By Chris Arrant
For those wanting more after seeing "Captain America: The First Avenger," they haven’t got far to go: Marvel’s released a tie-in story to the movie in comic book form with the series CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST VENGEANCE. Originally serialized as a digital comic on the Marvel Comics App, this tie-in to the movie has now hit bookshelves in its very own collection, telling stories of each of the movie’s main characters from friend to foe.
|Captain America: First Vengeance TPB cover art by Paolo Rivera|
“As a prequel, this story gives the backstory for all the major characters in the film, from mainstays like Cap and Bucky to Agent 13 Sharon Carter, Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos," says series writer Fred Van Lente. "Comics fans will have fun seeing everyone from old favorites like Montgomery Fallsworth to new ones as well.”
Set in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe in which the movies are set, CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST VENGEANCE gave Van Lente a chance to exploit the unique setting of the Marvel Universe in the 1940s. When asked about new concepts and connections the movie verse set out for Captain America, the comics writer had a lot to say.
“Well, definitely what they did with a young Johann Schmidt/Red Skull,” Van Lente explains. “Also the connections between the Red Skull and HYDRA to Asgardian mythology by way of the German composer Richard Wagner. It’s kind of neat, and was the result of 20/20 hindsight looking back at the original stories.
“When Captain America was originally created, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby didn’t have 20/20 hindsight to see how things would fit together with the Marvel characters to follow,” the writer points out. “With the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’re able to make those connections and heighten all of the characters’ weight.”
Although they elaborated on what came before in the comics, it’s still the same characters comics fans have loved for 70 years.
|Captain America: First Vengeance preview art by Luke Ross|
“They’re definitely the same characters, which the studios were very adamant about,” describes Van Lente. “The producers made sure it seamlessly fit with the universe of the movies. It’s officially part of that mythos with the movies, and it’s cool to be a part of that.”
From the outside looking in, it might seem like an easy process to write a comic based on a movie. The comic tie-in was written simultaneous to the production of the film with several factors in a constant state of flux. Marvel Studios’ Creative Manager Will Corona Pilgrim acted as the go-between for Marvel Publishing and the movie set to ensure a seamless connection.
“The broad strokes of the stories are conceptualized on the studio side, with Kevin Feige and the executives who work on that particular film weighing in on what stories they feel are not only engaging but would work well in the comic book medium," divulges Corona Pilgrim. "We then work together with Publishing on getting our 'wish lists' of writers and artists for the books, and once we get the green light we all work together on providing the editors with feedback every step of the way, on scripts, pencils, colors, letters and the like. Ralph Macchio and Charlie Beckerman were fantastic at keeping us up to date the second pages came in so we could get set photos for reference and über-specific notes back to the artists in time to make the deadlines.”
On the publishing side, long-time Marvel editor Ralph Macchio shepherded this project from inception to publication.
|Captain America: First Vengeance preview art by Luke Ross|
“There was a lot of pressure for us on the publishing side,” admits Macchio. ”The first issue was scheduled to debut online the day of the Super Bowl, and we had very specific guidelines for what had to be done for it to fit as a tie-in to the film.”
After both Macchio and Van Lente reviewed the movie’s shooting script and committed it to memory, the writer worked up an outline for the comic series that was sent to Marvel Studios.
“We were brought into the inner circle from the very beginning,” Van Lente reveals. “Joe Quesada also informed a lot of what the comic would become, and his helpful guidance made it even tighter with the movie while also exploiting the things comics do best.”
Although CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST VENGEANCE has quickly turned into the most well-known of the comic series connected to Marvel’s movies, it’s not the first. After the success of the first Iron Man movie, Marvel Studios laid out a plot that would fit between the final scene of the first film to the opening of the second.
“We knew there was a lot of open territory to explore, specifically with characters like Tony’s father, Howard, and the great moment where Tony and General Ross meet up in the bar at the end of 'The Incredible Hulk,'" recalls Corona Pilgrim. "A comic book tie-in series that we could treat as a true extension of the film, or canonical, seemed like a great way to let the fans in on a little bit of the fun that goes on in the writers' room of these movies. After getting all the specs ironed out by Marvel Publishing, they put Ralph and Alejandro Arbona on the case and the group of us collaborated on what would ultimately become IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY and the three-part digital comic IRON MAN 2: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.”
When asked about more comics spinning out of the stories of the movies, Corona Pilgrim was optimistic.
”If the fans continue to desire it, we are more than happy to oblige,” said Marvel Studios’ Creative Manager. “There are plenty more MCU stories still waiting to be told!”
“What better place,” adds Van Lente,” than the comics medium to do that?”
"Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Check out the official "Captain America: The First Avenger" official site as well as its hub page right here on Marvel.com for the latest on Cap's big screen adventure, now in theaters!
In addition to "Captain America: The First Avenger," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Marvel's The Avengers" on May 4, 2012, and "Iron Man 3" on May 3, 2013.