Transmedia Entertainment & Marketing

IBCoM: CM2052

The implementation of Transmedia Storytelling by Marvel Comics

By Armen Gevorkian 335464

Marvel Publishing Inc. Is one of few publishing companies specialized in comics that has inflicted a huge impact on the world by creating characters such as ‘Iron-Man’ and ‘Spider-Man’ sine the year 1939. The characters made by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and others are still used today in big Hollywood motion pictures produced by Marvels own studio. Henry Jenkins sees that, “Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” (Jenkins, 2007) Looking at Marvel’s homepage it is involved horizontally over a few segments in the media business, it being comics, movies, TV, games, background info on their characters, apps, and a huge fan forum for their followers. This proves that Marvel is displaying horizontal integration of the world of their initially comic based characters into several forms of storytelling.

Scholari who fortifies Jenkins standpoint on Transmedia storytelling mentions that Transmedia storytelling in the sense of a franchise such as Marvel can be seen as, “a story might be introduced in a film, expanded through television, novels, and comics, and its world might be explored and experienced through game play. Each franchise entry needs to be self-contained enough to enable autonomous consumption. That is, you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy the game and vice-versa.”(Scholari, 2009) This is exactly what marvel follows in a traditional manner, the order is different but in the case of Transmedia not relevant.

The history of Marvel shows that most materials they posted that was relevant to the characters comics and different occasions that these characters appeared in different issues or stories proves a form of disjointed Transmedial behavior in the franchise. This has dramatically changed in the past couple of years, especially when looking at the relationship between movies and comics. The recent reboot of motion pictures involving marvels main superheroes shows the improvement in Marvel’s Transmedia usage, where movies such as ‘The incredible Hulk’, ‘Iron-Man’ and ‘Thor’ are somewhat intertwined with cameos and other storytelling devices, these hint at the characters living on screen in the same fictional world and coming together in Marvel’s most recent production ‘The Avengers’. This idea put forth by henry Jenkins of Transmedia storytelling has been implemented by Marvel as a blueprint to converge their fictional world through multiple mediums. Marvel expands storyboards, through small out cuts of what’s to come in movie theaters and television but most significantly one sees the shift in gaming where the storyline is inflated through one finding himself controlling the superhero of his choice.

Marvel Worldwide Entertainment was acquired by The Walt Disney Company for 4.24$ Billion in 2009 and has attempted to expand its comic division in 2010 by launching an initiative to revive comics, unfortunately this has been closed down after one year seeing that the dying canon of comics is not applicable in our contemporary digitalized world. The prior statement leads to this concluding phrase, “in a technologically savvy culture Transmedia storytelling is becoming the norm rather then the exception.”(Toschi, 2009) The movie ‘Spider-man’ hit the box office a total of 62$ million, ‘The incredible Hulk’ with 55$ million, ‘Thor’ with 65$ million, ‘Iron-Man’ with staggering 98$ million and ‘The Avengers’ with an amazing 207$ million (Boxofficemojo.com).

The success of Marvel movies and its horizontally adapted mediums is unprecedented due to its new initiative to intertwine their comics into massive motion picture productions, the downturn in comic book sales and closure of whole departments forced Marvel to adapt the idea that Henry Jenkins put forth, thus pushing forward to reach a wide array of audiences through multiple mediums. This proves that Transmedia storytelling is becoming the tool of success for fictional media storytelling.

Watch the Marvel Studio’s trailer for ‘The Avengers’, this should give you a feel of Marvel made of its comics! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOrNdBpGMv8

Academic References:

H. Jenkins, 2007, Transmedia Storytelling 101

A. Toschi, 2009, The Entertainment Revolution: Does Transmedia Storytelling Really Enhance the Audience Experience?, California State University Fullerton

C. Alberto Scholari, 2009, Transmedia Storytelling: Implicit Consumers, Narrative Worlds, and Branding in Contemporary Media, University of Vic Catalunya, Spain

Non-Academic References:

Marvel Wikipedia Page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Comics#cite_note-0

Marvel Website, www.marvel.com

Box Office Mojo.com for Box office stats: www.boxofficemojo.com

15 comments on “The implementation of Transmedia Storytelling by Marvel Comics

  1. Lyza Sebaihi
    September 20, 2012

    I really think this is a good example of the implementations. First of all we know the important super heroes and as stated when playing a spiderman game for instance you would not get ‘lost’ if you have not seen every episode. What I think is also very important in the case of Marvel, is that a lot of us grew up with the comics or tv shows of Spiderman, X-men etcetera and makes us curious when a movie comes out several years later (the avengers for example).
    Furthermore I also agree with the fact that transmedia is becoming the tool of success for fictional media story telling, it does not only apply for Marvel but also for stories like Pokémon as explained in a previous blogpost, involving horizontally from cartoons to an actual ‘pokedex’

  2. Karim Rabbani
    September 20, 2012

    I agree that this is a very good example of a Transmedia franchise. What I find good about the example of Marvel is that it clearly shows the evolving story that is required for it to be a transmedia franchise. The superhero stories are still being produced and are very original, keeping it very exciting for the fans (for example the new movie the Avengers). It also shows the in-depth content that is required for it to be a Transmedia franchise by telling the story of every superhero separately with deep content and later combining the stories.

  3. Jean Paul Levier
    September 20, 2012

    This is one of the best examples of a transmedia campaign. I agree with what my colleagues above mentioned, but I wanted to praise Marvel for creating such a hype around all the different characters and stories. Recently, The Avengers (movie) came out and was one of the best action movies I have seen in a while. Marvel began a long time ago by creating these comic stories and only decades later they were able to make them into movies. By presenting these ideas via various mediums, viewers are continuously engaged with the storyline and thus become more involved in the story. Little by little people learn more and more about Marvels characters.

  4. Wally Ahmady
    September 20, 2012

    I largely agree with Lyza on this matter. Marvel is indeed a great example when it comes to transmedia franchises. However, I do think Marvel is maybe a bit too broad and one could be more specific. If you take, for example Spiderman, you already have loads of media products. Furthermore, picking a specific comic would also mean that clearer overall narrative as Marvel itself doesn’t have a clear, uniform storyline, although most of the comics are about superheroes. Other than that, still a great explanation of a transmedia franchise through comics!

  5. Arnold Yu
    September 20, 2012

    What makes me think Marvel is really a good example of transmedia marketing is the difference between comics and movies. Most of the movies of Marvel’s superheroes only refer partly to the comics, where the content of comics is always considered as a background of the superheroes. And different director offers something different to the same superhero, broadening the perspective for the fans to understand that particular superhero. For instance, the Spiderman under Sam Raimi (director of Spider-man, Spider-man 2 and Spider-man 3) and the Spiderman under Marc Webb (director of The Amazing Spider-man) are already two different Spider-man, although both of them shares some common criteria which covers in the comics. In this way, fans of Marvel like me can explore more about the world of Marvel by watching Marvel’s movies by different directors. And each film adds a little bit more to my knowledge about Marvel.

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This entry was posted on September 19, 2012 by .
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