The Marvel Studios design team is a wonderful and vibrant bunch, it’s hard to ignore the amount of hard work the team of artists put into bringing the Marvel Cinematic Universe to life.
HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb was lucky enough to speak with one of those talented artists, Jerad Marantz, about his experiences working for Marvel and how much fun it is tackling all the wonderful/fantastic comic book characters. Having recently worked on the Children of Thanos, the Outriders, and Thanos’ armor in Avengers: Infinity War, the armor will make another big appearance in Avengers: Endgame later this month.
We first dove into what it is like working for Marvel Studios for Jerad and mentions some of his fellow talented Marvel Studios artists that he’s been happy to work side-by-side over the years.
HN: What I’d like to ask first is what is it like to work over at Marvel Studios and what kind of environment is that for you?
MARANTZ: “When working in-house at Marvel it’s a very different environment and I work in visual development, the department is run by Ryan Meinerding, who’s an incredible talent. He’s overseeing everything we’ve produced on multiple projects. The department designs directly for the directors and heads of the studio. If the designs are approved they go into production and make it on screen. As a concept artist, it’s very exciting.”
“My friend Andy Park also works over there and he’s fantastic. Ryan and Andy split overseeing the films at Marvel. Andy is an incredible talent I have to say. I briefly worked with him on Guardians of The Galaxy Vol.2.”
“It’s a wonderful environment, there’s a lot of creative freedom and we focus on characters, creatures, and keyframes. But Marvel is very different, they have a very direct way of working design and I absolutely love it there.”
Jerad is a big comic book fan which is reflected in his passion for his superhero projects and reaffirms that he always refers to the source material when designing stuff based on comic book characters/creatures.
HN: When you are designing stuff for Marvel did you tend to look at comic references or do you kind of go on your own direction with it?
MARANTZ: ” I always start with the comics, yeah. That’s definitely the starting point for pretty much everything at Marvel and it also helps that I’m a comic book nerd. On a lot of these projects, I already have quite a bit of information going into the assignments because I’m usually familiar with whatever I’m designing or re-designing.”
“The same thing at Warner Bros., I work on a lot of properties that I’m very familiar with. I feel like having an existing relationship with the source material helps.”
Nicholas also asked Jerad about his thoughts on the Disney-Fox merger, Fox characters he’d like to take a shot at designing along with his desire to continuing tackling the cosmic side of the MCU.
HN: Since you’ve been involved with a lot of the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially with Guardians of The Galaxy and Infinity War and a little bit on Captain Marvel, would you be coming back to other cosmic projects?
MARANTZ: “Maybe, I mean, it would be awesome, I don’t know. Right now, I’m just handling one project at a time. I would love to work on Guardians 3, I know James Gunn is back, that’s very exciting“
HN: You mentioned the Disney-Fox merger and some characters coming home to Marvel in a sense, I saw you had done some artwork for the Fantastic Four, The Thing I believe. Would you be interested in tackling that franchise when Marvel Studios tries to take another shot at Fantastic Four?
MARANTZ: “Oh yeah, are you kidding me?”
“I’d love to do that. I did options for the entire team years ago. My god, it must have been seven or eight years ago way before this last version of Fantastic Four came out and I think I was doing those for producer Avi Arad back in the day. It was a long time ago and I jump around on a lot of projects even at the same time. I’m a freelance artist, so at any given moment I am working on two to even five projects, so it’s hard to keep track of them all but that particular one that was a labor of love. I really enjoyed working on those characters.“
“Hopefully, when it comes back to the MCU, I’d get a pass at it and I’d be absolutely thrilled to get a pass at that.”
HN: I think fans of the Fantastic Four characters have always wanted to see them done properly on the big screen and I don’t think have thus far.
MARANTZ: “No, I agree things could always be better. I think fans were fairly disappointed with those previous incarnations, but you know, when those films came out it was a different time and Marvel Studios I believe hadn’t formed yet.”
“I know now that they definitely got a solid grasp on that these days. I’ve worked on several projects with them and at times I had been unsure of whether or not that the characters or the story was being done right and they’ve always come through, they’re on an incredible streak right now and there’s no real end in sight. It’s very exciting.”
HN: Are there any other characters from the Fox side of things that you’d like to see done in the MCU or that you’d like to work on?
MARANTZ: “Wow, there are so many characters there. I’ve done a bunch of X-Men films with Fox back in the day and it’s so hard to imagine an X-Men character that I wouldn’t want to work on. There’s such a rich universe and there are so many stories that they haven’t even tapped in on or with characters.”
“Anything from Wolverine to Mojo, I’d love that. I’d love to do another pass on Apocalypse, Apocalypse is one of my favorite villains that I got to work on. They didn’t go in my direction, I did something that was a bit more comic accurate, but I’d love to take another stab at him. Any of them. Wolverine or Beast. Oh wow, I’d love to do Beast or Nightcrawler for the MCU would be incredible. Even the core X-Men team, I’d even love to redo Sabertooth.”
You also might have noticed some different versions of Skrull concept artwork that was shown at San Diego Comic-Con the summer it was announced by Kevin Feige that the Skrulls would be appearing in Captain Marvel, the designs that had been shown on the panel were actually done by Jerad.
HN: I did want to say that your artwork for the Skrulls was just awesome.
MARANTZ: “Oh, thank you. I worked on the Skrulls while I was also working on Avengers: Infinity War and a lot of artists did passes. Andy Park brought me on briefly to do a pass on the Skrulls along with my good friend Constantine Sekiris. Andy not only headed up that project, but he also designed Captain Marvel. My version of the Skrulls I was told actually got pretty far they almost went in that direction they had actually released that artwork at Comic-Con to announce that they were doing the Skrulls and as production continued they decided to explore other options after I had left to work on Shazam!.”
“I don’t take any credit for the Skrulls in the film. My friend Ian Joyner actually did the final design for the Skrulls in Captain Marvel. I really loved the work he came up with there and how it looked on the big screen. Other talented artists involved on Captain Marvel included fellow artists and friends Anthony Francisco, Jackson Sze, Alexsi Briclot, and Tully Summers who also worked on the Skrulls. You can see all of their hard work and designs in The Art of Captain Marvel book. Great stuff in there, totally worth picking up as with all the MCU art books.”
We’ll have more segments from our chat with Jerad Marantz in the near future, but in the meantime, you can see some of his fantastic costume work on the big screen this weekend for Shazam! which is currently playing in theaters.