Big announcements at WonderCon 2018!

Marvel Animation panels are always a packed house thanks to continuing storylines for our favorite heroes, and new and interesting art styles that fans love to see. This year’s WonderCon panel was no exception, as fans waited excitedly to see what would be revealed during Marvel Animation: From Pencil To Screen.

The crowded panel room were welcomed by Cort Lane, Marvel’s SVP, Animation & Family Entertainment, who lead a panel featuring Kalia Ramirez, Director, Family Entertainment – Development & Partnerships; Harrison Wilcox, Senior Director, Television, Development & Production; Eric Radomski, SVP, Production & Creative Director, Animation; Jeff Allen, Supervising Director; Mairghread Scott, writer and story consultant; and Collette Sunderman, Voice Director, “Marvel’s Spider-Man.”

First up was big news for fans of “Marvel’s Avengers,” Lane described season five as a Black Panther story and is thusly titled, “Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest.” Along with the addition of this new hero comes a design change that simplifies the style and conceptualizes a brand new look. The new style reflects T’Challa’s sleek fighting style that sets a new tone for the production design.

James Mathis continues to voice T’Challa and the big reveal was that his sister Shuri will be voiced by Daisy Lightfoot. Recording as an ensemble to voice the Wakandan siblings reflects the core of the season where togetherness reigns as Black Panther must battle an old foe, the Shadow Council.

Fan-favorite “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout!” integrates the Guardians with the Disney California Adventure Ride attraction and the fallout of dealing with the Collector. Scott teased this season the Guardians will quite literally get to explore the galaxy even more, including further exploration of the Symbiote storyline. Expeditions into different dimensions also brings about the possibility of changing animation styles.

Marvel Funko Shorts have always been a hit with fans, and at the panel the audience was treated to the premiere viewing of the new short, “Rooftop Rock,” which features Spider-Gwen and Marvel’s most popular villain, Venom.

The Marvel LEGO collaboration brings toys and animation together and the panel was the perfect opportunity to announce the voice cast for “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda.” James Mathis III returns to his role as T’Challa/Black Panther, along with previously announced Daisy Lightfoot as Shuri. The cast is rounded out with Keston John (Killmonger), Yvette Nicole Brown (Okoye), Trevor Devall (Klaw), Mick Wingert (Iron Man), Travis Willingham (Thor), Roger Craig Smith (Captain America), Laura Bailey (Black Widow), Liam O’Brien (Doctor Strange), Issac C. Singleton Jr. (Thanos), and the ever popular Fred Tatasciore (Hulk).

The biggest cheer of the panel was the announcement of “Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.” Fans were so excited, cosplayers already appeared on the show floor with fully detailed costumes, with little to no information to go on. The six four-minute digital shorts will be accompanied by a feature length animated film to be released later this year.

The content features an all-star lineup of voice talent, Dove Cameron (Ghost Spider), Chloe Bennet (Quake), Tyler Posey (Inferno), Booboo Stewart (Exile), Kathreen Kavari (Ms. Marvel), Milana Vanytrub (Squirrel Girl), Cierra Ramirez (America Chavez), Kamil McFadden (Patriot), Skai Jackson (Gloria), Kim Raver (Captain Marvel), Ming-na Wen (Hala), Steven Weber (Captain George Stacy), and Dee Bradley Baker who takes on the voices of Lockjaw & Tippy Toe.

Lane emphasized the inclusivity of Marvel, “It’s meant for all kids but we’re particularly excited to bring together these new and very exciting characters that have already sort of garnered big fan attention for years.”

“There are so many strong, interesting, and diverse female characters—body types, great personalities, individual strengths, so we’re so excited about that,” said Lane enthusiastically.

For all the Marvel Animation updates, keep it on Marvel.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Marvel HQ on YouTube for full episodes and more: www.youtube.com/MarvelHQ

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Olsen and Bettany detail the difference between a Russos and a Whedon 'Avengers' film.

The Avengers are assembling to take on their biggest threat yet and Thanos looms large in Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War.” Earth’s mightiest heroes will need the entire team to take down the Mad Titan, including some of Scarlet Witch’s mutant magic.

From the set of “Infinity War,” Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) spoke about the large cast of characters, offered up their thoughts on the Mad Titan Thanos, as well as gave some interesting insight to Scarlet Witch and Vision’s complicated relationship.

Thanos is a Dark Lord that reigns unparalleled according to his underlings, but he remains a perplexing, foreboding villain that needs to be taken down by the team, “We haven’t really gotten to that bit in the exploration, but he’s not a good guy. We don’t necessarily want to be his friend. You don’t want to be his friend. Yes, he sets his goals very high,” quipped Olsen. Bettany agreed, “You don’t want to be his friend, no, but you can admire…he has an ambitious goal.”

Played by Josh Brolin, Thanos is a bad guy through and through—yet still a character that Olsen is still unsure about, “[Josh] Brolin is doing a really cool job creating an interesting villain ‘cause he doesn’t really come across…he seems he’s defending it quite well.”

