Bringing legends to life
> A Marvel insider shares what goes on behind the scenes when taking characters from the pages of comic books to the silver screen
business development & brand management at Marvel.
Cebulski has worked for the company since 2002 in various roles, including editor, writer and senior vice president of creative and creator development.
He currently spearheads efforts to further manage and develop Marvel’s brand in Asia.
When asked if superhero fatigue has set in among audiences during a recent tele-conference interview, Cebulski said: “No, I don’t think so. [But] I would be lying if I say that we are unaware of that feeling.
“In Marvel, we never look at things [going on around us]. We don’t focus on what our competitors are doing. We just focus on our future.
“We have a history of producing great content. Great characters which we have, and great creators which we hire, equals great content. We stick to that formula and we will be successful.
“It has worked for us for over 75 years with comics, and it has worked well for us for over 10 years [with films].
“The way I look at Marvel movies is that they may be superhero films, but in many ways, they are also genre films.
“You have Captain America: Winter Soldier which is a spy thriller, and Guardians of the Galaxy which is a sci-fi movie, and you have Ant-Man which is a romantic-comedy and family film, and you have Captain America: Civil War which was a true superhero blockbuster.
“The movie is not always about the superhero. Just like in the comic books, it is about the human spirit.”
What about the fact that Dr Strange is not as familiar as other iconic Marvel characters?
“Well, we have Benedict Cumberbatch, so that helps!” Cebulski laughed. “His popularity cannot be denied.”
Still gung ho about the superhero franchise for Marvel, Cebulski added: “[Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige and his team have done a fine job of taking the Marvel characters and boiling them down, finding their origin story, and finding that humanity that people can relate to.
“People forget that Iron Man wasn’t one of our most popular characters in the early 2000s. But just by choosing a great director, a good actor and a good cast, and telling a story with heart that people can relate to – that was the [foundation] that Kevin and his people [set].”
Cebulski said that people were also sceptical when Marvel wanted to make Guardians of the Galaxy.
“They asked: ‘You want to make a movie about a racoon and a tree?’ But it was one of the biggest blockbusters of that year.
“We are doing the same thing with Dr Strange. Admittedly even in the comic books, he has been a bit of a background character.
“Now we are putting him in the forefront. [We] are pulling everything out of Dr Strange to break him down and then build him back up for movie audiences.
“Dr Strange may be different in the beginning but he will find peace, and the inner hero within himself to make him a better person.
“It is this journey that will appeal to audiences, and they will see he [is] an important hero in the Marvel universe.”
(top) Cebulski … still gung ho about Marvel’s superhero franchise with such movies as (from far left) Dr Strange; Guardians of the Galaxy; and Captain America: Civil War.