true to the core aspects of each character.
On a similar note, Carla Hoffman, a Southern Californian retailer, asked why none of the Hulk comics out at the time of the release of The Incredible Hulk seemed to reflect what people could see in the film. Joe Quesada admitted that that had maybe been a misstep:
If you look at our track record, we normally do a good job of that. We can't bat a 1000 all the time.
Dan Buckley was less forgiving:
With Iron Man, we didn't have to change a lot with what we were already doing, and we thank Matt [Fraction, writer of The Invincible Iron Man] for that. With the Hulk, we've been publishing that kind of story for years and years, so we'd point people back to the trade paperbacks for that... We don't want to get to the point where we're corporately dictating to people what they're writing.
Did The Incredible Hulk movie live up to expectations? Feige:
It did, it absolutely did. We were very pleased with the response. We always said that if it made one dollar more than the last one did, it would be a success, and it made more than one dollar more. The Hulk will return.
Will he return in the Avengers? And, more importantly, who else will show up in The Avengers movie? Feige wasn't sharing:
We have [all the cast lined up], and you'll see them pop up together. That's the idea.
Could anyone confirm Jon Favreau was definitely working on Iron Man 2? Feige:
I can't comment on that. But it comes to, do we want fans back for Iron Man 2? There'll be an announcement soon.
On the comic side on things, apparently suggesting that Spider-Man made a deal with the Devil to retcon his marriage away in One More Day isn't something that makes people at Marvel happy. When a fan brought up the subject, Dan Buckley interrupted:
I think it's unfair to burden this all on Joe. I think it was incredibly brave of Joe to [draw it]. First of all, that story's not over... The consequences of happiness versus unhappiness haven't been dealt with. He didn't do a deal with the devil, [Mephisto] isn't the devil, he's a supervillain in the Marvel Universe.
Joe Quesada disagreed:
Go back and reread One More Day and tell me who made the deal with the Devil. Peter didn't make the deal with the Devil, Mary Jane did. This was a story that we HAD to do to get Peter to a particular place. The idea of a Faustian pact... This is a classic part of literature. I think it's great to bring up a conversation, if you have a 5 year old, it brings up a great conversation. They're all morality plays that bring up different ideas for you to deal with as you raise a child. I think it's a matter on how you deal with it.
For people looking forward to the upcoming Wolverine And The X-Men cartoon, producer Craig Kyle was happy to talk it up:
It's 21 episodes of continuity and five specials. The pay-off lasts four episodes, it's a really, really big show. I'm very proud of the show, it works the only way the X-Men works: Like the comic book. My plan was to kick the hell out of [the '90s cartoon].
The last question of the panel also proved to be the biggest surprise to the audience; asked if the Thor movie would play up the Norse God aspects of the character more than the superhero trappings, Kevin Feige said that, well, Thor isn't actually a god at all: He and all the other citizens of Asgard are actually just interdimensional beings. So now you know: According to Marvel, neither gods nor devils are anything more than interdimensional beings in supervillain outfits. I expect the new Mighty Marvel Age of Revised Aethiestic Morality to overwhelm America immediately.