Having started her journey as Scarlet Witch in Joss Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Olsen described how “Infinity War” is different from the previous film, “The main difference is that the Russos delegate and they trust everything that they’ve delegated things to. Not saying Joss didn’t, but that’s a lot of pressure to be a director and then go home to also do rewrites for the next week. It’s just as it gets bigger, things become more specific to different departments and I think it allows maybe even a freedom within the dialogue sometimes…because there’s a space some of us have the ability to step out and not be on the page.”

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo allowed the actors to speak freely about the portrayal of their characters. “At the beginning of filming, [the Russos] are like, ‘You’re in control of your character. If there are things you think we missed, please participate, please say,’” recalled Olsen.

The collaborative atmosphere was refreshing for Bettany, “They really want you to be a collaborator and it’s great. There’s a huge upside for that. For [the Russos], when you’re dealing with so many characters and actors to have two of them, and it’s brilliant because you can play one off against the other.”

The openness in creativity helped Bettany have a better understanding of his character, “The success of the Marvel films comes from the fact that they’re made by fans. They really love those characters. When I first came out dressed as Vision, Kevin Feige nearly cried. I didn’t grow up reading comics but they make you fall in love with your character. They really do. Their love for these stories is really infectious and you become really invested, and there’s a lot of invested people beyond the financials of it all.” Bettany emphasized the positivity that came with the love of the comics, “They really want to do a good job, and I think fans really trust that if they bend things that they’re in safe hands — that the story is in safe hands because I guarantee you it’s made by geeks. This movie is made by geeks. They love them, they feel it when they’re talking about it.”

“Captain America: Civil War” changed everything and “Infinity War” is putting the pieces back together both in the physical team and in the emotional state of the heroes. Olsen believes Vision and Scarlet Witch have a grounded relationship that helps to spur on their fight, “I think in a different way not so much about the last movie and their own sagas, but this is definitely the most emotional arc I’ve done in an Avenger film, that’s for sure.”

“The cost and the danger that we’re all facing becomes more important than certain beef that people had in the past because it’s so desperate,” explained Bettany. “The point of the Avengers, and by extension mankind, it’s fraught with danger. Old grudges are buried and put off until next time.”

Vision is constantly trying to understand the human mind and Scarlet Witch is there to show him the way. Olsen describes how the couple’s dynamic makes scenes more fun, “You have something really specific to work with all the time. And that feels nice. There’s like an anchor point to everything, which is what you’re constantly looking for when you’re doing these movies. What anchors you to a grounded reality? And you have that throughout the whole film. You have your partner, your life partner with you by your side, and that creates a different kind of stakes, as well.”

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on April 27. Get tickets on Fandango now! Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Marvel screenwriters on creating the Mad Titan's emotional story in 'Avengers: Infinity War.'

There is no denying the epic scale and insane ambition of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has everyone celebrating Marvel Studios’ 10th anniversary. Everything Earth’s mightiest heroes have fought for in the previous 18 films has led up to this moment — protecting the fate of the world and its existence from Thanos in Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The antagonist of “Infinity War” has been pulling the strings throughout the MCU since “The Avengers.” Besides shopping around the galaxy for Infinity Stones, not much is known about Thanos outside of the glimpses we’ve seen here and there. Marvel screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely rose to the challenge of balancing the ensemble and bringing this “epic level of storytelling” required to “surprise the hell out of people.” Make no mistake, according to McFeely, this is “Thanos’ movie.”

Last summer, Marvel.com made the trek out to Pinewood Studios to visit the set of “Avengers: Infinity War.” We’ve talked to Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, the Russo Brothers, and Danai Gurira. Markus and McFeely teamed up with directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War.” The team has assembled again to take on the Mad Titan in “Avengers: Infinity War” and the fourth untitled “Avengers” film. During the set visit, the screenwriters shared how they made Thanos, an “amoral philosopher” in their eyes, the emotional center of the film, the “strange alchemy” of “Infinity War,” and more.

Thanos does not see himself as the Big Bad of his story. “Villain is a derogatory term that Thanos wouldn’t agree with,” said Markus. In fact, Markus hopes you come away from “Infinity War” the same way you do with the publishing source material, “where you go, ‘I can’t say he was wrong.'” He stands in a category all his own. Adding, “Weirdly, he’s the most understandable guy in the movie sometimes.”

The writers borrowed from Jim Starlin in portraying Thanos as an “amoral philosopher.” They wanted an antagonist that doesn’t just “want to kill somebody” or “take over the world because it seems like a fun thing to do” because “that guy isn’t very interesting; he’s pathetic.” That approach doesn’t marry well with character who knows what he wants and carries emotional weight that can go toe-to-toe with any of the Avengers.

“He’s not the Devil – although he does sometimes have the Devil standing next to him. We wanted that all the way through,” revealed Markus. “To have a villain with understandable motivations and emotions. Thanos has family. Thanos has two daughters that we know of. Thanos has 8 million back stories in the comics, but they’re all kind of sad.”

The writers placed a lot of care in developing Thanos, a man worthy of driving “Infinity War” and bringing all of the Avengers and their allies together. One can compare Thanos to two other Marvel antagonists – Loki and Kilgrave. Yes, they are “creepy and awful,” but they “really care in a strange way.” Everyone has weird family relationships. McFeely drove the point home that Thanos does not see himself as the villain because he believes what he’s doing is right, “[Thanos’] got daughters that he clearly has to deal with.”

