Joanna Robinson Unmasks Marvel’s Superhero Business | Episode #926 of Six Pixels of Separation

 Joanna (00:00.078)

Thanks for watching!

Mitch Joel (00:02.768)
It's funny, I used to do it. I used to do with River with I also had a road caster, which I don't have here. I have it in my other studio. So that would be my backup, but we're fine. Okay. So who are you and what do you do?

Joanna (00:17.26)
My name is Rowena Robinson. I am a podcaster and an author. My upcoming book is MCU, the reign of Marvel Studios.

Mitch Joel (00:24.856)
Okay, actually, I'm going to stop you. We're going to do that again, only because if you can keep it timeless, that would be helpful. My new book MCU versus it's coming out came out last week, just because I don't know what I'm writing this. Sorry, we'll do one more take. So who are you and what do you do?

Joanna (00:32.714)
Roger. Absolute noise.

My name is Joanna Robinson. I'm a podcaster, and I'm the author of MCU, The Reign of Marvel Studios.

Mitch Joel (00:44.041)
Oh, I'm so excited you're here, Joanna.

Joanna (00:46.066)
I'm thrilled to be here.

Mitch Joel (00:47.824)
You have no idea. I've been running this, I think is the longest running business podcast in the world. I run it every single Sunday. And now my worlds of business and nerdism and comic book collecting get to come clash together. And people might think that they're a comic book nerd, but unless you have a Wednesday pull list, I don't consider you in the tent, as we say the business.

Joanna (01:08.253)
What's your local? What's your local shop?

Mitch Joel (01:10.448)
We have a great one here. It's called Capy 10 Quebec. I'm based in Montreal and they are also the owners of the Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and some other Comic-Cons as well. So they're super active in the community, great people. Yeah, and it's changed owners over the years, but I was there back when they opened in 82 or 83. Now I had a long gap where I wasn't going regularly, but COVID snapped me back into this hobby. I'll tell you that much, Joanna.

Joanna (01:19.382)
Oh nice, very nice. So they know what they're doing. They know what they're doing.

Joanna (01:36.711)
Welcome back. Welcome back.

Mitch Joel (01:38.712)
And have you been a comic book reader, collector at all, or more interested in just what's happening in the cinematic side of this?

Joanna (01:45.374)
I wouldn't say collector would be inaccurate. I've never put something in a sleeve, but I would say in my, I was late to it, but I would say in my mid-20s is when I started reading comic books just because all of my friends did, it aligned with everything else I was sort of nerdy about, but I never, there was something about the medium of comics that I just wasn't able to get into, and then finally someone put the right comic in front of me, and I got sucked in, and then the rest of it is history. And so yeah, we,

I live in the East Bay in California and we've got Cape and Cowell here in Oakland. And then also where I grew up, which is Marin County across the bridge, Blue Moon Comics in San Rafael. And I just love a local comic shop. And I love, you know, to your point about the polis, like putting yourself in the hands of your local comic book guys and gals and having them just guide you where to go. It's a great feeling. I love it.

Mitch Joel (02:40.881)
So what was the book or title that was put in front of you?

Joanna (02:44.37)
It was Sandman, Neil Gaiman's Sandman. That was my gateway.

Mitch Joel (02:46.844)
Oh, well, that's yeah, I'm a big Neil. I mean, yeah, I mean, Neil Gaiman can be a gateway to many things. I think if you're not interested in fiction reading, it can be a gateway for not interested in science fiction or fantasy, he can be a gateway. So that's a good gateway to have for sure. So let's talk a little bit about what this book is. You co wrote it with two authors, it really is an exploration of what's happening in the MCU, which is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Joanna (02:53.098)

Joanna (03:04.558)

Mitch Joel (03:13.616)
But there's been a lot of people that have talked about these characters, about the impact of it on culture. What is it about this moment in time where you and your coauthors thought there's something bigger here that we need to share?

Joanna (03:25.898)
Yeah, you know, I think there have been plenty of sort of piecemeal coverage, but we really felt like there hadn't been anything that covered the whole thing soup to nuts in a way that we really wanted to see it covered. We started this project back in 2019 when Endgame came out and Endgame was such this global phenomena. And I'm not just you know, I'm a I'm a comic book fan. I'm a genre fan, but I'm also a Hollywood history fan.

I'm a fan. And so the phenomena of the MCU, for better or for worse, depending on who you ask, in Hollywood is a massive Hollywood story. And so as someone who loves reading books, nonfiction books about Hollywood history, I was like, I would love to see what, what is this chapter? And so the book takes you from

I mean, it really starts in the 90s with the bankruptcy of Marvel, essentially, and the struggles for control there. But it takes you from the foundation of Marvel Studios with the debut of Iron Man 2008 up through 2023, which is just happens to be sort of when we finish the book. But it actually wound up being a really interesting time to finish because the conversation around what is happening with the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now in 2023 is so different.

from the conversation that was happening around 2019 when they were completely ascendant, you know, world dominating, everyone saw Endgame, not just once, but multiple times in the theaters. And so to have tracked through COVID, we spent a lot of COVID writing this book, these last five years of Marvel Studios has been very fascinating. But yeah, we just didn't feel like this book existed and as nerds and fans and...

Studies of culture, we wanted it to exist because we wanted to read it. My coauthors are Dave Gonzalez and Gavin Edwards, and they both have even stronger comic book pedigree than I do. And it was just a joy to spend these years talking to hundreds of people about this thing that just has a, you know, a stranglehold if you're a critic or just like wrapped you up in a hug if you're a fan over filmmaking for over a decade. So yeah.

Mitch Joel (05:42.948)
Yeah, it's a very polarizing moment in time to talk about Marvel, and we'll get to that. But I am really curious about culturally how we got here, in the sense of when I think about growing up, comic books were not things we told other people we did, much in the same way Dungeons and Dragons is suddenly cool. Trust me, when I was playing Dungeons and Dragons, it was the thing that got you close to murdered. It's a strange thing, even when I think about

Joanna (06:01.292)


Mitch Joel (06:12.928)
superheroes and TV and cinema and how some of it is extremely hokey or campy. You could think about the original Batman TV show. You could think about things like the Superman movie and even the evolution of Marvel trying through the years. Do you understand that all this pivot point where suddenly this became not only blockbuster big business, but cool?

Joanna (06:16.417)

Joanna (06:24.918)

Joanna (06:37.87)
Yeah, this is my, I have a personal theory about this, about genre storytelling in general, because, you know, even more so than the MCU, I sort of built my career talking about culture around the TV series Game of Thrones. That was sort of how I came up in this world. And so I've been thinking for years about.

