April 19, 2016
The book “Marvel Comics into Film: Essays on Adaptions Since the 1940s,” edited by Texas Tech University faculty members Robert Peaslee, Matthew McEniry and Robert Weiner, is now available for purchase.
Peaslee, chairman of the Department of Journalism & Electronic Media in the College of Media & Communication, said the book was the result of trying to trace the early development of what has become the “Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
“This book came out of a fascination with the rise of Marvel Studios as a filmmaking force in American cinema, something one takes for granted today, but for decades prior to the late 2000s was more or less unimaginable,” Peaslee said.
McEniry, an assistant metadata librarian at Texas Tech, said the project that launched the book began in September 2014 and, when the editors submitted the draft, it was a total of 570 pages.
“The volume itself is a unique look into the historical machinations of what worked and what failed before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with 2008’s Iron Man,” McEniry said. “While some modern films appear in the chapters, most are focused on what has transpired between the 1940s and early 2000s in film, television and other Marvel-themed media.”
Weiner, a popular culture/humanities librarian at Texas Tech, called the Marvel Universe “one of the most vast and complicated networks in the history of graphic narrative storytelling,” and he said with more than 3,000 characters to work with, it is natural many of them would have film iterations.
“We included essays on animated films such as the Japanese Tomb of Dracula, Black Panther, Ultimate Avengers and Planet Hulk,” Weiner said. “In addition, we have essays on films that were licensed properties at the time the films were made during the 1980s like ‘Conan,’ ‘Transformers,’ ‘My Little Pony’ and ‘G.I. Joe.’”
Peaslee noted most of the book explores lesser-known Marvel properties, their adaptation into feature film properties, their relationship to the television industry and the way their histories underpin the phenomenon they have become today.
“We hope the book provides useful perspective on the Marvel Cinematic Universe as something long in gestation, a product of countless fits and starts, and as a network of international affiliations and relationships that go back to the earliest days of the superhero phenomenon,” Peaslee said.
McEniry said the intent of the editors was to create a book that gives the most historical context of Marvel productions and includes international influences, balanced by enough theory to keep it interesting.
“If you’ve always wanted to know more about the Japanese and Toei influence on Marvel, the rock-and-roll adventure in ‘Transformers: the Movie’ (1988), critical and post feminism commentary of the superheroine Elektra, Captain America’s journey to the silver screen, or why ‘Howard the Duck’ (1986) was a really bad movie, then this book has something in it that will be sure to grab your attention,” McEniry said.
Weiner said he has had the idea for the book for years and hopes readers can appreciate how much Marvel has grown and changed over the years and how that change relates to society.
“We hope readers will come away with a greater understanding of how sequential art characters are translated to film throughout history and come away with just how important these characters are to the collective consciousness of our global society,” Weiner said.
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