“The bad guy tends to be a foil for the development of the hero, and that’s not the case here,” added McFeely. “If anything, it’s the opposite. Our heroes are the foils for the villain, whose story we need to tell at large.”

We learned that the Mad Titan isn’t driven by the Infinity Stones alone. Anthony Russo previously commented how everything in “Infinity War” had to be character-based, an approach that extends to Markus and McFeely. “Every time you collect one, it can’t just be a check mark,” stressed McFeely. “It has to do something characterful. It’s got to move the plot forward, but it also has to have stakes and costs…so that it’s not just a shopping spree. We’re going to wrench some emotion out of each and every one of those moments that we can.”

A big focus of “Avengers: Infinity War” Markus shared, “All the way along the line we wanted to give people choices and make them continue to have to sacrifice this decision for this decision.” What motivates Thanos’ hunger to collect these stones and at what costs to get what he wants, we’ll have to wait until April 27 to find out.

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on April 27. Get tickets on Fandango now! Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Get a glimpse on the storytelling elements from balancing tones to collaborations and more.

How do you approach the behemoth that is Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” — a film with ten years of baggage with different storylines, different visions, different tones, to honor? How does a storyteller divide screen time among  40+ major players who are at different stages of their journeys and continue to engage and surprise viewers? The challenge and weight of what this film means to many is not lost on “Avengers: Infinity War” directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.

As we continue unveiling everything we learned during last summer’s set visit, we couldn’t think of two better people to get a look at the magnitude of the biggest cinematic production ever assembled than those who are helming the film — the Russo Brothers. Not only were the Russos tackling “Avengers: Infinity War” and the untitled fourth “Avengers” film simultaneously, they had to contend with the finishing of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and Taika Watiti’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” with the concurrent production of Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” start of Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and planning for “Captain Marvel.”

The Russos entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as storytellers with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” joined by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The team went on to tackle higher stakes with “Captain America: Civil War.” Not to be outdone, they’re now tackling 20-some heroes, multiple locations, six Infinity Stones, and the baddest/most powerful villain our heroes have ever encountered—Thanos, with the next “Avengers” installment. The Brothers shared insight on their approach to the characters, the complications of putting together a project of this scale, and dropped some insights during our intimate set visit.

[Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.]

How “Avengers: Infinity War” Kicks Off

“Avengers: Infinity War” is two years following “Captain America: Civil War.” According to Anthony, “Infinity War” is a “direct corollary to the end of ‘Civil War,’ and our heroes will be heading into this film “with the ramifications of that film at the forefront of this film.”

Continuing, “[‘Infinity War’] is very much about how we move forward from ‘Civil War’ in a big way, and what happens to that division between the Avengers and how does that affect them. What does that mean when the greatest threat they’ll ever face comes to them.”

Despite the two years following “Civil War,” the Russo Brothers have a storytelling philosophy where make sure to “keep any big moments of the characters’ lives on camera.”

We know Cap’s team of Avengers find their way to Wakanda seeking aid from King T’Challa. Joe explained the fortified country is the most “logical place for anyone seeking refuge.”

Meanwhile, Tony Stark has to deal with the consequences of his choice to side with the Sokovia Accords. Our directors haven’t forgotten young Peter Parker. “They basically have a unique mentor/mentee relationship that continues to evolve as they move into this film,” shared Anthony.

With the Guardians, the directors acknowledged the film picks up 5-6 years following “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” The Guardians have had a chance to deepen their relationships with each other where the Avengers haven’t had that chance.

“They’re closer, and they’re tighter, and they’ve been doing it for a while,” said Anthony. “They’ve cemented their chemistry as a team. And they would stand in contrast with the other teams. Potentially.”

They’re thrilled at the chance to take on Thor and lean into his profound experience during “Thor: Ragnarok.” As for Hawkeye, the Russos confirmed he’s on his own journey in this film.

The Directors’ Approach to the Tone and Characters, and their Collaboration with Past Filmmakers

“It’s been a personal journey for us as filmmakers from ‘Winter Soldier,’ of a theme set in that movie that we then tried to expand upon in ‘Civil War,’ that then led to Infinity War,” shared Joe Russo. “It’s how we feel about the characters, as comic book fans, the story that we want to see.”

“It’s not only a culmination of the last ten years of Marvel storytelling, but for us, it’s a culmination of our journey as directors to the Marvel Universe,” added Joe. “Having at our disposal all of those characters and allowing ourselves to re-filter them through the way that we see the universe, the way that we feel about the characters, the themes that we really want to bring to the forefront, that’s what these two movies are for us.”

“Everything’s always got to be character based,” proclaimed Anthony. “If we’re sitting in the editing room, watch the sequences for more than 20 seconds without a character having a point of view or moving the action forward, my brain just shuts down. The action for us, it’s always character based.”

In addition to screenwriters Markus and McFeely, the Russos credited the team there were able to work with the past films, including effects supervisor Dan Deleeuw, editor Jeff Ford, DP Trent Opaloch, and stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, to achieving the complex and ambitious nature of “Infinity War.”

