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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/24/2008

The Interview: Marvel Comics' Joe Quesada

By Michael Cavna

Joe Quesada: The man who helps make big Marvel projects and readers' "nerd-gasm fantasies" come true. (Marvel)

As Comic-Con kicks off today, the event banks on six-digit attendance over four days and the glare of international attention -- but it wasn't always thus. Time was, you could chat up the Hawaiian-shirted Matt Groening ("The Simpsons") during a quiet, line-less moment, or not glimpse a single Celebrity of Global Fame all day. If we sound wistful, it's because for a time, we grew up down the road from -- and along with -- the adolescent Con. For mere hundreds of comic fans each summer, it was our mini-mecca.

Gradually, of course, the Con went all "Sundance" on us, and Hollywood amped up its presence, but you know what? That's for the good, because feverish fanboys and fangirls now get to pack more sights, sounds and sneak-peeks into a long weekend than ever. (Meanwhile, for coverage of the celebrity side of things, check out: Celebritology.)

And one of the superheroes of the Con, in our eyes, is Joe Quesada, the Marvel editor-in-chief who still wields a mean pencil. At Marvel, Quesada -- who is scheduled to appear Friday at the "Marvel: Your Universe" session -- has overseen everything from the assassination of Captain America and the unmasking of Spider-Man to making it illegal to be a superhero without proper registration. Before Quesada headed to the Con, he took time to talk with our fanboy contributor David Betancourt:

Are you excited that Marvel released both the "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk" films this summer?
I'm absolutely thrilled. ... To me, this is the natural progression that Marvel as a company should be taking. For many years, when I wasn't even working here, I often wondered why Marvel wasn't their own movie studio. And now here we are. We're producing our own stuff and it's as close to the source material as possible. It's ... absolutely fantastic.

How important are the success of Marvel's movies to the books themselves?
I think it's symbiotic in a lot of ways. The books help the movies, the movies help the books. It's been proven now in the world of mass media that Marvel characters mean money. People are attracted to these characters. They love these characters. They're becoming more and more relevant every day. They are now basically modern myths.

Is there any Marvel property right now that you think would make a great movie that might not be on the radar of Hollywood studios?
The easy answer would be Captain America and Thor. I think a character like Killraven, that people don't really know about is very much an untapped gem that we have. The idea of an Earth in which only a few humans are left behind after a Martian invasion, it's literally "Gladiator" and "Independence Day" put together.

What's your favorite Marvel movie so far?
It's one of two. It's either "Spider-Man 2" [or] I really happen to like the Blade movies. I think the first Blade movie was dynamite.

Is Spider-Man now the most eligible bachelor in the Marvel universe?
The most eligible bachlor in the Marvel universe is absolutely Tony Stark (Iron Man). Peter is our every man. He's Joe Average. John Q. Public. He's struggles with relationships like the rest of us. He has a certain nerdish appeal. He's completely and utterly us. And that's the beauty of the character. If you made him some incredibly sexy, man-about-town, I think he becomes less relatable.

What's the fan reaction been like to sending the Fantastic Four to Puerto Rico and publishing the issue in Spanish as well as English?
It's been nothing but great reaction. We did a considerable amount of mainstream press. It was a lot of Latin mainstream press here in the U.S. It's been very well received and they're asking for more advertures like that so we're thinking about it.

What's up with the Incredible Hulk being red? Is he really really angry now?
Hulk Red is a mystery story. Who is Hulk Red? Now there's a new Hulk running around and we're not quite sure who that new Hulk is. Or is it Bruce Banner? And yes he's very angry.

So you guys killed Captain America and replaced him with his former teen sidekick/former Russian assassin Bucky, who will wear the Captain America mantle while strapped to bust a cap (pun intended). What are your expectations for the new Captain America?
The fans have really gravitated towards the Winter Soldier/Bucky character. It's going to be met with passion one way or the other. For me, the ultimate failure would be if nobody really cared. Right now it seems to be getting a great vibe. I think the readers want to see what Bucky can finally do as Captain America. It's one of those great nerd-gasm fantasies where you say, well, wouldn't it make sense if Bucky became Cap ..... let's see what happens.

Over at D.C. Comics, Wonder Woman has a female writer now. Do you feel a female writer's perspective is important for strong female superheroes?
We have female writers and artists that work here. The beauty about comics, unlike being an actor in Hollywood where your gender and the way you look effects the part you get, comic creators are faceless. It's all based on can you write the story and how talented you are. If talented people show up I don't care if they're male, female from planet Mars, if they can write, they're writing our books

By Michael Cavna  | July 24, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Interviews With Cartoonists, Superheroes  
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Next: The Morning Line: "Sherman" Survives a Snark Attack


so what gets the captain america role for the movie? by the time it gets made, matthew mcconaughey and aaron eckhart will be too old...

Posted by: dicaprio? | July 24, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

"Is Spider-Man now the most eligible bachelor in the Marvel universe?"

Huh? In the daily strip version published in (among other places) The Washington Post, Peter and M.J. are still together. Is "the Marvel universe" more of a multiverse?

Posted by: Jonah Jameson is my Hero | July 25, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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