Be it movies or television shows, Marvel has formed a huge fan following in India in the past few years so much so that Avengers Infinity War is still the biggest earner in 2018 so far, despite all the big Bollywood releases. The movies are loved and the TV shows, most of them streaming on Netflix, have a huge fan base. So, what is it about this comic book universe that appeals to the Indian sensibilities so much despite the stark cultural differences?
In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, Stephen Wacker (VP – Creative Development, Marvel) spoke about the plans that Marvel has for its Indian audience and the appeal of the Marvel content. Stephen shared that the content that Marvel makes has a universal appeal as it’s aspirational in nature. He said, “It’s the belief that there is a hero inside all of us. Within each of us is the belief that we can be better than who we are. I think that’s exciting for everybody.”
Since Marvel has done excellent business in India in 2018 with Avengers Infinity War and Black Panther, Marvel has plans to please their Indian fan base. Stephen shared, “I think in the next few years Marvel is going to try to create characters with a real toehold in Indian culture. Try for authenticity that can go as far as finding Indian talent. We want to find a way to create characters that have a home in this world so we can bring Indian culture to the core North American Marvel fan. Let them understand a different part of the world too. I think that’s going to be an exciting thing for Marvel. My hope is that the fan in India feels just as much part of the Marvel universe as some kid in New York.”
Nothing could be more exciting for an Indian fan to watch their favourite superheroes finding their way in our neighbourhood. If Marvel plans to make content in India, is there a chance of them collaborating with popular Indian actors? To this, Stephen laughed and said, “If we make Indian content, we have to put Shah Rukh Khan. He has to be in it.” On a serious note, Stephen further said, “I can’t speak for the movies. If we have stories set in different countries, the goal is always to use actors from that part of the world.”
Stephen further said that Black Panther opened up a lot of the world for Marvel fans but the film still felt like a regular superhero story. “We need a Black Panther for India for sure,” he said.
Stephen is a longtime Marvel fan and has also worked as a Senior Editor for Marvel Comics. He develops new content for Marvel Entertainment which includes television, animation, publishing and new media. With Marvel TV expanding its universe, we asked Stephen if they plan to make a show on Iron Man. “The movie characters are meant to live in the movie area, the TV characters are meant to live in that area. Where the opportunity comes to share characters, I think we would do that. One of the things that has helped Marvel is that while plans change all the time, there has generally been a plan of ‘let’s do this and let’s do this well’ before we start blowing everything up,” Stephen shared.
We also asked him about a spin-off series on Thanos to which Stephen promptly replied, ” I can’t say anything until the second movie comes out.”