It was important for the Russos to honor the journeys and approach the other MCU filmmakers took their characters on, but also make it work with the film they were creating. As Joe explained, the “Russo Brothers-execution” was filtering what others have done “through our very personal expression of them as characters.” Anthony acknowledged, “Everyone is interwoven in this plot in a way where they have an emotional connection to the story…. You can’t tell a movie with this many characters and not have each of those characters show up and honor them from the different franchises if they are not motivated to be there. If there are not in life or death circumstances. If they are not fighting to save their belief system or way of life.”

The Russos equated the MCU process as similar to how comic book stories evolve and involve several comic creators. “[We] found repeatedly that the best and only way for us to move forward is to receive that information, and keep what we like, and explore what we like, and exploit what we like, and tell the story that we want to tell. The same way you do in a comic run when you’re reading it, you go, ‘I want to see someone else’s point-of-view on that.’ That’s what Marvel’s done really well, bringing in a lot of different voices to execute the films.”

It’s safe to say everyone in the Marvel Universe had been involved. During the preparation and production of the third and fourth “Avengers” films, the Russos had the opportunity to collaborate closely with James Gunn, Taika Waititi, Scott Derrickson, Peyton Reed, Ryan Coogler, and producer Nate Moore. With the Marvel Universe progressing in different courses simultaneously and at the time, not yet completed, the Russos adopted a “real collaborative united artists approach” to ensure they were sensitive to the other stories and sharing those elements.

The Sources and Influences

Mark Ruffalo previously alluded to how THE INFINITY GAUNTLET informed the film, but there are clear deviations. Joe further elaborated on the comics source: “Certainly the Starlin book was our jumping off point. It’s a brilliant comic, and the ideas behind it are so large, it’s what pushed us to go for the scale that we’re going for on these movies.”

Joe continuing, “Anth and I love the post-modern comics. We’re also drawing from newer INFINITY stuff, and we’re kind of combining it all into…how do we see elements from each helping the story that we want to tell.”

In addition, the Russos were inspired by ensemble 90s crime films, and the two films that they look to for inspiration in relation to narrative imagery were “Two Days in the Valley” and “Out of Sight.”

“These movies are so complex you need a unifying peace, or a sense of cohesion, and that cohesion can come from a narrative construct that you can apply all the characters to,” explained Joe Russo.

Thanos (Josh Brolin)

Thanos

True Believers, you’ve never seen a more formidable antagonist in the MCU like the Mad Titan, and he’s on a destructive mission to collect all the Infinity Stones no matter the stakes.

“This movie is catalyzed by Thanos’ decision and an opportunity for him to make a very aggressive move for the stones, a more effective move for the stones than he has ever in the past,” revealed Anthony. “When Thanos decides to do it, he really goes for it. He’s one step ahead of our heroes through the movie and he puts them through a lot of pain in the process.”

“Our job with Thanos is to make him the preeminent villain in the Marvel Universe,” added Joe. “In order to be a preeminent villain, you have to do some pretty bad things.”

The Russos stressed that the Infinity Stones are the “bedrock of the film” — “the key driver.”

Prepare Your Hearts

On the subject of Thanos, several of our heroes wield/guard the Infinity Stones putting them in directly in the path of Thanos, elevating the emotional weight. When asked about the invincibility of our heroes, Joe quickly teased, “I’m sorry.”

Acknowledging that every character is someone’s favorite character, Anthony explained, “We like mature storytelling. We like dramatic storytelling. We like intense storytelling. We appreciate conflict, and we appreciate stakes. And without stakes, there really isn’t a lot of value to the story. If you look at the Marvel Universe as a whole, as a story that’s been told for 10 years, you can look at [‘Infinity War’] as the climax. The stakes will be higher in this movie than they’ve ever been, times ten.”

Once the dust settles, we can expect the Avengers to see major casualties as they protect the universe and all of existence from Thanos.

Topping the “Civil War” Airport Fight Scene

“We have an equivalent that’s like if you had a comic book, and you open it up to your double panel, and then you fold it out. And then you fold it out again and again,” said Joe Russo.

Anthony Russo adding, “And you have another comic book laid out next to it.” “So we have the equivalent of that in this movie,” continued Joe Russo.

Hinting at the Untitled Fourth “Avengers” Film

The Brothers on the new challenge of shooting two MCU films at the same time: “Our approach has always been how we look at the project. It’s simply the same thing in the way that the ‘Winter Soldier’ related to ‘Civil War,’ and the way that ‘Civil War’ relates to ‘Infinity War.’ These two movies will also relate…but at the same time, there’s an independence in terms of what the experience is or where the story goes. It isn’t a true two-parter…. It ended up being more of two singular expressions.”

“We always try to make each film different so they don’t get repetitive,” said Joe. “This kind of serialized storytelling…. You have to keep evolving who’s at the forefront, how you’re laying the story out because rigor mortis will set in very quickly. Each character…can shape and color and re-tone an entire film depending on who you’re following. We find them as exciting as complex and inspiring and heartbreaking, and we believe that there are real emotional stakes. This is exactly the kind of movies we aspire to and exactly the kind of movies we look for as film goers in a theater.”

It’s safe to say that we’ve never seen anything like “Avengers: Infinity War.” Closing out the visit, Joe remarked, “If you were to think of the Marvel Universe over the last ten years of the book, this is the ending of the book. There may be new books written, but this is certainly the ending of this book.”