What, what was the moment? Why a game of Thrones? You know, why Lord of the Rings when it came out? Why Harry Potter when it came out? Because that was like a real shift. I was a teenager in the nineties and you know, I wasn't ever shoved in a locker for playing D and D, but yeah, you kept your sort of like fantasy tendencies to yourself and among your friendly friends, and it wasn't something you, everyone was watching or talking about. And I, this is a fairly American centric.

point of view I've been told and I agree. So forgive me for it on this non-American podcast. But the fact that, and not to bring the tone down, but September 11th happens and one month after September 11th is when Fellowship of the Ring and the first Harry Potter movies come out. And that timing...

is just stuck in my brain somehow as a moment in time when at least Americans and then perhaps because Hollywood is in America, like, you know, we forced on everyone else as classic us like needed that uplift and escapism more than ever before. Harry Potter books were already a thing, but the fact that Lord of the Rings hit the way that it did, you know, was.

astonishing. And then because Lord of the Rings is such a success, that's why you get something like Game of Thrones. And because Game of Thrones is such a success, all of those, you know, the Rising Tide, you know, raises all boats. Christopher Nolan's Batman, the Spider-Man movies are hugely impacted by 9-11. Christopher Nolan's Batman are like, you know, so not to make that the end all be all, but, you know, it did shift something in the public consciousness in our psyche, I think, for this thirst for

Joanna (08:37.226)
heroism, escapism, big scale threats that we felt someone could manage for us and make us feel safe through, even when like at various times our own government wasn't unable to do that. And so I think, I don't know, that's my theory. What do you make, what do you make my very American centric theory here?

Mitch Joel (08:57.2)
Well, one is the show goes everywhere. I think our largest audience is in the States. And when people meet me, they're troubled by the fact that I'm Canadian. I give off a very American vibe. So I spent most of my professional life working in the States. So there might be some bias there for me as well. I reflect on it and wonder if they weren't trying to find the most direct path to figuring out how to crack the Star Wars code in one way or another.

Joanna (09:13.965)

Joanna (09:25.674)
That's definitely part of it. Yeah.

Mitch Joel (09:25.892)
What would be the way to build a franchise at global scale that transcends just the film and hits obviously things like toys, but again, that adult and child mixed component, it's a really hard thing to nail. And I feel like perhaps they thought superheroes are somewhat embedded in the fabric, whether we know them or not, they're recognizable identities, logos, brands.

Joanna (09:54.047)

Mitch Joel (09:54.192)
and that there might be something there of the quickest path to trying to figure out how to either be competitive or something like Star Wars.

Joanna (10:02.814)
Certainly on a business scale, and this is a business plot, so where else to talk about it, when Disney goes to acquire Marvel, that is certainly something that they have in mind, right? Because they're trying to build up, I know you know this, but they're trying to, they've cornered the market on Disney princesses, they have Pixar, that worked out pretty well for them. So they're in buy, buy mode, they buy Lucasfilm and they buy Marvel in the hopes to broaden the quadrants that they are dominant in. And so I think it's absolutely dead on to say that

that idea of franchising, everyone's chasing the sort of Star Wars dragon there.

Mitch Joel (10:38.824)
For those who don't know, we're gonna bounce around a lot because I'm worried about the curse of knowledge we both possess in this. And I'm trying to be sensitive to an audience that may not know this, but Disney buys Marvel, Disney buys Star Wars, very different acquisition deals. Very, very different. Let's talk a little bit about where was Marvel at? What was this acquisition that they feel there was an undervalue in how these personalities and characters were being used?

Joanna (10:43.938)
Ha ha ha, fair. Ha ha

Mitch Joel (11:08.836)
Was it on its heels at that point? What's happening in the Disney mindset that you think made Marvel such a viable target for them?

Joanna (11:15.834)
Oh, for Disney, I really do think, I mean, I don't think that Disney was on the backfoot at all. A lot of this is, as you know, oh, sorry, Marvel. No, they were ascendant. Marvel was ascendant. Marvel was very strong and it was up, up for them. The they had made this.

Mitch Joel (11:20.644)
No, Marvel. I'm saying Marvel might have been on the... Yeah.

Joanna (11:32.118)
back in their inception, the Marvel Studios inception story is so fascinating from a business point of view because it hinges on this incredible deal they made with Merrill Lynch in order to fund the founding of the studio. Because yes, you think Marvel, you're like, this is a big brand, they've got tons of money. Of course, if they wanna open up their own movie studio, you know, in the mid aughts, of course they'll throw a bunch of money at that and do that.

That was not the case. First of all, as I already alluded to, there was this big bankruptcy situation in the 90s. So Marvel and comics and the comic book, the health of the comic book industry in general, wasn't as solid as you might think it was at the time. And the head of Marvel at the time, the hero if you look at the bankruptcy story, and then the villain maybe later on is this figure named Ike Promutter. And Ike

mysterious sort of shadowy figure in the world of business. And he comes to Marvel when he rescues Marvel from bankruptcy. That's a whole long story. If you want to know more about it, you can read about it in the book. He comes to it understandably with the mind of, we're in save, save mode. We're not in spend, spend mode. You know, we got to conserve our resources. And so part of an idea they had to make money,

is to sell their characters off to various studios to license them out to make movies. So that's how you get Sony has ownership of Spider-Man, Fox has ownership of the X-Men. You know, they're just raffling these characters, their biggest characters, by the way, out the door. And then at a certain point, you know, they're making some money out of that. And you mentioned toys from a toyetic point of view. Ike Promotor was a toy guy. He ran Toy Biz before he ran Marvel. He's always thinking about

toys. And so one inciting incident for the shift to Marvel making its own movies had to do with the release of Fox's X-Men. Fox decides to release X-Men before the toys are ready. And, you know, Marvel's like, Oh, no, our toy licensing. That was where a lot of our money was coming from. And so there's another figure worth mentioning in this whole history of the business, which is David Maisel. And David Maisel

Joanna (13:47.886)
comes to Ike Perlmutter at a lunch in Mar-a-Lago, Trump is there because Ike Perlmutter is pal of Trump's, with pals of Trump, and David comes with this idea of, what if we make our own movies? What if we make our own studio, make our own movies, and you don't have to spend any money on this Ike? Ike was like, I don't want to spend any money, and David's like, okay, we'll figure out how to do it without you having to spend any money on this. And that's when David and a few other people put together this Merrill Lynch deal.

where this is just boggles the mind. They go to the bank and they say, you can have these characters if we don't make the money back that we owe you in the first, I think it's three at bats that they had three movies that we're gonna make. Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, just like all these icons that we think of now, Thor. You can have all these characters if we don't.

take the money you're about to lend us and make sure fire hits out of them and pay you back. So that's what they gambled. And the incredible magic trick that David and the other people who put this deal together pulled is that they had to convince Merrill Lynch that all these characters, and you should know at the time, Iron Man, I know you know, but Iron Man was not a big deal at the time. None of these characters. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

Mitch Joel (15:06.816)
No, none of these were no, this is the crate. The craziest part of this story is the fact that you're talking about giving rights to let's call it a multi portfolio brand business. But your two biggest portfolios in that are already off the table. And there are multiple of where any of these other brands are namely you mentioned Spider-Man and the X-Men. It is one of the craziest deals

Joanna (15:31.958)
And Hulk, Hulk is also gone. Yeah. Universal, yeah. Yeah.

