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
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
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