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on April 27. Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Avengers Academy 2.0 brings massive combat, story, and character changes

We’re coming up on the second anniversary for “Marvel Avengers Academy”! The fan-favorite game has continued to add new characters and build an amazing story over these two years, but one mystery has yet to be uncovered. What is up with that timefog? What is Fury hiding? Why does he have an Infinity Gauntlet? Who is that Thanos guy the Guardians keep talking about? Well, now’s the time to get some answers.

Along with this new story content, there are some major changes coming to the game. Combat, questions, hero outfits, and much more are seeing overhauls. We sat down with Allen Warner – Senior Narrative Designer at TinyCo – for an expansive interview about all the changes and new features we’ll see when Avengers Academy 2.0 launches soon. 

Marvel.com: First, let’s talk big changes. Combat has been a key component of most major Avengers Academy events, and now it’s being overhauled. How will players take the fight to the many Marvel villains they’ll face going forward?

Allen Warner: There are a lot of big changes coming to the game, but none bigger than the way players interact with combat. We really wanted to make combat more interactive and strategic to make the entire experience more fun, immersive, and rewarding for players. You’ll now have more control over giving yourself the best chance to succeed by getting to choose your team of heroes from a larger roster, choosing their alignment based on their unique abilities and class, and by choosing their individual actions and attacks. Heroes will also have individual health bars, so your team will be able to keep fighting if one of your heroes goes down. All of this will be supported by a robust hero management system, new combat animations for every hero, tons of new combat environments, and new villains to fight.

Marvel.com: So combat will now be used outside of events?

Allen Warner: Yes, there will be new quests, maps, and characters added to the main game, and combat will be a big part of the overall experience. The faculty is preparing for war against Thanos, the imprisoned villains are on the verge of activating their master plan, and the students are getting closer to uncovering the mysteries behind what Nick Fury keeps in his underground vaults, and how their universe came into existence. They’ll have to fight their way through Thanos and his forces to get those answers.

Marvel.com: Speaking of the Academy students and faculty, how do the other ways we interact with them change in 2.0?

Allen Warner: Hero management will be a major part of the revamped Avengers Academy experience. From a gameplay perspective, heroes will feel more unique with new special abilities, classes, and animations. We really wanted to streamline the process of upgrading and ranking up heroes, so there will be fewer rank-up items to collect, and players will have more control over who they want to rank up, making ranking up a specific hero easier. Unlike the current game, upgrading your hero’s combat stats persists after an event is over, and can be used in the main game and future events.

Marvel.com: This is massive! Now, players have been asking for a while to see their favorite event and late-game heroes suit up in new outfits. Is there any chance we’ll see this here?

Allen Warner: Yes, this is another huge change. We’ve always relied on the first few heroes in the game for new outfits because we wanted to make sure that new players would be able to acquire and enjoy those outfits, but the revamped structure allows us to give outfits to a wider variety of characters. I love Iron Man, Wasp, Loki, Black Widow, and Falcon, but they’ve had their share of awesome outfits, and it’s time for the rest of the team to have a chance. We’ll be focusing on heroes who’ve had zero to few alternative looks to this point, which is really exciting. You can expect to see new outfits for Black Panther, Vision, Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, and many, many more in the coming months.

Marvel.com: Along with these cosmetic dreams, fans of the game have been hoping for the next zone of the timefog to open up and for more main story quests to be added. Can you share anything new on this front?

Allen Warner: We’ve talked about it, and are continuing to talk about it, but this one is a little more complicated. The issue is that when we open a new zone, it creates more space for characters, decorations, and buildings, which makes the game more difficult to run on older devices. We don’t want to exclude our players with older devices that wouldn’t be able to run the game properly, so we’re actively working on a solution. I definitely understand the frustration. Players have earned a bunch of awesome decorations and buildings that they want to showcase, but have to keep them in storage because they don’t have enough space. I’m hopeful that we’ll figure something out soon.

Marvel.com: The story of Avengers Academy has arguably been building to this point since launch. What can you tell us about the next act and everything in store for our heroes, Thanos, and the Academy universe at large?

Allen Warner: Yeah, the first thing I ever wrote for this game was the story of how this universe was created, and we’re finally getting to the point where that story can be told, which is really exciting. I don’t want to give too much away, but we know that the faculty has been aware of Thanos from the beginning. They’ve met before, and it didn’t go well for the Avengers. We know that Nick Fury is hiding artifacts, weapons, and possibly even heroes and villains in his secret underground vaults. His second Infinity Gauntlet is a clue to how powerful some of these things might be. We know that Mephisto, Hela, Madame Gao, and the rest of the imprisoned villains are plotting something, and that somehow they’ve been able to contact Thanos, who most likely orchestrated their plan from the beginning. We also know that there’s a mole on campus. Someone who every hero trusts is either betraying their fellow Avengers, or isn’t who we think they are. Maybe both. Lastly, we know that Thanos is coming. His arrival will set all of these things in motion, and eventually answer all of these questions, while spinning this world into a wild new direction.

Marvel.com: Will the structure of missions or quests change as this new content is introduced?

