Marvel Studios

Visualizing the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Studios' Visual Development Supervisors talk envisioning the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their SDCC-exclusive poster



**UPDATED 7/24 with Hulk poster, available exclusively today at the Marvel Booth at San Diego Comic-Con today only, as well as the FULL "Marvel's The Avengers" concept art image by Ryan Meinerding, Charlie Wen and Andy Park**

By Marc Strom

Hulk SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art poster by Charlie Wen
As the Co-Visual Development Supervisors for Marvel Studios, Ryan Meinerding and Charlie Wen help to bring your favorite heroes from the printed page onto the silver screen. Working with the producers and filmmakers, Meinerding and Wen have developed the big screen looks of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and more, ensuring that when the iconic characters make the leap into your local theater, they do so in style.

Fans who attended Comic-Con International 2010 will remember the free “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” posters handed out at the Marvel Booth featuring art by Wen and Meinerding, respectively. This time, to celebrate next year’s release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Meinerding and Wen have joined forces to create a series of interlocking posters spotlighting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

"Marvel's The Avengers" SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art by Ryan Meinerding, Charlie Wen and Andy Park
Before joining Marvel Studios, Meinerding and Wen came from different professional backgrounds and, in truth, had only done a little film work prior to landing their gigs at the Cinematic House of Ideas.

“I went to the School for Industrial Design, and then worked for a little bit in video games and came out to California and went to Art Center for illustration,” recounts Meinerding. “I worked a little bit more in video games and then I got a break working for Iain McCaig at his concept design studio. So I worked on a few small films and got lucky enough to work with that same group initially on John Carter with Jon Favreau. Then when that project folded a lot of those same guys transitioned straight onto ‘Iron Man.’ I’ve been at Marvel ever since.”

Thor SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art poster by Charlie Wen
Since joining Marvel, Meinerding and Wen have, between the both of them, contributed to each of the studio’s films beginning with “Iron Man”--and Meinerding can trace his involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe quite literally to its beginning.

“I designed the Mark I for ‘Iron Man,’” the artist recalls. “I worked on Iron Monger with Adi [Granov]. In ‘Iron Man 2’ it was just me and Adi working on things so mostly everything in that movie is a split between us design-wise. I did the Suitcase Suit. Beyond that Charlie did most of the design work on ‘Thor,’ [though] I did do a few things for Odin. Most recently I designed the costume for Cap.”

Hawkeye SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art poster by Charlie Wen
Given that Wen designed many of the key characters in “Thor,” including Loki, Sif, the Warriors Three, Frigga and the Mighty Avenger himself, jumping into the world of Captain America offered a small shock at first.

SDCC 2011 Iron Man poster by Ryan Meinerding
“I didn’t have the long history with Marvel [comics] that Ryan has, so with Thor being my first Marvel film [it] was a little misleading going into Captain America,” explains Wen. “Thor is a mythological story. Maybe it was a good transition for me because I was coming out of working on fantasy-type games, so it was a smooth transition to get me into the world of Marvel.  I’m more used to fantasy than working within [a] historical framework.

“Working on Cap was very fun for me. I didn’t actually work on Cap’s costume, that was Ryan. I was mostly focused on the HYDRA side of things. I started off with Red Skull’s costume. Ryan had already done the face of Red Skull, [so] once [the film’s producers] were happy with the costume we had a direction for the rest of HYDRA. I think my favorite thing on Cap that I designed was probably some of the HYDRA helmets and Red Skull costumes.”

SDCC 2011 Captain America poster by Ryan Meinerding
According to Meinerding, while all the stars of Marvel’s films may be super heroes, each one offers up a completely unique set of design challenges, especially when it comes to taking a hero from the printed page and grounding them in our own reality. When you add the fact that some heroes’ costumes contain visual effects while others are created whole-cloth, the design process becomes even more interesting.

“In the past when I’ve worked on Marvel movies, like on the Iron Man stuff, we were all about grounding it in reality and trying to make it look like it functions,” elaborates Meinerding. “The reality of most of that stuff is that it’s going to be CG and we know that they can fake it. When it comes to stuff that’s actually made in the costume department, [‘Captain America: The First Avenger’] was my first experience with going to fittings and seeing how it looks on Chris [Evans] and making adjustments.

Black Widow SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art poster by Ryan Meinerding
“There’s a lot that goes in to it, because honestly the first version of the costume didn’t fit and didn’t make him look big or look like a super hero. And you start questioning, ‘Maybe it’s the design.’ You don’t know what it is and you just keep hammering away at it until you figure out what’s not working and what is working and tailor it to [the actor]. It was a fun and interesting experience for me because by the end he ended up looking like the illustrations. It’s great for us as artists and illustrators and designers, because we start with an ideal. We say, ‘this is ideally what we want him to look like,’ and then in working with the costume departments, going to fittings, and making comments, they try to make that idea become reality.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. SDCC 2011 exclusive concept art poster by Andy Park
Working on the Iron Man poster available exclusively at the Marvel Booth during Comic-Con International Preview Night last night offered Meinerding the chance to return to the previous films and pick out the core elements from each.
“Iron Man was about trying to pick out the emotional beats. This was the big emotional beat from ‘Iron Man’ and this was the emotional beat from ‘Iron Man 2,’ and [we wanted to show where] he’s coming into Avengers.”
Stay tuned to for more from Ryan Meinerding and Charlie Wen in the coming days!

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      that is, for those of us who could not make it to San Diego?


      So, will these images be available in a poster in the future?