It’s A MARVELous World

By Julie, cold but cozy in Somerville

As I confessed in the comments when Jessie asked “To Binge or Not To Binge“, I am a Marvel fan. Movies and TV. Iron Man. Captain America. Thor. Agents of Shield. Agent Carter. The Avengers.

I am late to discovering this universe, and often need to be brought up to speed on backstory. A simple Facebook post asking “what is Captain America’s shield made of and why don’t they just shoot his ankles” brought forth several explanatory comments, including some citatations to different articles and explanations. There is an entire Marvel Encyclopedia. I am tempted.

Aside from the visceral thrill of super hero movies, these movies and TV shows are a great learning tool for me as a writer. Here’s what the Marvel world has taught me:

  • The best characters are complicated. The good guys are good guys, but they have struggles. Some of them walk a fine line, but usually end up on the right side.
  • You can create your own universe, but you still need to follow the rules you set up. Go outside the construct without explanation,and there needs to be a good reason, or reprecussions.
  • Story arcs are important. Apparently, the Marvel world of films has three phases. Each movie stands on its own, but knowing the other films helps inform the experience tremendously. The TV shows interweave with the movies. It all, surprisingly, makes sense. Also, threads are left hanging, to be resolved (or not) later.
  • The stories are well plotted. Each film is a little different, depending on the character, the screenplay, and the director. But they all move along at a satisfying clip.
  • The ride is thrilling. That is tougher to pull off in a book, but not impossible.
  • There is humor. Humor helps a lot.

Pulling all of this off, at this scale, is no small feat. It has been done before (any Babylon 5 fans out there?) and will be done again. Certainly a cozy series can’t have a visit by Captain America, but maybe it can be elevated by using a little Asgardian power plotting, a Stark Heart, Black Widow moves, and Avenger’s magic.

In fact, Marvel movies remind me a lot of cozy series (familiar characters, compelling stories, consistent settings) without the superpowers.

But don’t be surprised if Ruth Clagan (the protaganist in my series) wears a cape at some point.

Have any of you watched Agent Carter yet? I am greatly enjoying it!

26 Thoughts

  1. Nooooo… I haven’t even heard of Agent Carter! You’d think! Is it a TV show? Sheesh…

  2. Julie, I love all things Marvel. I think the plotting and storytelling in the films/TV shows is some of the best I’ve ever seen for all the reasons you cite. We are loving Agent Carter – I especially loved the line from Jarvis last night: “They won’t respect you. They’ll use it to tear you down.” How true of the times and situation! I am really looking forward to the next Avengers movie (of course, I’m a die-hard Joss Whedon fan – I don’t think anybody does an ensemble cast better). Just rewatched “Firefly” over the holidays; how I wish that series had continued. And yes, we’ve seen Babylon 5 more times that we can count. We own the entire series on DVD and watch annually.

      1. You absolutely must watch Firefly. Only 14 or so episodes. A good one for binge-watching two or three at a time. I love that show.

        “I aim to misbehave.”

  3. Just watched the first two episodes of Agent Carter last night. They’re available from Comcast On Demand. I love the 40s atmosphere and strong female lead; quick, smooth pace and humor. Refreshingly fun!

  4. True confessions time: I came to the Marvel world via Joss Whedon (the genius behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse and a black and white film version of Much Ado About Nothing featuring Nathan Fillion as Dogberry) when he wrote and directed The Avengers. The first time I watched the movie, it didn’t entirely work for me. It took me awhile to figure out why: I didn’t have the background. Fortunately, just about then, one of the networks, probably FX, was running Thor, Captain America, and the Iron Man movies. Once I caught up with the Marvel universe, and then started watching Agents of Shield, I was hooked. Agent Carter is growing on me (I liked this week’s episode better than the first two).

    1. I am not as familiar with the rest of Joss Whedon’s oeuvre, and I need to get there. I do like his work in Marvel, but I also thought the last Captain America was wonderful. Agent Carter does feel like slower storytelling, but I am loving it. Maybe we need to have a Marvel moment at Malice!

  5. The only Marvel thing I have seen is Agent Carter, which I love! Jarvis is adorable (James D’Arcy was a wonderful Nicholas Nickleby long ago) but I’m mostly enthralled by how they are portraying Agent Carter’s treatment as a female agent by her peers. The next time one of those mooks hands her a manila folder to file, I hope she decapitates him with it!

  6. I’m not a Marvel fan, though I’m closely related to three of them-my husband, son and daughter-in-law, though all are very picky about quality of the depictions.

    One thing I wish the cozy world would borrow from the comic book world is crossovers. I would love for Julia to solve a Maine-based maple syrup mystery with Dani, or call Sarah up to help with a big yard sale. Julia’s off to Connecticut following a clue in book four, maybe she’ll run into Stan? Or maybe Julia’s old venture capital firm underwrote the software company that laid Cam Flaherty off at the start of Edith’s series. That meeting could be embarrassing–and full of dramatic tension! Or since I’m here in Key West, maybe Julia can come here in book five to get out of the winter cold and run into Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow?

    1. Dani has a very bit part in FARMED AND DANGEROUS, as does Liz’s gourmet pet food! And Meg Corey, Sheila’s orchardist, is mentioned in my books. I’ll try to get word of Julia’s clambakes into the next one, and have Cam check out the World’s Longest Yard Sale. And, of course, she’ll have to have a clock fixed one of these days.

    2. I love the cameos Edith sets up, but agree that it would be fun to have a full on cross over at some point. Remember when Jessica Fletcher visited Hawaii, and there was a crossover with Magnum PI? Like that. 😉

  7. Julie,

    I am a giant Babylon 5 fanatic. I love it! I still consider it my favorite TV show of all time. I’ve made more great friends introducing that show to people than I can count. We spend time watching it together and become friends along the way.

    I’m watching SHIELD despite the fact that is is Joss Whedon. I hated how he ended Buffy and Angel and what he did with Serenity. I love his characters and writing, but I can’t stand his endings.

    Like you, the movies are my introduction to these characters. Sometimes, I hadn’t even heard of them. I’m enjoying them and getting pulled into this universe as well. Just bought Lego Marvel for my Wii U as a result, in fact. Your comparisons to covers are spot on. Great observations.

    PS. Nobody listen to poor Zathas.

    1. Mark, my dentist kept telling me about Babylon 5, and finally brought in a bunch of VHS tapes for me to watch. I was hooked. And I remain really inspired by the unflinching storytelling of that series, and how if you go back to season 1, you can see how they set up stories that played out years later.

      True confession–I haven’t watched Buffy or Angel yet. I know, I know. I need to. I have heard that complaint about endings before.

      Nobody listen indeed. I need to rewatch the series…

      1. I need to rewatch Bab 5 as well. If we lived closer, I’d suggest we start doing just that. Maybe a Wicked Cozy weekly viewing party? Then we can watch it a second time because, as you so correctly said, you can go back and see all the little things he set up earlier, sometimes years earlier, and how they are paid off.

        Which is pretty amazing because, if the post I saw last night is to be believed, the show turned out very differently from how he first imagined it. Who knows how much of that was true by the time season 1 started, however.

        Oh, and there is a hole in your mind. 😉

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