Allen Warner: Missions are changing drastically, and I think it will create a much better experience for the player. The new Mission Board is more streamlined and organized to give players more agency, and better suit their style and needs. If they’re only interested in completing story missions, they can focus on those. If they only want to gather items to upgrade a specific hero, they can do that too. It will be easier for players to get what they’re most interested in getting, so the overall experience will be more suited to their play style, and focusing on what they enjoy most in the game.

Marvel.com: Along with Thanos’s impending arrival, Voyager is coming to campus! The hero – recently created by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub, and Pepe Larraz for “Avengers: No Surrender” – makes her Marvel Games debut here. How does she come to join the Academy?

Allen Warner: Yeah, this is really exciting. I always think it’s so cool when we can bring a character from the comics to games for the first time, and Voyager is an awesome hero who’s a great fit for our world. I don’t want to give away too much about how she’s involved yet, but in the books, she’s a character from a different place and time, and our world is filled with alternate universes and time anomalies, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to find her way here. Her visual ranks and animations are really cool, and I think people are going to love adding her to the team.

Voyager

Marvel.com: How can players add her to their Academy roster?

Allen Warner: Voyager will be a log-in bonus character, so everyone will be able to get her just by logging in each day during the time she’s available. The more you log in during that period of time, the stronger your Voyager will be when she enters the campus. There are even more perks for Marvel Insiders.

Marvel.com: What does the Marvel Insider integration mean for Avengers Academy players? How can they join the program?

Allen Warner: If you’re a Marvel Insider, or decide to become an Insider, and you submit your Avengers Academy game ID through the site, you’ll automatically get Insider points. If you recruit Voyager in the given time period, you’ll get even more Insider points. Anyone with Marvel Insider points can use them to purchase a special Voyager in-game trophy that generates upgrade items.

Marvel.com: There’s a whole lot of new stuff coming to campus. Will we also see new main buildings and locations?

Allen Warner: There will be a new upgradeable building Nick Fury places on campus to help train the heroes and protect the school from Thanos’s inevitable attack, and there will be a ton of new locations for your heroes to travel and fight various villains and factions across the globe and beyond.

Marvel.com: With all these changes, a lot of current materials and mechanics are changing. What will this mean for existing players – both recent and longtime?

Allen Warner: Existing players will keep everything they’ve earned, and will be given a proportional amount of the new upgrade materials for all of the rank-ups they have in the current game. This revamped version of Avengers Academy is a new experience, and we believe a better experience, but it will still be very familiar to our existing players, and if you enjoy it now, we hope you’ll enjoy the new experience even more.

Marvel.com: What are you most excited to share with players as 2.0 officially launches?

Allen Warner: I’m excited about all of the opportunities for new stories, outfits, characters, locales, and an experience that gives players more control to play the game they want to play it, and focus on the parts of the game that they find the most fun. It feels like an evolution of the original game, and I’m excited to see where it goes, while putting the bow on some long-running storylines, and spinning up some new ones.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about this humongous new update?

Allen Warner: I just hope everyone enjoys the new experience, and I can wait for everyone to see all of the cool new things we have in store!

For all the latest news and updates on “Marvel Avengers Academy,” visit Marvel.com and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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This summer, an entire universe. Once and for all.

Tonight, during the Big Game, we got another glimpse of the highly-anticipated Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War.’ Check it out above!

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on May 4. Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Donny Cates takes us to the end of the line, a future where Thanos has finally won!

When writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw took over the Mad Titan’s solo adventures in THANOS #13, they came out of the gate guns blazing! With their new arc “Thanos Wins,” Thanos is whisked away to the future by a mysterious new character called The Rider, a cosmic baddie who very closely resembles a certain other flame headed denizen of Mephisto. But when Thanos arrives to this future, he meets The Rider’s boss, a future version of himself!

We caught up with Donny to talk about the future and getting so deep into Thanos’ head it gave him literal nightmares.

Marvel.com: Once you found out you would be taking over this solo title, what was your entry point into Thanos’ psyche?

Donny Cates: I’ve been a huge fan of the cosmic side of Marvel since I was a very young lad and Thanos, in particular, has always been one of my favorite characters. There’s really no way that Jordan White, our editor, could have known that! He’s such a complicated character, even though he’s sometimes written off as being one note. As far as getting into the character, you know how every Marvel book, on the title page, has that little blurb describing who the main character is? For Spider-Man, it always says, “Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, blah blah blah,” right? Well, for any of the THANOS solo issues, it just says, “A total obsession with power drives him to control the forces of the universe.”

He’s had different seats of power. He’s been a ruler, a despot. But at the end of the day, what does he really want? And what happens when he finally gets it? That’s what everything bloomed out of, reading that one sentence description of him and saying let’s just do it! Let’s just finish that sentence that begins every Thanos issue. Let’s give it to him and see what happens then.

Marvel.com: The premise of ‘Thanos Wins’ is wrapped up in time travel and the future inevitability of the Mad Titan finally getting what he wants. How in depth into his victory do you plan to go and how is seeing this potential future going to change Thanos?