Mitch Joel (15:34.192)
Hulk is also gone. That's right. Hulk is with Fox, I believe, right? Universal. I mean, it's astounding to think because there is, yeah, if you know anything about that world pre the popularity of these movies, these characters were, you know, secondary. They were known, no names, but definitely not the type of Hulk, X-Men and Spider-Man. And the deal still happens.

Joanna (15:57.746)
If you look at what I love is if you look at the headlines at the time when they launched the MCU with Iron Man and then Captain America and then Thor is all, you know, all the trades, the Hollywood trades were like, oh, Marvel is gonna do its best with the B-list. Oh, here are these like bench warmers that they're gonna try to put in the game. Iron Man, who's ever heard of Iron Man? So what the people putting the Merrill Lynch deal had to, the magistrate they had to pull was convince Merrill Lynch to your point that these characters were worth

Mitch Joel (16:12.13)
Yeah, for sure.

Joanna (16:27.97)
the money Merrill Lynch was gonna give them, right? Okay, we don't have Spider-Man, we don't have it, but have you? Iron Man, he has got rockets in his hands, you know? And the same time, they had to convince Marvel, the people putting this deal together, had to convince Marvel, you're not risking that much. Don't worry if you lose Iron Man or Captain America or whatever. They're the B-list, don't worry about it. So undervalue the characters to Marvel, overvalue them if, turns out not, but you know, theoretically overvalue them to Merrill Lynch.

Then they go make Iron Man. Iron Man's a huge smash hole hit. They pay off, you know, they pay off the deal right away. Right. So Iron Man's a huge hit. Hulk, you know, your mileage may vary, but it's still made a ton of money. You know, it's, it's not their most popular film, but you know. Yeah. Um, Iron Man two huge success. Captain America is happening. Thor is happening. Just we're going up and up and up. And so when Disney gets into the mix, which is right around then

Mitch Joel (17:10.192)
Yeah, the movies were great. The first movie was great. Yeah.

Joanna (17:25.85)
it's not they're saving Marvel from anything. It's that Marvel's like, okay, all we're missing really is distribution. We don't really have distribution. We can make our own films, but we can't distribute them. And so, you know, Universal is their distributing partner with Hulk because that, Universal still owns Hulk. It's a complicated little co-production there. That's why you haven't seen a Hulk starring film since, because Universal still technically has the rights to Hulk. And so,

You know, Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, however popular he may be, can only be a co-star, you know, in like Thor Ragnarok. He can't be the lead of his own movie. That might change soon, but that's the current state of the affairs. So Disney comes in and it's a relationship thing because that person I mentioned again, David Maisel, who went to that lunch at Mar-a-Lago, who said, what if we make our own studio? He's the head of the studio at the time. He's got old relationships with people at Disney and he's just sort of like, can we make a deal? And actually.

Disney kind of passed on it a little bit at first and then it all came together. And so, it wasn't necessarily like a sure thing at the beginning, but once they were in, and again, I think it has a lot to do with relationships, as do a lot of these big business deals. And David Maisel is really good with a contract, with an idea, he's a business.

genius. Like, I'm, I, and he's like one of the unsung heroes, I think, of this whole Marvel story in terms of like the contracts and the, and the financing and all of that in the background of this, of the storytelling story, you know?

Mitch Joel (19:04.176)
Yeah, where I was going with it in relation to the Star Wars deal is that as well as the movies were doing at the point of acquisition from Disney, it was still problematic in the sense of they have these printing presses running. And even to this day, there's contention around weekly comic books, they call them floppies versus what moved into the trade space. And there's a lot of business models happening there to try and reinvent it in the digital age. And also the toy business Marvel was traditionally more licensing based.

Joanna (19:23.039)

Mitch Joel (19:32.24)
which again would mean that a lot of the assets you're buying aren't really usable, they're locked up in other deals and while they're generating, it's not generating at the scale of Disney characters and Star Wars characters. It's an interesting place where they had this silver bullet but it wasn't necessarily the entire portfolio.

Joanna (19:33.282)

Joanna (19:44.13)
That... that is...

Joanna (19:49.95)
Yeah, that's absolutely the case. And I think, you know, when Iger closes on the Disney deal, it's really with, you know, yes, there's merchandising possibilities galore. We eventually get theme parks. You know, there's all sorts of things that happen around the Marvel brand as connected to Disney, but I think it's the films that he really had his eye on. And that was such a rapid change in the Marvel company because initially it was just sort of this like, oh, little, you know, you.

Mitch Joel (20:11.045)
Watch the movies.

Joanna (20:18.87)
The business story that runs through this book, which is really fascinating, is the battle between Marvel East Coast and Marvel West Coast. Because Marvel East Coast is the comics, Marvel East Coast is like Perlmutter, Marvel East Coast has a lot of sort of, I mean, I think still traumatized from bankruptcy ideas. And what was happening out in California, Marvel Studios, Marvel West, was at first this little experiment, okay, go do this. And then all of a sudden they become the main source.

of the money and they become the shine on the brand. And Marvel East is now no longer, you know, if you look at the production of Iron, the first Iron Man movie, that was essentially an independent film. Like essentially no one was watching, you know, other than don't spend any money. There was like no rules for Marvel East on that. And then all of a sudden Marvel East is like, oh, everyone's looking at the movies. Oh, that's where all the money's coming from. We want our input on.

We want to have our say in this. We want a part of this. And so that's when you get this battle of wills between what was called the Creative Committee over formed in Marvel East Coast and the studio Marvel West Coast. And that's largely behind the scenes battle, but that is the real sort of superhero showdown of the first decade of the MCU.

