In their Marvel recently had one of their top-secret editorial retreats, where writers and editors plot out the upcoming fate of the Marvel Universe. Past retreats have developed the “Age of Ultron,” “Civil War” and “Winter Soldier” storylines — all of which were later adapted into Marvel movies.
While the meetings are normally completely off-limits to anyone not writing or editing a Marvel comics, this year a reporter for the Daily News was invited to observe the event. This year, the major story-arc being discussed was the upcoming “Civil War II,” a sequel to 2007’s blockbuster comics storyline that pitted hero against hero, in a parable of civil liberties vs. national security.
“You want it to be The Godfather, Part II,’but for every Godfather II, there’s a Godfather III,” Marvel publisher Dan Buckley tells The Daily News reporter.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis and editor-in-chief Axel Alonso outline the premise.
“A mysterious new Marvel character comes to the attention of the world, one who has the power to calculate the outcome of future events with a high degree of accuracy,” according to the synopsis. “This predictive power divides the Marvel heroes on how best to capitalize on this aggregated information, with Captain Marvel leading the charge to profile future crimes and attacks before they occur, and Iron Man adopting the position that the punishment cannot come before the crime.”
As the story unfolds the new oracle predicts that Marvel hero will be the cause of a major incident of destruction in three days, forcing the other heroes to make a tough decision. Bendis just hasn’t figured out how bad the destruction will be.
“It has to fall somewhere between Hitler and self-defense,” he says.
Bendis consistently refereed to the doomed hero as “Peter Parker,” but Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott isn’t worried, “By the end of afternoon, it won’t be Peter Parker,” he predicts.
Other candidates are suggested and dismissed. The Human Torch is rejected because he burns people to death and “that’s so horrible to illustrate.”
Writer James Robinson suggests, “What if the pressure causes (the hero) to commit suicide?” as a way to tackle the issue of cyber-bullying, before editor Tom Brevoort shoots that idea down. “I don;t think you’d want a Marvel super hero committing suicide,” he comments.
Bendis and Alonso actually have a “Eureka moment” during a break and share with the room a great idea for a hero to be sacrificed and an even more shocking hero to murder him or her.
The idea got a standing ovation from the other writers and editors, who immediately begin suggesting ways to tweak and enhance the story. The “next big thing” in the Marvel is on its way.
“It’s a black magic alchemy of putting the right people in the room,” says Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada. “Those of us who work here are creative trust fund babies, because we have inherited an incredible chest full of toys that we get to play with. It does end up being like a bunch of kids in a room throwing s— against the wall.”
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