Donny Cates: We’re going to get way into it, man! Every single issue in the arc flashes back and forward and moves around in time a lot. As the series goes along, you will get a complete picture of how Thanos came to be where he is at the end of issue #13, where we see him clothed in immense power, with his companion and right hand man, The Rider, seemingly the only thing left alive. That’s not something we’re doing as a cheap, one page gag. That’s the whole series. Really getting to the bottom of how Thanos goes from destroying the Chitauri at the beginning of issue #13, to what we call King Thanos, will be spelled out in great detail in the next few issues.

THANOS #14 has a lot and it is unbelievable. You know, I write these issues and I turn them in, get some notes and then when the art comes back with the words and colors and everything, I get to re-read them again months later. Every single time a new issue comes in, I read it and think, “They’re really letting me do that? They’re going to let me get away with this?” I’m consistently blown away with just how out there and crazy we’re going.

It’s a huge credit to Jordan White, who believed in this and got behind it to say this is what a Thanos book should be. Every issue should just be as hard as it can be.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Thanos’ future Ghost Rider friend? What was the genesis of that idea?

Donny Cates: The Rider, as a character, is one of those back pocket ideas I think every writer who wants to someday write for a big comics publisher has. Something you fill up a notebook with, or, if you’re like me, use the notes app on your phone and just fill it to the brim with crazy stuff. The Rider, his origins, and who he really is has been in my back pocket for years. I actually spoke with an editor at Marvel back in 2013 or 2014 at New York Comic-Con and he asked what I’d want to do at Marvel. I told him about The Rider, this cosmic Ghost Rider, and I told him who he really is and how I’d reveal it. I remember that editor saying that’s insane, the craziest thing he’d ever heard. So, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

He became a natural fit for this story. I knew we wanted Young Thanos, well young comparatively speaking to King Thanos, to be ripped from time and taken to meet his future self. When I was working on the pitch, I tried to figure out who could fill that role and realized The Rider was a perfect fit! Then, when I started writing him, how he speaks and how he sounds formed this little balancing point to how overly somber Thanos as a character can be. The two vibrate with each other in a way I really enjoyed. He’s the rare character who can actually call Thanos out on how much of a bummer he is, especially when he’s with both Thanoses.

For anyone who has theories about who The Rider is, I would like to hear them. It’s the big reveal at the end of this arc. So, anyone who wants to comment on Twitter or put their theories in, I won’t confirm or deny anything, but please tag it as #WhoIsTheRider and let me know what you think!

Marvel.com: What’s your process like with artist Geoff Shaw? Since you two have a rapport, does that make creating the book easier?

Donny Cates: I’ve been on THANOS longer than STRANGE, so coming onto my first big Marvel book with Geoff, there is the most supportive feeling, the most comfortable feeling. I know how to write for him and he knows how to draw for me. He really knows how to pull certain stuff out of my scripts. We’ve been working together for five years now, starting with “Buzzkill” back in the day. Over the years, just by virtue of working so closely, we’ve come best friends. Going into something where Marvel gives you the keys to the kingdom and lets you play with all the toys, getting into that with your best friend, who is also this phenomenal talent, is surreal and I couldn’t ask for a better collaborator.

With some artists, you’re not able to build the same rapport or talk to them regularly, because you’ve just been thrown together or they’re in Argentina or something, but Geoff and I talk all the time. That’s the essence of comics to me, is getting on the phone or in the same room and just hashing it out. The same goes for Antonio Fabela, our colorist. Geoff and I had never worked with him before but were excited to see what he could do. It felt like he walked right onto the team, read the room and could match the insanity we were throwing down. Letterer Clayton Cowles, too! He’s added so much, differentiating Thanos and King Thanos in speech bubbles. It’s like we’re all jamming on the same frequency.

Marvel.com: You’ve said that writing Thanos has been a scary experience. What’s the darkest place getting into his head has taken your own mind?

Donny Cates: I had said in a previous interview that I had nightmares about Thanos when I first started writing the book. I think most people thought I was exaggerating or joking, but I was not. I tend to get really obsessive about a character when I first start on a book. I don’t stay that way. My wife makes fun of me all the time for it. On THANOS, I was deep in it—unconsciously changing the way I spoke, or sitting in chairs the way Thanos might sit. I was in a dark place and had a nightmare where I was being chased by Thanos through a desert landscape. I could only hear his footsteps, feel the ground shake and sense his breathing. One of those dreams where you try to run and you can’t. It was really scary!

I woke up covered in sweat and I’m not a person who has nightmares. I think that people, as they read this first arc, anyone who thought I was kidding about that or made fun of me for it is going to see what I’m talking about. This book is brutal and intense. 

Catch the next chapter of “Thanos Wins” in THANOS #14, from Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, on December 27!

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In theaters May 4.

There was an idea…

The first official trailer for Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” has finally arrived. We began our Marvel Cinematic Universe journey together back in 2008. All roads lead to Thanos next year. Get your first official look at “Avengers: Infinity War” right here on Marvel.com above.

Following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” the Avengers as we know it no longer exists. Lines were drawn; sides were chosen. The Avengers is nothing more than a team name without any team members. Can Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put aside their differences and unite once more? Do they even stand a chance against the Mad Titan who delights in their failure and desperation? Can they stop his thirst for power and chaos as he begins to collect the Infinity Stones?

The trailer packs as many super heroes as it can in a mere 2 minutes and 30 seconds: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Vision (Paul Bettany), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and so much more.