Mitch Joel (21:38.472)
And you fast forward to where we are today. It's quite the conundrum, because you talk about it as superhero fatigue. I would have said there's just a general content fatigue. Now this is an interesting place to be, because it's not just movies. People know who watch Netflix or Disney at this point, that a lot of TV shows started coming out, Daredevil, Defenders, on and on and on and on. And I even find myself vacillating

Joanna (21:40.855)

Joanna (21:49.742)

Joanna (22:03.97)

Mitch Joel (22:08.292)
with this one sentiment of being, if you'd pulled aside a 13 year old Mitch and said, there's gonna be a live action Dr. Strange movie or live action X-Men movie, I would have said there's no way and if there was, it'd be can't be and cheesy and no one would care. On the other side, I'm Uber nerd who loves this stuff and I can't even keep up and I lose track of where I am in it.

Joanna (22:17.678)
Huh huh.

Joanna (22:24.932)

Mitch Joel (22:34.48)
Someone will say, oh, did you see Thor Ragnarok? And my reaction is, I don't remember. I don't know if I saw it or not. I mean, this is really problematic from the consumer side, from a business side. How are they reconciling this? You have a big deal, you're trying to make money, streaming is coming in, Disney Plus is being launched. There's a need to keep feeding this beast or chasing the dragon too. What happens in this moment where it's not just the general public that is having this challenge, but the super fans are looking at it going,

Joanna (22:34.901)

Joanna (22:39.28)

Joanna (22:55.688)

Mitch Joel (23:03.676)
I mean, I love that you're doing this, but I don't know what to do with this.

Joanna (23:08.046)
Yeah, I think that's the question of the year for Marvel 2023. Bob Iger, who we were just praising for closing the Marvel deal in the first place, he's the engineer behind the Disney Plus launch and the Disney Plus content.

I don't know, glut is a word that I would use. Um, so I grew on his way out the door at Disney because he was briefly not in charge of Disney and then just came back, right? But on his way out the door, he was going to make sort of his crowning glory, this launch of Disney plus, and we're going to beat Netflix at their own game. Um, Marvel is no longer going to in the same vein as the, as the studios, we're no longer going to let, you know, FX make

Legion and Netflix make Daredevil and ABC make Agents of Shield. We're going to bring all the Marvel television back under the Kevin Feige umbrella and Marvel's Kevin Feige head of Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige umbrella, he's going to and they're all going to start to interconnect with the movies in a way that those Netflix shows that you talked about or the stuff that was on FX or the stuff that was on ABC was not interconnecting before.

All of that also comes around a little bit after Disney acquires Fox also. So when we mentioned that characters like X-Men were over at Fox or Daredevil was also over at Fox, et cetera, all those defenders over, oh no, sorry, let me say that again. Please don't keep that because it makes me look so dumb. Okay. X, thank you for your patience.

Mitch Joel (24:40.509)
Yeah, no, it's fine. Yeah, there's a lot of titles here. Like, like, yeah.

Joanna (24:46.83)
X-Men's over at Fox, and that means a show like Legion on FX, which technically stars on X-Men. Great show, by the way, Legion over on FX. You know, that's all Fox owned. That gets brought under the Marvel umbrella. Marvel makes this deal with Sony for Spider-Man, which we can we can talk about if you like that brings Spider-Man back in under the umbrella. So they've got all those characters that we talked about back in one form or another, all part of this interconnecting tapestry.

that Marvel innovated in the first place, this idea of this interconnected franchise, all of our movies are gonna connect. To your point though, when that was first launched, we were responsible for keeping up with one movie a year and then, oh, it was two movies a year. And then like, okay, maximum three movies a year, but we can keep track of all of that. And we can keep track of that continuity. And then all of a sudden, all the characters are back, all the Spider-Man movies are connected now too, and now we're doing all these Disney Plus shows.

And there are Disney Plus shows that I adore. WandaVision, tremendous, Loki, tremendous. Like these are great shows. And then there are ones that I'm less fond of. But if I want to keep track of all the continuity, I mean, it's also my job to talk about them. That's my day job. That's what I podcast about. But as a fan, if I want to keep track of everything, do I have to watch Secret Invasion? I heard it wasn't very good. Or do I have to watch?

She Hulk, I heard it was kind of good, but the tone isn't really for me. Do I have to watch that in order to understand everything that's going on? And then all of a sudden, what should be to a super fan like yourself, the dream come true of your childhood, like just nonstop delightful entertainment because homework and as a brand, Marvel and Disney by extension, that's the last thing they want is for their like light entertainment to feel like homework for people. And so the question then becomes, do they.

make a change in the future where they, instead of doing the thing that made them famous in the first place, connect everything, do they start to unhook things and disconnect things so you can sort of pick and choose what you want to watch and you don't feel like you're running behind. Oh, I heard, you know, Loki season two was really good. Or I heard Moon Knight. I love Oscar Isaac. Moon Knight seems fun. Moon Knight actually was pretty disconnected. So that was nice. They did a, they did an experiment last year called Werewolf by Night.

Joanna (27:04.178)
on Disney Plus, which was with Michael G. Keno directed, Gael Garcia Bernal. It was just a shorty little Halloween special. I loved it. I adored it. I thought it was one of the best things they've ever done. And it was just a complete, it was like, you know, if you, it's a one shot, you know? It's like a, it's just like a one little thing and it doesn't connect to anything and the pressure's off and you can just watch it and enjoy it and not have to keep track of anything. And that, I think that's their future. I really do. And then now that Eiger's back.

This is the hilarious thing about Bob Iger. Bob Iger, who could not name a successor, like is so incapable of like really finding a successor takeover for him, leaves the keys to Bob Chapick. That does not go well. Bob Iger comes back to Disney, and is like, who turned on the water? Who turned on all these taps of content? Who did this? Bob, it was Iger, it was you before you left, but let's just pretend it's not. And he's like, let's just turn off some of these taps. We're gonna do less.

And we're going to do and everything's going to be all bangers, all killer, no filler. But we're going to do less as if it wasn't Bob Iger's idea in the first place to do more. But that's what he's announced that they're going to do. So so my prescription for Marvel do less, make it all good. That one, what a concept and disconnect a little so that the pressures off of us feeling like we have to watch every single thing in order to know what's going on.

Mitch Joel (28:28.548)
It's such a funny thing to hear you say this, because one of the things I was thinking about is this idea of we're going to interconnect it. And this was also a Kevin Feige idea. And by the way, I don't want to dismiss him. He is a genius. He is someone who's connected to the history and the passion of the geeks and the comic books and able to translate that so that he's satiating both that audience and the new audience and an audience of different ages. So, you know, Kevin is a hero still is still in my book.

