Assembling a Marvel-lous universe

The latest addition to the Marvel movie world, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which opens here tomorrow, introduces a host of new characters, making the Marvel cinematic universe even more expansive.

The origins of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor were told through their respective solo movies.

But what about Bucky Barnes' and Natasha Romanoff's backstories?

Do you know the difference between the Aether and the Tesseract?

And would you win a pop quiz about Thanos, whom we saw in Guardians Of The Galaxy? How the heck did he get to appear in all the Marvel movies?

Then there is the upcoming Ant-Man, which looks set to bring another aspect of the Marvel world into the playground. There is also the TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Wealth of information? You ain't seen nothing yet.

TNP's award-winning infographics journalists Kelvin Chan, Billy Ker and Fadzil Hamzah have put together a massive and comprehensive guide to the Marvel cinematic universe, tying 144 characters into one interconnected web.

This interactive feature goes live online on the new M website at today. (See report on facing page.)


The project may have taken the artists weeks to put together and cost them many sleepless nights, but Marvel fans who got to preview it have given it two thumbs up.

"This is a crazy amalgamation of the Marvel cinematic universe DNA," said Mr Kenji Lim, 28.

The project manager thinks the graphic "will help fans or anyone to connect all the films and TV series easily at a glance".

For creative designer Gan Zhixun, 28, the guide simply blew his mind.

The artists reveal their inspiration, challenges and reward from working on connecting the dots for all who are curious about the vast Marvel world:

How did the idea of doing a Marvel universe come about?

Ker: It came after I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier last year. I wanted to show how the entire Marvel universe - TV and movies - are intertwined as I think a lot of people, even fans, may not know all the connections between all the Marvel properties.

Fadzil: After Billy told us about the idea, I started doing a mock-up online as I believed it'd be the best-suited publishing platform for content of this size, considering we have so many characters to profile.

How long did it take?

Chan: The germination of the idea started a while back but we got into it full swing only in the past three weeks.

What have been the challenges?

Chan: We had to create a three-panel bio pop-up box for the 144 characters of heroes and villains. And because of the depth of content, we really needed to prioritise what the basic information should be and add the bells and whistles later. After working on the 50th character, it really felt like a grind. But we pushed on.

What's so unique about this project?

Chan: To our knowledge, this is the first time a graphic like this has been attempted on this scale and with this level of complexity and interactivity.

Another interesting aspect is that as Marvel's universe grows, so can this graphic. We can update the graphic as more information or characters come into play. Basically the site is a living, breathing database.

Who's your favourite Marvel character?

Fadzil: I grew up loving superheroes, especially the bare-knuckle brawling Daredevil. I love the concept of a blind person-turned-hero who saves the city from corruption. I also like Captain America and his adversary, the Winter Soldier.

Ker: I like Iron Man because he is just so cool and witty. Also, the whole universe won't have been possible if the first Iron Man movie hadn't been such a success in the first place.

Chan: My favourite is Thor because in the comic books his story is interwoven with Norse mythology, which greatly fascinates me.

What did you take out of this project?

Chan: We learnt a lot of lessons from this as it is the largest project we've ever done. We also realised there's a lot more potential that we can tap into for our future projects.

So what's your next big project?

Chan: We are looking at a galaxy far, far away.

This article was first published on Apr 22, 2015.
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