Last night, in lieu of an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC presented a special, Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop! in celebration of Marvel Comics’ 75th anniversary. The cynic in me noted that the special was really a 30 minute infomercial for upcoming Marvel television shows and movies (with commercials for Disneyland, ABC television shows and other products associated with Marvel’s parent company Disney). Still, I thought the special was pretty informative, especially for people unfamiliar with Marvel’s early years (as Timely Comics around World War II, and during the “superhero revival” of the 1960s). I had a good laugh when (Poprockingculture contributor) Blue Striker mentioned that the young Stan Lee resembled Bill Everett’s 1940s version of the Sub-Mariner.
It was great to see some of the faces behind the names of people who worked on comics when I actively read them during the 1970s and 1980s, such as Denny O’Neil (DC’s Green Lantern/Green Arrow) and Steve Englehart (Doctor Strange and The Defenders). I would have loved to see Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spiderman and Doctor Strange) in the special. However, despite the fact that the interviewees mentioned Ditko’s name numerous times, the notoriously reclusive creator continued his 40-plus year “no interview” streak.
It was interesting (but not surprising) that the special skipped over recent Marvel movies not produced by Marvel Entertainment. I found the special’s attitude towards these films rather dismissive and in the same light as earlier attempts at cartoons and television shows during the 1960s through the 1980s. (Stan Lee did have something good to say about the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk, however.) I guess that given the success of the non-Marvel Entertainment properties, including the Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire Spiderman series (produced by Sony Pictures), the X-Men series and the (less successful) Fantastic Four movies (both 20th Century Fox); one wonders what the special could say.
The special also highlighted the cultural changes that have influenced Marvel Comics, such as Vietnam War and the women’s rights and civil rights movements. Of course, there was a mention of the Black Panther, ostensibly because of the 2015 movie starring Chadwick Boseman. I would have liked more diversity in the interviewees who work for Marvel in the present day (because there wasn’t any years ago). But that’s a topic for another post…
Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop! was a good diversion from: 1) waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding plot developments in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and 2) the tedious midterm election result coverage (although I did vote).
Lynne, a.k.a. Poprocker1