Maybe the book isn't final written, but he's currently there on that. But what's really interesting about what you're saying, Joanna, is I find myself laughing because, wow, here you sit with all of this success and you fall into the exact trap or problem of the comic book business, which is that every week or every month a new book comes out and you have these dual roles of one, keeping somebody who's been with you for years, very, very engaged. And at the same time, if someone just picks up that issue,

Joanna (28:58.478)

Mitch Joel (29:27.944)
to capture their attention so that they either go back or forward and let me tell you, it makes reading comics a complete nightmare. As somebody who was out of it for a long time and came back into it, I was completely lost and confused and this is not a market of one commentary on it. It is a problem of this publishing industry and there's a parallel kind of interesting reality in that which is

Joanna (29:39.255)

Joanna (29:51.182)

Mitch Joel (29:55.44)
Wow, like talk about the most amazing art form in the world because creatively you have writers and artists every month trying to create something new and they've been doing it serially for decades. With the same characters who aren't aging, by the way, in many instances. So I find it completely mind boggling that you come into this glut of content and they fall into the exact trap that actually made them successful at the beginning, which is...

Joanna (30:08.822)

Joanna (30:11.967)

Mitch Joel (30:23.128)
We're not going to serialize us. We're not going to make it all connected. We're going to give people just a wallop of a story with Iron Man or a wallop of a story with whomever.

Joanna (30:33.194)
Well, I mean, what they had at the beginning was a fresh start, and they were just building. And those first movies are connected. You know, like Tony Stark shows up at the end of the Hulk movie. Like, they're lightly connected. They're lightly sewn through, and then you get your big crossover Avengers movies. And so they're just sort of like, you know, Nick Fury shows up at the end of Iron Man to talk about the Avengers. Tony Stark shows up at the end of Hulk.

Mitch Joel (30:44.155)

Joanna (30:59.006)
You know, we are slowly building towards something. But at that point, let's.

Mitch Joel (31:02.236)
But they're building origin stories, right? They're reinventing origin stories, not like you're dropped in at issue 143.

Joanna (31:09.482)
Well, exactly, but that's just what time has done to the MCU. Because if you were getting it, you know, say you want to see the Avengers movie and you've never seen the first Avengers movie, you've never seen a Marvel movie. Well, you got to watch Iron Man Hulk, Iron Man 2, Captain America Thor. OK, that's daunting, but it's still only five movies. Now you want to drop in. You've got a decade plus of content to catch up on and all the shows. And it's like, how do you do that? I hear a lot from.

parents who love the MCU, who want to get their kids into the MCU. And they're like, Oh my gosh, they have so much to catch up on. You know, and it's not, you know, Star Wars is, you know, slowly walking its way towards a similar situation. But, you know, when I was a kid, when I was a kid, there's three Star Wars movies. OK, when I'm a teenager, there's six Star Wars movies. OK, you know, like that's OK. And then now there's just so many and.

Mitch Joel (31:52.589)
It is.

Joanna (32:04.29)
I love this stuff. Again, I talk about it every single week for my job. And also there's that, and this happened a lot with Game of Thrones too. There's that sort of content industrial complex that builds up around these stories where, when I started my first Game of Thrones podcast, we were only one of a handful because we started right at the beginning.

And we had I read the books and so I could be like, OK, you don't know who this character is. Don't worry. I've read the books. I can talk to you about it, you know. And by the time Game of Thrones is over, there was just like a good Gillian Game of Thrones podcast and a good Gillian people were like, I read the books. You're not new. You're not exciting, Joanna. We've all read the books at this point. But but that explainer culture that and that's something that Kevin Feige talked about when I talked to him for the book.

Mitch Joel (32:34.46)
Got you.

Joanna (32:57.514)
in when the first Iron Man movie comes out and they're like, they want it to be good. They're excited about it, but they don't know how big it's going to be. And when Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson shows at the end of Iron Man, they were like, that's just a little, a little treat for the diehard fans. It doesn't really matter if you don't know who Nick Fury is, it's a little treat. He was like, by that weekend, Entertainment Weekly had a little explainer about who Nick Fury was. And he was like, that's when I knew something else entirely was going on.

I thought we had dropped a little sweet treat in there for our old school comic book fans. But now everyone's talking about who's Nick Fury? What does this mean? What does this mean for the future? What is it going to build? And that's something so exciting and cool that they could do at the beginning that they can't do anymore because there's just too many, you know, there's too many cooks in the kitchen. There's too many players. There's too many balls in the air. And which metaphor do I want to pick? Balls in the air is what I'll go with. But like the the.

Mitch Joel (33:25.243)

Mitch Joel (33:52.879)
Too many red weddings, Joanna.

Joanna (33:54.782)
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Well, not enough red weddings. There's too many people still running around, you know? But I think that the other issue. And again, I wouldn't count Marvel out. We've heard the term superhero fatigue for like five years now. I would say there is a different feeling in 2023 than ever before about Marvel. I'm not denying that that's the case, but I think it's premature to say that Marvel is over.

Mitch Joel (33:58.424)
Maybe not love.

Joanna (34:21.438)
I think they have some changes they need to make, but I don't think they're done. People have counted them out before after Age of Ultron, for example. There have been moments when people are like, this isn't really it. Oh, you're gonna make a movie about a talking raccoon and a sentient tree? Who's gonna go see that? And then Guardians is one of the biggest things they've ever done. So a problem they're facing now, and I'm curious your thoughts on this from a business perspective about the health of an organization this way.

Kevin Feige is the head of Marvel Studios, has been for a very long time, not since the very beginning, but for a very long time. He's a creative guy, he's a film guy, he's a creative producer. He has this thing that he does that no head of studio does where one of his longtime producers and friends told us that Kevin will say, go out, make the film, bring the pieces back, and then we'll make the film here, and then we'll do reshoots. They build in reshoots, right? So Kevin's like almost a director,

slash producer slash head of the studio. Very unusual. Kathy Kennedy is not doing that at Lucasfilm. That's not what other heads of studios are doing. What happens? So that's how their structure works. It's unusual, it was disruptive, it worked. What happens then if you only have one Kevin Feige? What happens then when you go from two to three movies a year to all these TV shows on top of it? You can't have Feige come and put together the pieces of every single thing you're doing.

especially not in television when that's just not how TV production schedules work. So they create this thing called the Marvel Parliament, which is a sort of council of kings, if you prefer, if you're a comic book person, of a number of longtime producers at Marvel who are sort of trying to be mini-figgies. But if you only have one, like he's a one of one. So if you only from a business point of view, what do you think? Like if you have this creative genius.

Mitch Joel (36:07.292)
Thanks for watching!

