At the tail end of 2020, Disney+ debuted a unique documentary series called Marvel’s 616. Named after the famous Earth-616 Universe, the show centered on a lot of the behind-the-scenes aspects of Marvel Comics. Fans were able to get a deep dive into things they otherwise wouldn’t know or totally overlook.
The episodes focused on things like cosplay, Marvel’s toy division, lesser-known international shows, and even a high school musical based on Marvel characters. The series wasn’t about common knowledge, so a lot of what was explained came across as things the audience learned for the first time, with some of it being pretty cool.
10 Marvel Spotlight Concept
The final episode of the series, “Spotlight,” indeed shines a light on a concept that most fans were probably unaware of. The Marvel Spotlight program is a series of stage plays created specifically for high school students and often dealing with topics relevant to them.
The episode is directed by the talented Alison Brie and puts the focus on a select few students who get to perform as characters like Squirrel Girl. It’s delightful to see the way it has helped these teenagers with things like self-confidence and it’s wonderful to know that it even exists.
9 Toy Biz Bought Marvel
Marvel Comics has been around for a long time but things weren’t always as profitable for them as they are today. Thanks in large part to the success of the MCU, the company is making more money than ever. However, the comics industry did mostly crash at one point.
When that happened, Marvel ended up getting purchased by Toy Biz, which was detailed in the “Unboxing” episode, directed by Sarah Ramos. Some designers at Toy Biz didn’t even understand how large the Marvel universe was. They started putting out great action figures that brought characters to life, helping Marvel stay popular.
8 Comic Con Connections
Technically, this isn’t something that’s a fact or a cool tidbit about Marvel itself but it was still great to see. Many viewers have agreed that the best episode of Marvel’s 616 is “Suit Up!” The installment is about cosplayers and the way they prepare for things like Comic Con.
What made the episode so unique was that it focused on five cosplayers from different backgrounds. You get to see the inclusivity of the community and the way that some people form bonds through it that they otherwise wouldn’t. Plus, it even mentioned the social media accounts of many of these cosplayers.
7 The Method To The Madness
There were two episodes that did a great job of explaining how comic books and shows are ultimately made. First up was “Lost and Found,” which followed Paul Scheer as he looked into forgotten characters like Brute Force. He was able to see the steps of trying to bring a show about them to life.
There was also “The Marvel Method,” which was notable for how it displays the way that comic books are made and the process they go through. Getting a look at how the writer works with the illustrators, editors, and more is the kind of thing that most people never get a peek at.
6 Spanish Artists Help Shape Miles Morales
A major reason that Miles Morales has become so popular is how relatable he is. It really hammers home the point that someone doesn’t have to be a “chosen one” or anything like that to be a hero. Having a Spider-Man who is half Black and half Puerto Rican is a huge deal for many fans.
To get the character right and pay respects to Morales’s culture, Javier Garrón and Natacha Bustos, both Spanish artists, worked on him. Writer Brian Michael Bendis usually gets the acclaim when it comes to Morales but this was proof that it was a team who did it.
5 Ms. Marvel’s Impact
“Higher, Further, Faster,” an episode named after a classic Carol Danvers line, shined a light on women in Marvel Comics. Directed by Community star Gillian Jacobs, the installment made sure to note just how impactful the Ms. Marvel character proved to be.
The talented G. Willow Wilson thought it was a prank when she was approached about creating a Muslim superhero. However, it was real and became a huge hit. Kamala Khan was viewed as a symbol for representation and sold way more comics than expected. She has now appeared in the Marvel’s Avengers video game and is getting her own Disney+ series.
4 Graphic Novels Led To More Female Readers
It’s not a fair thought process, comic books and superheroes in general have often been seen as something that is primarily for a male audience. That was able to change as things transitioned into the 1990s, which was around the time that graphic novels rose in popularity.
While traditional comics were mostly relegated to stores dedicated for that, the longer graphic novels found their way into bookstores. These were more often visited by women and it helped make them more accessible to ladies. It may seem trivial but without this happening, comics may have stayed more closed off than they should have.
3 Silver Surfer Origin
As noted, the “Marvel Method” episode dove into the way that comic books are sometimes created by committee. The installment also detailed a funny story involving iconic creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Lee didn’t have time to pen full scripts and one day just saw an unexplained character made by Kirby show up in his story.
Kirby detailed that this character would be a minion of sorts for Galactus and he was on a surfboard because they were popular at the time. This ended up being Silver Surfer, one of Marvel’s most iconic characters. Hardcore fans might know this tale but casual fans were likely unaware of this unusual origin.
2 A Woman Saved Power Man & Iron Fist
A lot was learned in the “Higher, Further, Faster” episode as it truly showcased the impact women have had on Marvel Comics. “Power Man and Iron Fist” was being written by legendary writer Chris Claremont at one point but he was also behind many other stories.
Since he had so much on his plate, the series was given to Jo Duffy, a great writer who was initially unaware of how few women were in comics when she entered the industry. She was excited to write for these characters and when she took over, the sales for the superhero team boosted. Duffy went on to write for Star Wars comics.
1 Japanese Spider-Man’s Influence
Marvel’s 616 starts with a bang as “The Japanese Spider-Man” tells the story of the Spider-Man TV series that aired in Japan. Marvel agreed to let the show be a totally unique take on Spider-Man as long as it was never made outside of the country. That included a Spider-Man robot.
After striking a deal with toy company Toei, a robot that would transform was added to the show. This concept became popular enough to spawn a comic series based on the robots and that went on to heavily inspire the Transformers, which is its own massive franchise.
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