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Having successfully conquered the worlds of comic books and movie making, Marvel Entertainment has set its sights on an unexpected new target with its latest web series: Lifestyle programming. Initially announced at this year’s SXSW festival in March, tomorrow sees the official launch of Earth’s Mightiest Show, in which Blair Butler leads viewers through what’s happening in today’s geek culture.
“We wanted to expand into more original video,” says John Cerilli, Marvel’s vp of content and programming. “We know it’s an area that is very ripe right now, and we know people are hungry to see our properties involved in original video.”
The new weekly series, which will be available across PC and mobile platforms via Marvel.com, expands Marvel’s original video programming initiative past series like The Watcher and What The?!?, which appealed to the company’s core comic book fanbase, to something with wider appeal. Describing the series as “Marvel Lifestyle,” Cerilli defines the term as “sort of geek culture. I don’t want to pigeonhole any one person, but the majority of our fans have similar likes, similar things that they’ve grown up enjoying, and still to this day enjoy very much.”
“We’re reaching for the pop culture aficionado, and pop culture really has grown,” Cerilli explains. “Comic books, and comic book genres, have really become a huge part of pop culture. It’s a lot more part of a normal part of life. Just look at the movies that come out any given weekend during the summer nowadays. It’s much bigger than it ever has been, and we want to cater to that person.”
The show revolves around Butler, a writer and comedian who may already be familiar to the show’s target audience from her time hosting G4’s Attack of The Show. “I’ve been prepping for this my whole life,” she says about the series. “I grew up loving everything from video games to comics to genre movies to sci-fi, and for me, we’re living in a golden age of things that seemed when I was a kid would never become mainstream. If you told me when I was 12 that there would be a zombie show on television or an Avengers movie, my tiny head would’ve exploded.”
“We brought Blair in because she’s so special,” Cerilli says, adding that she’s involved in decisions about the content and direction of the show behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. “She was definitely the first choice for this. She knows our audience [and] is the persona that we wanted.”
The show will feature geek culture news and interviews with creators and celebrities within that field (The first episode features Robot Chicken‘s Seth Green, as well as Joe Casey and Duncan Rouleau — two members of the successful Man of Action studio responsible for Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 franchise — and news about Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim).
“It’s great to get to talk to people whose work I’ve admired, and who are having a huge impact on pop culture, and geek culture,” Butler says. “For me, being able to work on this show and cover all this stuff and share it with viewers, it’s a real honor. It’s exciting to talk about this stuff, and I think there are a lot of people out there who’re equally excited to find out about this.”
One of the dangers with a content giant like Marvel launching this kind of programming is the possibility of focusing on its own product to the detriment of competitors, but that won’t be the case with Earth’s Mightiest Show, according to Cerilli. “When we first thought about the show, we’d initially named it Marvel’s Earth’s Mightiest Show,” he says, “then we thought, we don’t want this to be just about Marvel, we want this to be about the lifestyle. You won’t see the Marvel branding, you won’t see the red block [Marvel logo] above the title. That was a major step forward with the thinking here at Marvel. We know that we’re part of a much bigger lifestyle, and we want to celebrate it.”
Earth’s Mightiest Show launches online tomorrow at Marvel.com. If you can’t wait until then, enjoy a sneak peek of Butler talking to Seth Green.
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