Joanna (36:15.586)
who's also got a business mind at the top of your organization, you cannot replicate him. What does that mean when you try to scale up your production? What do you, like, how do you do that? What do you do?

Mitch Joel (36:27.76)
The only recognizable story that feels similar is when Steve Jobs died. And if you look at Tim Cook's tenure over the decade, he grew it at a multiple of which Steve Jobs couldn't. And I think part of it was the creativity became part of the DNA and then it became a real business strategy opportunity. Very different when you're in the creative space as these are.

But what I was also thinking about is, wow, this just sounds like the story of Stan Lee also. Isn't that strange that you had this room full of people like Byrne and Ramita June? Like you had incredible creatives in that room. And it was the Stan Lee show. It's very interesting how, again, this history keeps repeating itself with this brand. It's so strange to me.

Joanna (37:02.8)
I mean...

Joanna (37:17.354)
Yeah. I think that's a really good comp. That's a really good point. I do think there's a slight difference. The difference between Feige and Stan Lee is that Stan Lee was like a born showman and he loved that part, right? He just loved being the face of Marvel. Feige can do it, but it's not his preference. Like, you know, you can get him to play the ringmaster at Comic-Con, but that's not really, you know, what he wants to be doing.

Mitch Joel (37:41.756)
But it doesn't matter. Stan Lee was on the boards changing writing as it was evolving, much in the same way Feige would do, you know, lock in room for the reshoots. Very, it's a strange thing where I feel like there's this hauntingness of this brand that keeps going back to the way it was. And it'll only work if it fails and goes to zero and then comes back again. It's a strange business for that brand.

Joanna (37:47.242)

Joanna (37:53.693)

Joanna (38:08.674)
this has happened before and will happen again. I mean, I think what's, you know, yeah.

Mitch Joel (38:11.032)
Yeah, even just the toy business of Marvel is like that too. It's the exact same trajectory. It goes up, it goes crazy, it dies.

Joanna (38:17.834)
Well, I want to ask you, since you're a comics fan, a project they have on the horizon, the future, is something called, and I'm going to try to explain this for your listeners who are not comic fans, something called Secret Wars. Now, please don't turn off the podcast. I'm not going to go too deep in this. I don't want to lose you. But all I'll say is that.

If you're following even just a few of the projects right now, say the latest Spider-Man movie or Loki or something like that, you know that they're dabbling in this concept of the multiverse, that they are trying to get people on board with the concept of multiverse, which is there are multiple versions of these characters across different realities. What Secret Wars as a concept, a conflict concept could offer them is a chance to completely wipe the slate.

reboot continuity, start over. And so all of a sudden, it feels like it's sort of like when Lucasfilm decanonized a bunch of those old Star Wars novels, and they're like, that's legends now. You can read it if you want to. But you don't have to in order to this. It's not canon. That's legends. So Jason, you know, Skywalker, I'm so sorry. You're a legend now. But people can read about it if you want. But don't take it too seriously. And so there's a there's a potentiality for them.

after this big event that they have on their film slate, Secret Wars, that they could keep what they want, get rid of what they don't, and that feeling of homework might go away in several years down the road.

Mitch Joel (39:50.276)
I believe that there's two really easy paths. One is make the movies movies, so they're not serialized. And if you feel it's a serial, go to TV with it. They have the gateway to do that. And the way I would see Secret Wars, because I was there and was the person who bought it off the rack when it first came out, is it feels like Infinity Wars. It feels like any other. For those who don't know, every year or multiple times a year, both DC and Marvel will do these events.

Joanna (40:08.119)

Mitch Joel (40:18.616)
And an event might be something like a secret wars. It might be something like death metal for DC or whatever it might be, which is essentially taking the characters and putting them into this united or different type of storyline that then will go into the individual books and have a book of its own. It's a way to just increase sales and viewers and things like that. So when I see them trying to do this in the movies, my honest reaction is why. I don't think they've gone down enough paths with these heroes.

Joanna (40:46.133)

Mitch Joel (40:47.576)
in terms of turning them into franchises onto themselves, a James Bond and Indiana Jones type of thing. And it just feels like they always fall short of it and then put them together as a group because we need just big names on a screen. I think that's where the frustration lies for the nerdy fans, but I also think that it speaks to what you're saying. That is probably the quickest path to having those wins. It's just a great story. And again, you mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a perfect example of that.

It almost didn't matter who the characters were because it was an absurd title to choose out of all of that canon to go with. And the fact that it worked or didn't work in wherever it's at now, I don't think is a testament to the Guardians of the Galaxy brand or characters. It was a testament to the story and the moment. Could have been anybody at that point, almost.

Joanna (41:19.845)

Joanna (41:36.174)
almost, but I mean, guardians, when you ask.

people at Marvel, when you ask, like even Robert Downey Jr. and like we talked to Robert Downey Jr. and you would think that if you asked Robert Downey Jr. what's the most important Marvel movie? He would say Iron Man, right? Especially like given, you know, Downey has a very healthy opinion of himself, right? So he's like, Iron Man, I did it, I started it all, right? Guardians, he says Guardians, they all say Guardians because what happened with Guardians of the Galaxy is that it was so weird.

Not the weirdest comic book movie you've ever seen I've seen Howard the Duck, you know, like there are weirder comic movies But by the standards of a Disney movie pretty weird James Gunn a pretty edgy pick for something like this and When they made Guardians they made it out and you know, it's out in space. It takes place out in space Sure Thanos is involved, but like it's not really wrapped up in the larger Avengers continuity So if Guardians have been a big flop

Mitch Joel (42:13.872)
Yeah, that's much weirder for sure.

Joanna (42:40.67)
Okay, we did it, we tried it. We're not going back out to space again, don't worry about it. But it wasn't, and so then they wrapped it up in, and then you get the Guardians showing up for Infinity War and Endgame, and they get wrapped into continuity, and then Crystal Special. But that's, I think that idea of like, we need to be ready to slice this off if it doesn't work in its launch, should be more of an attitude they have. So like something like to go back to that werewolf by night example.

Mitch Joel (42:49.916)
Yeah. And a Christmas special.

Joanna (43:08.202)
And really, Disney's not paying me to say this, but I really do encourage folks, if you're like, I'm kinda out on Marvel, I'm not really sure, it's like an hour, and it's just like a little Halloween treat. But if that had been bad, it wasn't, but if it had been, then you never need to hear about it again, because it has nothing to do with the larger continuity. But since it was good, we might see Gael in the future wrapped up somehow into the continuity that could happen, you know, because...