“You can fight it. You can run from it. But destiny still arrives.” We know the trailer brought a smile to your face as much as pain and suffering put one on Thanos’ face. Now excuse us while we watch the trailer a thousand more times!

See the culmination of the last decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when “Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on May 4, 2018. Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers and the rest of the MCU as it develops!

 

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Artist Geoff Shaw promises a Marvel Universe like you’ve never seen!

Every villain in history has wanted something. That ultimate goal or triumph that the heroes we know and love tend to get in the way of. But what happens if one of them wins? That’s the story that the new THANOS creative team of writer Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw will explore this fall. The duo threatens to do what no one else ever has: let the Mad Titan achieve ultimate victory! However, to see what happens when the Death-obsessed warrior does next you’ll have to check out the new run starting with THANOS #13 on November 22.

We talked with Shaw about working with longtime friend Cates, rooting for the bad guy, and offering up sights previously unseen!

Marvel.com: How does it feel to begin your Marvel art career drawing one of the most dangerous villains in the universe?

Geoff Shaw: It’s unbelievable! Marvel has always been my dream job, and to start things off with their flagship villain is a surreal honor. I may need to be pinched.

Marvel.com: As an artist, what is it about Thanos as a character that intrigues you?

Geoff Shaw: There’s something really exciting and challenging about drawing a villain over say, a super hero. On the one hand, you want to root for him; after all, I think everyone has fantasized about being the bad guy. As an artist, you really get to act out these characters to bring them to life, so it’s been fun to jump into his boots.

At the same time he’s the main character, and in a weird way you need to identify with and root for him, and there I think there is a depth to him that is endearing, albeit very disturbing.

Marvel.com: With a character as powerful as Thanos, is it difficult coming up with designs for characters or elements that will actually challenge and threaten him?

Geoff Shaw: Threatening for Thanos? That’s a very short to-do list! [This story] is called “Thanos Triumphant” after all.

Marvel.com: You and Donny have worked together a number of times. How has your collaborative relationship evolved in that time?

Geoff Shaw: Aside from [Donny] being one of my best friends, creatively we share a very similar sensibility for storytelling and a strong love for character. Between the script and page, the process is very fluid. I’ve always loved Donny’s writing and he really trusts my eye for the page. That creative comfort has only grown over time. Also, I think we both really love and believe in the stories we tell, so that makes all the difference.

Marvel.com: It looks like THANOS will deal with a lot of darkness both in color and tone. How is it dealing with all that on the page?

Geoff Shaw: A terrifying blast! Thanos does bring with him a darkness that we dive head first into. It’s flat out brutal! That said, there is a surprising amount of fun here too.

We take Thanos to some insane places—places I never thought in a million years I would see, let alone get to draw! This is the Marvel Universe after all, but it’s like you’ve never seen it before.

Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw explore the Mad Titan’s victory march starting with THANOS #13 on November 22.

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New series writer Donny Cates dives into Marvel Legacy!

On November 22, the bad guy wins.

Marvel Legacy gets a taste of unrepentant villainy as the Mad Titan consolidates his power and threatens the Marvel Universe like never before in THANOS #13!

A dynamo new creative duo—writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw—take over the book, which kicks off with an arc ominously titled “Thanos Wins.” And when Thanos wins, a lot of other people lose…

We spoke with Donny to get a clearer picture of the coming threat.

Marvel.com: We know that Thanos has an obsession with Death—but other than a fascination with the macabre, what makes the Mad Titan tick?

Donny Cates: Well, that’s something that we’ll be really diving into in this first arc. I’ve said in past interviews that I oddly (and perhaps worryingly) relate to the Mad Titan. And I think it comes down to his insane drive. I can relate to that (I’m writing like eight books right now) in a very real way. This idea that no matter how high Thanos climbs, it will never be enough for him. He’s searching for something he will never find. I think there’s something quite pretty about that.

In an evil murderous way, of course.

Marvel.com: How would Thanos describe his own legacy?

Donny Cates: Thanos has a very singular drive, right? He just wants her. So I don’t know that he necessarily thinks about how he’ll be remembered, you know? In his ideal world, everyone else is dead. So I think Thanos spends little time fretting over his legacy.

Marvel.com: The words “Thanos Wins” can’t be good for everyone. What will those two words mean for the Marvel Universe?

Donny Cates: I’ll say this: as bad as you think it might be for your favorite characters, you can’t imagine how horrific it’s really going to be. This isn’t a very nice book. I mean, its super fun…but yeah, don’t read it late at night. It has been by far the most brutal thing I’ve ever written. It gave me nightmares.

Marvel.com: Will Thanos be he making any allies to achieve his goals?

Donny Cates: There will be one ally that I think people will get a kick out of. He’s this cosmic lunatic with a flaming skull and a super rad space motorcycle. He’s my favorite character of all time. He’s very…mysterious. I look forward to people trying to figure out who he really is.

I can’t wait for this book to actually come out so I can answer your questions honestly! [Laughs] This book has been so much fun, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written, and I want to talk about it so bad, but, alas…

Marvel.com: Last question: would you describe Thanos as misunderstood or just totally insane?

Donny Cates: Yes.

Join Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw for THANOS #13 on November 22!

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