Comic-Con@Home: A Look At Disney+’s ‘Marvel 616’ — From Ms. Marvel To Typeface

by Erik Amaya

Disney+‘s upcoming Marvel 616 takes a look at the wide Marvel world as various filmmakers investigate distinct aspects of the company’s 80 year history. And during a Comic-Con@Home presentation on Thursday, executive producers Sarah Amos and Jason Sterman, along with and directors Gillian Jacobs and Paul Scheer, discussed the documentary series and what it means for Marvel to look back on its own past.
As Amos pointed out, Marvel’s various tones from title to title inspired the way each episode will also change its focus from the comical to the serious and everything in between. It also allowed a way for the show to be for the “San Diego Comic-Con crowd” and the more casual Marvel fans who may be coming to the story from the movies available on Disney+.
“Each episode acts as its own individual film,” added Sterman. “It gives them an opportunity to find the things they love.” The program will offer multiple entry points. The episodes directed by Jacobs and Scheer illustrate just how varied Marvel’s story can be.
“I don’t think I’d ever actually read a comic all the way through,” admits Jacobs, who directed an episode focused on the women of Marvel Comics — both the characters and the creative people behind them. “It was exciting process for me to learn a lot about Marvel and fall in love with comics,” she said. Talking more specifically about the episode, Jacobs felt she “made a piece about the history of comics” instead of something focused entirely on Marvel. The scope allowed her to learn about a wide cross-section of people — both in the company’s history, like Louise Simonson, and currently working in its offices. “I had to go back to the ’30s … and how [the industry’s history] effected Marvel.” The research even took her to the 1950s congressional hearings on juvenile delinquency. The process allowed her a unique way into appreciating comics. “I got so into it that I was starstruck,” she said.
According to Sterman, Jacobs journey of discovery opened a new way to discussing the arrival of characters like Ms. Marvel. “She really showed the timeline and how it allowed for that and what people follow on from here as well.”
Amos added that the episode reveals the way people can come to Marvel without a lot of knowledge and become experts. “Marvel can be for anyone. From an audience perspective to the creatives,” she said. “This film really encapsulates that.”
“As a Marvel fan, it’s probably going to scratch an itch you didn’t know you had,” Scheer said.
His episode, a deep-dive into some of the lesser-known characters, goes from discussing Reginald Hudlin‘s transformative run on Black Panther, which pulled the character out of the C-List, to Gerry Dugan‘s exploration of Dr. Druid.

“You’re getting to see the passion of the creatives for characters who exist in the world of Marvel,” Scheer explained. Some of the characters are “that weird uncle” and the fascination many writers — which includes Scheer himself — have for these odd characters inspired this look at villains with mongoose powers and Typface. “I’m talking about the people who are behind the scenes even more, like the Whizzer … these are the characters we need to uncover,” Scheer said.
One such character, Asbestos Lady, threw Jacobs for loop. “Is that real?” she asked. She was also surprised by Hellcow.
“The more obscure [the character], the more passionate [Paul] became,” Amos added. To her, “seeing what Paul found and just getting blank stares from the executives was the best.”
Scheer also admitted he’d love to do a short-run Damage Control book.
The contrast between his episode and Jacobs’ offers just a glimpse of the sorts of stories Marvel 616 will tell across its eight episodes. Amos hopes each will bring new readers to Marvel Comics and create new connections between various parts of the fandom. “We’re going to make everyone love comics the way Gillian now loves comics with this series!” she joked.
“It makes me sad that I didn’t read comics as a kid, because there is a unique joy that you get,” she said. “Now, I got to experience that as an adult.”
Marvel 616 debuts soon on Disney+.

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