Mitch Joel (43:12.136)

Joanna (43:35.83)
They, I think that's such a smart way to sort of soft launch something, a low risk, do, do one installment onto, on Disney plus. It's a great way to launch something. And then if it works, it works and develop it more. And if it doesn't. Okay. We tried it, you know,

Mitch Joel (43:50.824)
And I think that speaks to what you were saying earlier. Guardians had nothing to lose, because those characters weren't so big in the fodder. Same with Scarlet Witch. These were characters that weren't huge in the, if you looked at the Marvel Universe actual books and who the heroes are, you're not seeing that much content from it. So you can play with it. And I think when they played with it creatively, it gave them a lot of space, which is interesting.

Joanna (44:16.162)
Scarlet, Scarlet Witch is another also really interesting one because that's when like, I don't know, I get really nerdy about the rights deals and it's like Scarlet Witch is so interesting because she's like, she kind of falls under the X-Men rights and under the Marvel rights. And so you had, I mean, the famous examples, you had two Quicksilvers, one over at Fox and one over at Marvel. They launched at the same time. Scarlet Witch is sort of in that, you know, brother and sister sort of in that same camp.

Mitch Joel (44:24.548)

Mitch Joel (44:28.475)

Joanna (44:45.714)
That was just a fascinating sort of little mini rights struggle that happened in front of our eyes midway through this.

Mitch Joel (44:53.276)
We have a couple minutes and I want to talk about a lot of things. So one is what's going on with DC? So it's very interesting to talk about parallel universes and multiverses. But the truth is we have a real multiverse here with DC. You have characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and on and on. We've heard these names a couple of times. People literally believe there's a curse going on here when you have these types of characters, Justice League, Snyder.

Joanna (45:00.854)

Joanna (45:12.052)
Ever heard of them?

Joanna (45:18.518)

Mitch Joel (45:21.616)
What is your take after spending so much time in the MCU and thinking about the sea, which I'm sure you have to? Why, why can't they convert?

Joanna (45:27.787)

Joanna (45:32.106)
I think so what's so interesting about this story is that when Marvel is trying to launch Iron Man 2008, they're doing it under the massive shadow cast by Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, right? Yeah, Nolan is just Nolan first, you know, Rami with Sam Rami was Spider-Man at Sony and then Nolan with Batman at Warner Brothers. Massive seismic changes in the way that we think about superhero cinema, you know, Spider-Man was massive.

Mitch Joel (45:42.856)
Huge movie, yeah.

Mitch Joel (45:59.216)
Marvel wanted a piece of that. There's no doubt that Marvel saw what was happening Batman. They wanted a piece of that

Joanna (46:01.918)
Absolutely. Right. And Nolan's Batman was so, so popular and so prestigious that it changed the way that the Oscars, you know, did their best picture category because the Dark Knight didn't get nominated and there was an outcry. And so they're like, Oh, well, we'll nominate more films. It's just like, you cannot understate.

Nope, you cannot overstate how important Nolan's Batman movies were. So then he hands the keys over to Zack Snyder. However you feel, I'm not a huge fan of Man of Steel personally, but however you feel about that first movie, that's just like that's a way to launch a new for here. Here he is. Henry Cavill. Great casting. Henry Cavill, Man of Steel. We're doing Superman.

Zack Snyder is here, he's using all of his comic book iconography that he brought to his Watchmen film. He is like, he is just doing the thing. Warner Brothers gets impatient. And Warner Brothers says, we want a franchise now. And he's like, well, what about Man of Steel 2? They're like, mm, what about Batman v Superman? Why don't we plus it, you know? And so then they're running, they're running towards Justice League.

Whereas to go back to what we talked about before when Marvel Studios is launching their Avengers you get Iron Man Then you get Hulk then you get Captain America Then you get Thor and then you get the Avengers and DC, you know When you talk to Kevin Feige an incredibly diplomatic man, he will not criticize DC He will not criticize other people for failing to put together what he put together But he will say is walk before you run

And that's what a lot of people, they're impatient to get what Marvel had. And so they didn't take their time to brick by brick build their franchise. That's my that's my diagnosis. What do you think?

Mitch Joel (47:52.708)
Yeah, what's a weird thing, because you also have things like the Joker. You mentioned Watchmen, which was tremendous success. There was success in TV, Lois and Clark, and there was stuff around Smallville that did quite well. Suicide Squad had a little bit of hints of potentially doing what it was doing with Guardians of the Galaxy. You have interesting characters, Harley Quinn being one of them that maybe has been playing secondary, but should definitely be primary. They've tried and you know, Wonder Woman was.

Joanna (48:04.755)

Mitch Joel (48:21.884)
great and then a miss. It's a frustrating experience, I think, for many people. And by the way, as I'm saying all these titles, I'm realizing maybe we've been too harsh on DC that perhaps they have done some pretty big stuff.

Joanna (48:34.89)
I mean, yeah, I mean, the first Wonder Woman film is undeniable. Aquaman. I hate to shock you, but Aquaman is like their most popular, like the most financially successful, I guess, globally. The world loves Jason Momoa. Great. And Aquaman is sort of this sort of psychedelic cartoon. Obviously, as you know, and, you know, maybe your listeners may not, but we mentioned James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy. He's now with Peter Safran is now going to be in charge of DC

Mitch Joel (48:37.349)

Mitch Joel (49:01.288)

Joanna (49:04.624)
interesting to see the slate that he's debuting and what lessons he's taking from what Kevin Feige did and what lessons he isn't. And he obviously gets to work with not the B-list Ben Schwimmer, Iron Man, etc. He gets to work with Batman and Superman. But what he's doing when you look at the projects he's picking. So like the first Batman movie he's doing is something called Brave and the Bold, which has to do, if you're a comic book fan, you know, has to do with what's known as the Bat-

family. So we've seen a Batman origin story a million times. We see the Waynes die on crime alley, we don't need to see it again. This is Batman. What about Batman and his many Robins? What about Batman and Batgirl? What about like this larger family idea? And if you think about what James Gunn has done with Guardians of the Galaxy, and his Suicide Squad movie, this idea of family and found family is absolutely his strong suit. So he's starting with that character based

Idea which I think is huge for Marvel as well You got to love the characters before you care about whether or not they get punched to death by a CGI created monster You know, you have to be invested. So

Mitch Joel (50:11.644)
Yeah. And they're busy Gotham Knights. There's Titans. There's a lot of stuff with the CW. I was like the refer to this as Beverly Hills 90210 with superheroes. You got a lot of that going. Can I, I'm curious, Joanna, about your feelings of nostalgia. It's a very interesting connection to both comic books, cultures, we see it in particular to the MCU. And I'm wondering if you think about it in relation to their success, how you have this

Joanna (50:18.646)
The CW stuff. Yeah. Sure. Yeah.

