In Part 2 of CBR's chat with Joe Quesada at Comic-Con International: San Diego, the Marvel Chief Creative Officer discussed the influence of the company's publishing on its future film and TV adaptations, the success of characters like Ms. Marvel since his departure as editor-in-chief, his initial pitch for "Guardians of the Galaxy," and more.
On Marvel's evolution since he left the publishing sphere, Quesada told CBR's Albert Ching, "I think what sticks out to me is the audience's willingness and desire to accept different versions of our characters, or characters that generally were never successful, now being successful. And Squirrel Girl is a perfect example of this, folks have embraced her."
He continued, "And I think that's a really interesting thing to see happening. During my tenure, and even before my tenure, it was a very difficult door to breakthrough. And as much as we pushed, certain offbeat ideas would have a lot of trouble sustaining. But now it seems like the readership, because it's growing and there are more women reading comics, and we're bringing in a lot of different people that are interested in comics through the movies and television...I think that audience growing in that sense, and the diversity of that audience is helping us to launch new ideas and new concepts, or revive new ideas and new concepts, or twist old concepts into something new that works."
Quesada explained that the comics division heavily impacts future film/TV plans, comparing the division to the "hub" of Marvel's "wheel," and the adaptations to the "spokes" of that wheel.
"I tell this to these people in particular -- [not] those who live in this world of comics and understand it, those who understand that when Cap says "Hail Hydra" you should wait til the second issue before you lose your mind -- for the uninitiated, I always say, if you come to Marvel, through either our animation, our television shows, our movies, our video games, however it may be, if you haven't come through the comics and you want to know what's happening in this world, comics are the hub of the wheel. If Marvel is a wheel, comics are the hub and everything else spokes out. Movies, TV...they're all spokes of the wheel. If you want to know what the future is, in the movies, television, video games, animation -- pick up the comics, because there's a very good possibility that the stuff you're reading today will eventually find itself -- or a version of it -- in one of our media outlets. Could be next year, four, five years from now, maybe ten years from now."
Driving the point home, Quesada used "Civil War" as a prime example. "If you look at the stuff we're producing in studios right now -- Civil War, right? Civil War was 10 year ago, and here we are, it's this huge movie. It's the same thing in our television division -- Jessica Jones was a comic, and that was more than ten years ago. So who knows where Squirrel Girl will end up. That, to me, is the incredible richness and beauty of comics -- we can be so wildly creative. At the end of the day, if it fails as a company, a publishing division, you lose thousands of dollars. If this is a television show, you're losing millions of dollars."
Quesada went on to say fans are a major part of the litmus test. While Ms. Marvel might not have taken off 10 years ago, today, it can be a massively successful among readers -- to the extent that Quesada says there are definite plans to use Kamala Khan in future film/TV adaptations.
"Our readers are the Johnny Appleseeds. They tell us something is resonating, something is hitting a core, and that's something we should try to cultivate. Another great example of this: Ms. Marvel. If we had put this book out ten years ago, it probably would never have succeeded. Not only did we find the audience, but we had the right people on the book and we had the right editor on the book, the right creators on the book. And now we have a character that's very recognizable -- very, very quickly. That doesn't happen a lot. Who knows where Ms. Marvel's going to end up. You can be sure that, somewhere down the road, she will be a part of the future of Marvel in other media."
Quesada reflected on his pitch for "Guardians of the Galaxy": "I remember having this phone call, right around the time that we became a part of Disney and we were talking about the movie slate. 'Well what do you have after the Avengers?' [I said] 'Well, we have this thing called Guardians of the Galaxy. It has a talking raccoon and a tree. Trust us, it's going to be great.' And then we went into the pitch, and they immediately got it. That's how these thing happen -- that's the beauty of publishing -- you can strike gold, and sometimes, even if the audience doesn't see it right away, internally we feel it. 'Okay, there's really something here, so let's try to build on that.'"
Stay tuned this week for Part 3 of CBR's conversation with Quesada.