Marvel comics have always married the fantastical with the realistic to produce their most well-known and enjoyed stories. This spring-boarding of fiction off of authenticity becomes the focus in a new series of original documentaries called “Tales to Astonish,” which investigate the commentary on the world outside that Marvel has never hesitated to offer.
“So many of Marvel’s stories and characters were created by storytellers—editors, writers, pencilers—who like all great artists are often influenced by events happening in the real world,” asserts Marvel VP of Content & Programming John Cerilli. “In ‘Tales to Astonish,’ we now have the opportunity to explore all of these influences and, in turn, entertain a wider swath people who may or may not have known about these things, but are interested in entertainment with really compelling narratives.
“It was the perfect medium to take a comprehensive look at the impact Marvel characters and stories have had not only on the Marvel Universe, but to real world itself.”
To kick off the initiative, Marvel has selected the best-selling limited series CIVIL WAR as the first subject.
“[CIVIL WAR] leapt to the top of the pile when we realized that it really had everything in it that we were looking to accomplish, plus it featured two of Marvel’s biggest super heroes on opposite sides and at each other’s throats,” reveals Cerilli. “Extremely compelling stuff.”
“The whole concept of the super hero registration act was something that was clearly influenced by the Patriot Act that was in the news constantly while this story was being created and ultimately being published in 2006,” he continues. “Then what happened was completely unpredictable. While we started working on the documentary [with] Eric Drath of Livestar Entertainment being our chosen director for this, the NSA spying scandal broke. All of the sudden, CIVIL WAR seemed more prophetic than ever.”
The above mentioned documentarian Drath proved an incredibly important addition to the project, Cerilli stresses.
“When we were vetting potential directors for the first episode of ‘Tales to Astonish,’ someone told me [Drath] had directed HBO’s ‘Assault in the Ring’ in 2008, [and] I just knew we had to let him loose on the Marvel Universe,” he recalls. “If you’ve never seen it, it’s one the greatest sports documentaries ever made. At the core of it is its unflinching look at humanity and all of its foibles. And what better voice could there possibly be for Marvel’s collection of all-too-human super heroes than that?”
A set of individuals from various disciplines taking part also became quickly significant to fully realizing the documentary’s potential.
“We promise voices from both inside and outside Marvel,” Cerilli affirms. “I think most people will be rather shocked and thrilled all at once at the people we have gathered for the film and how eloquent and knowledgeable they are about the Marvel Universe.”
SXSW 2014: Tales to Astonish Trailer
Looking beyond the first “Tales to Astonish,” there has not yet been a determination of what other stories will enter the spotlight. However, all possibilities and periods remain open to possibility.
“They will bounce around,” Cerilli says. “We will tell tales from all eras of Marvel storytelling, from the earliest Captain America comics up to the modern era. Everything Marvel is fair game.”
For now though, Cerilli remains focused on making sure the first offering reaches as many fans as possible:
“I can’t wait for the world to see the full episode. Stay tuned to Marvel.com and our social media outlets to find out when and where it will launch.”
Get all the latest news from SXSW 2014 all weekend long right here on Marvel.com!