Joanna (50:30.165)

Mitch Joel (50:41.612)
which is very hard for people, whether you are connected to the books or not, these are icons of our culture, regardless of whether they're popular or not. It's like saying James Bond. You don't have to see any movie to immediately have a feeling of something there. At the same time, because of the dynamism of it, it pulls in a younger generation that may not have that feeling of nostalgia. Have you thought about the relationship and the power and pull of nostalgia? I love that in relation to businesses and brands and how it evolves in the MCU.

Joanna (51:00.846)

Joanna (51:08.914)
It's funny, I remember getting into a conversation, I think, when I was like a late teenager, early 20s, one of those like late night dorm room type conversations where I was like, why don't we have gods, man? Like, why doesn't America have gods? There are Greek gods and Egyptian gods. Like, why doesn't America have that? And my other friend was like, it's superheroes, man. Those are the American gods. Right. And so these are our gods. These are this is like American iconography. There are some other examples you can get to, and certainly there's like

Native Americans, stuff that we could talk about. But in terms of like our 20th century, 21st century culture, like these are the gods of our culture. And to your point about DC, I mean, I don't know who in this country has like a bigger impact in the way that we think about this country than like Superman. That's just huge in terms of Marvel, Spider-Man and Spider-Man, especially that nostalgia wave just sort of comes and goes. So like now you have a generation of people brought up

On Iron Man, who will be nostalgic for Downey is Tony Stark. That's so important to them. You've got a slightly earlier generation who think about, again, post 9-11, a train full of New Yorkers lifting up Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man. That is nostalgia. And like Spider-Man, No Way Home, which brought back Tobey Maguire.

gave Andrew Garfield a chance to have another at bat and gave you Tom Holland. Like that's the platonic ideal of hitting nostalgia plus contemporary fave plus underrated gemstone Andrew Garfield for cinematic glory magic. And I think that's nostalgia weaponized correctly, I think, because they had a story reason that they came up with to bring that all together. I think when nostalgia veers, there's this famous South Park episode

where they talk about this concept of member berries. And that's like this idea of like, member, member how you love this thing, member. And so when you build something on just pure empty nostalgia alone, it doesn't hold up. You need a stronger foundation than that. But when you very intentionally, and for a story reason, bring in something that hits us and makes us feel like we were, you know, when you watch the new Star Wars films,

Joanna (53:27.262)
You want to feel like you did when you were a kid watching Star Wars films. That's what you want, you know, and there are ways to do that. And then there are ways that seem empty and cynical that I think audiences can smell, you know, when you try to do that. So, yeah.

Mitch Joel (53:40.856)
I think that the Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse movies nailed that, like across the board. I get a strange one, because there's a Sony component there as well. So a strange one, but I think they nailed it as well. We're gonna get going. Tell me what you think might be the most interesting, unused asset in the catalog.

Joanna (53:45.032)
Oh, yeah, I love those films. Yeah.


Joanna (54:04.27)
Oh gosh, that's such a good question. Oh yeah, I do have an answer. I was like, do I have an answer prepared for this? I do. I mentioned to you earlier that one of my Gateway comics was Sam and that's not a Marvel comic, but that was one of my Gateways. But another one was Squirrel Girl. I love Squirrel Girl. And like if you're talking about Guardians of the Galaxy as like a weird little gamble, I think Squirrel Girl would be a really fun, interesting little gamble.

Mitch Joel (54:21.648)

Joanna (54:33.214)
exactly what it sounds like on the page. She's a girl, she's also kind of a squirrel, and she's just like really brash and peppy and you know is just a really fun weird uh little Marvel character that I would love for them to do a little one shot of her on Disney Plus to see if she has more for her in the future.

Mitch Joel (54:50.016)
She has an interesting role in the history of the Marvel universe as well. Let's go and Google that. My mine would be Alpha Flight. I think Alpha Flight is the one think about like, well, just think about the world we're in. One is you have an indigenous character. You have. Gay lesbian twins. You have all of these.

Joanna (54:54.134)
She sure does. Yeah. Ooh. What would you do with it?

Mitch Joel (55:14.456)
amazing stories that could live on its own or be interconnected with the Axemen because that's originally where Alpha Flight came out of. I have constantly watched this and thought in the world that we're in that they've let this asset just sit there has been mind-boggling to me. For me, I think it's a great one. Such an interesting team, different, just has so much good way to tie into again Wolverine and just there's so many good things you could do with that. Last question. Yeah.

Joanna (55:31.038)
I love that. I love that.

Joanna (55:41.615)
Disney, if you're listening, please call Mitch. He's available.

Mitch Joel (55:44.492)
Yeah, or Marvel, yeah. Tell me the one thing that made you think differently, Joanna.

Joanna (55:51.45)
I was I was nervous about I knew this question was coming I was a little nervous about it But then I think I hit on it at the beginning of the episode which is comic books Honestly, I spent like my teenage years or my youth saying well comic books aren't for me. I didn't look down on them I was just sort of like there was something about

having to track the dialogue bubbles, I was like, I can objectively see this as a beautiful thing that exists. I objectively know that these stories are kind of interesting to me. There's something about this medium that I just can't get and I tried and I failed and I tried and I failed and then I just took the right person putting in front of me and then all of a sudden I felt like the whole world of storytelling was open to me and I am forever grateful for the people who kept trying and kept trying to put comic books in front of me because...

It brought me here today in front of you, honestly, my late in life love for comic books and it has encouraged me to keep my mind open for what else do I think is not for me that might actually be for me in the future.

Mitch Joel (56:51.272)
It's a great one and I'd also say that for people who don't know the genre, haven't spent time with it, it's not just spandex and capes. There's non-superhero content there. In particular, I'd recommend checking out the book pulp by Ed Brubaker, who I'm a huge fan of, or even, yeah, or even department of truth, which is a very edgy story about what happens if every conspiracy theory is actually true.

Joanna (57:00.137)
Oh yeah.

Joanna (57:07.019)
Ooh, I love Ed Brubaker stuff, yeah.

Mitch Joel (57:19.408)
and there's a government unit behind it. So just very interesting stories that'll make you think differently. That's wild. So the new book is called MCU. You've got the Ringer podcast. Joanna, let people know where they can find out more about you and all the other stuff you're doing.

Joanna (57:21.927)

Joanna (57:33.762)
For information on the book, is where you can go. And for me, at Joe wrote this on Twitter and Instagram and wherever else you get social media.

Mitch Joel (57:46.152)
That's great. Thank you so much for your time.

Joanna (57:48.162)
Thanks for having me.


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