Ever since Disney announced its forthcoming streaming service, Disney+, there's been a question in the back of comic book fans' minds: What about Marvel? There's been talk of standalone shows for Loki, Wanda Maximoff, and Hawkeye; an animated series based on the Marvel's What If…? comics is also in the works. Yet, those shows are still expected to be a year or two away. Today, Marvel is finally revealing one of the shows that'll arrive when the Disney+ service launches: Storyboards.
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Unlike the Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian or Falcon & Winter Soldier , which builds on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Storyboards isn't an episodic extension of an existing franchise. Instead, the series—which will launch with Disney+ in November —pairs up Marvel Entertainment's chief creative officer Joe Quesada with some very visionary people to find out how they do their best work. "A comparison that everyone knows is Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," Quesada says. "We go on locations, but instead of food or culture being the focus, the focus is a guest, the way they tell stories, and their story."
Storyboards will feature about a dozen episodes in its first season, each 10 to 15 minutes in length. The guests are wide and varied, including Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman (on the debut episode), Book of Mormon and Avenue Q songwriter Robert Lopez, Teen Vogue executive editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay, and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.
"It would have been easy just to go for 12 celebrity guests, but we have a wide variety of people," Quesada says. "The real thrill to me is to find out, 'What's your story?' People tell their stories in all different ways. It's not just writing, drawing, or filming. Athletes tell stories in how they perform. Dancers tell stories with their bodies."
Even more than that, Storyboards lays out where Disney+ might be headed when it comes to original programming. The streaming service will already have a full library when it launches thanks to all of the Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, Fox, and animated programming Disney has in its coffers. But as the streaming wars heat up, the studio will need to pad its collection with originals the way Netflix, Hulu, and other streamers do. Shows like The Mandalorian and Falcon & Winter Soldier, which build out their respective cinematic franchises, are a given. But Storyboards shows that Disney isn't just looking to make episodic extensions of what's on the big screen; it'll have non-canon stuff, too.
"The show started when someone asked me, 'What's your hobby?' and I realized that, much like Stan Lee, I'm doing my hobby for a living. My absolute love is storytelling. So I started to formulate this."
Marvel Entertainment's chief creative officer Joe Quesada
Quesada, not exactly the most recognizable face in the Marvel sphere, may seem like an unlikely choice to lead this effort. In reality, though, it's the kind of thing for which he's the ideal candidate. He's a longtime comic book writer and artist who became Marvel's editor in chief in 2000. By 2011, he'd become the company's chief creative officer, and has consulted on Marvel's movies, executive produced Marvel's TV shows, guided Marvel publishing, directed short episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and advised on theme park rides. Storyboards utilizes those talents—and ultimately is a culmination of every one of them.
"The show started when someone asked me, 'What's your hobby?' and I realized that, much like Stan Lee, I'm doing my hobby for a living," Quesada says. "That's the reason Stan never retired—he was living that old adage, 'When you do what you love, you never work a day again.' And my absolute love is storytelling. So I started to formulate this."
To bring the concept into focus, Quesada did a live, one-on-one interview with Daredevil actor Charlie Cox at New York Comic Con in 2017, and later taped an interview with current Marvel editor in chief C.B. Cebulski. Those interviews were then turned into a pilot of sorts. "We pitched to Disney and next thing, here we are—we have a season," Quesada says.
The show, however, evolved to be something much more participatory than what that pilot entailed. In many episodes, for example, Quesada will try—with varying degrees of success—to do what the guests do. "The results are sometimes hilarious," Quesada says. "If you want to see me face-plant in the snow several times with a mountain climber, you get your wish."
The mountain climbing episode is one of Quesada's favorites. In it, Ed Viesturs, the only American to have climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, takes Quesada climbing in the Idaho mountains. "Ed put me through the paces," he says. But that's exactly the point of Storyboards. It's a TV version of the kind of guidance Quesada has been giving to creatives for years, just with the tables turned.
"I have seen Joe Quesada spit out multi-million dollar ideas to writers and artists of multiple generations with a generosity of spirit that is staggering," says Brian Michael Bendis, a longtime comic writer and one of Quesada's first freelance hires. "My favorite part of being on the Marvel Cinematic Universe creative committee all those years was seeing Joe's laser-focused notes transform a Marvel film so much that his notes ended up in the trailer."
Now, Quesada gets to put his expertise directly in front of the camera. "I get the question a lot: 'What the hell is a chief creative officer?'" he says. "But I think the show solidified it for me: I tell stories for a living. That's what I do."
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